July 20, 2022
Small businesses play a central role in cities: they foster growth and innovation in local economies, provide critical jobs for residents, contribute to the vibrancy of urban corridors, and help to anchor neighborhoods. However, over the last two years, the pandemic has devastated the small business community, forcing many to shutter their doors. Nationally, the number of active business owners fell by 22 percent from February to April 2020. Black-owned businesses closed at almost twice the rate of other businesses, experiencing a 41 percent drop during that time.Against this more recent backdrop, the racial wealth gap continues to persist, as systemic bias contributes to white households both earning more and having more — and more valuable — assets on average than households of color. These gaps not only manifest in personal and household wealth, but in small business creation and operation as well. Boston has the potential to be a model for other cities by moving aggressively and intentionally to close these gaps, including by addressing biases that limit the opportunities of small business owners and entrepreneurs of color.Based on in-depth, structured, qualitative interviews with leaders across 30 nonprofits, community-based organizations, city agencies, and others, this report seeks to:reveal the strengths and weaknesses of Boston's ecosystem of small business advocates, funders, and technical assistance providerscapture their views on the challenges confronting our region's BIPOC small business owners and entrepreneurs, andcollect their ideas for changes in the future. It endeavors to provide new intelligence and insights, not just for Boston but for other cities.