Yesterday the U.S. Census released new data reinforcing the idea that America is more diverse than ever, and will only continue to diversify in the future. Millennials born between 1982 – 2000 are the most diverse group on record, and for the first time in our history, we have a segment of our population with a minority-majority population — children under the age of 5. This would support previous data suggesting that by the year 2043, America’s minority communities will collectively become the majority population.
People will look at this data from many perspectives, but the one that sticks out in my mind is opportunity. I have long held the belief that the booming diversity sectors represent a major growth opportunity for our economy and for our communities. In fact, I believe that our future depends on minority businesses.
Let me explain.
Economists and our government agree that small businesses and new businesses are “the engine of our economy.” This is an expression that gets tossed around frequently in politics, but rarely is it discussed in the context of race and our nation’s evolving demographics. As we’ve documented on our site, minority business owners face more financial obstacles in launching and operating their businesses than their white counterparts. Yesterday’s report from the census needs to be considered in this context.
If our country is becoming more diverse, yet diverse business owners can’t secure the financing they need to survive, thrive, and grow, then how will our economy grow? What does our nation’s future look like? Will we simply have to rely on a smaller white population to drive small business growth? This seems like an impractical and frankly, unlikely scenario.
Instead, I believe that we need to address the access to capital issues facing minority businesses, and give them a level playing field to grow. There are thousands of ascendant MBEs across our country that merely need the same level of financial trust that their non-minority colleagues receive. We know that our future is more diverse, and that small/new businesses are the key to growing our economy, so therefore it stands to reason that we should be investing in emerging diverse businesses.
By improving supplier lending, MBEs can grow at the rate proportional to or exceeding our population shift. I envision a future where MBEs are seen as the new engine of our nation’s economy.