Lessons Learned from COVID-19
The Survival of Minority Businesses

According to the 2019 Annual Business Survey, approximately 18.3% (1.0 million) of all U.S. businesses were minority-owned and about 19.9% (1.1 million) of all businesses were owned by women. Hispanic-owned businesses made up 5.8% (331,625) with approximately 3.0 million employees; an estimated 577,835 Asian-owned businesses with about 24.5% (141,746) have high visibility in the accommodation and food services industries; and Blacks or African Americans owned approximately 124,551 businesses with higher employment rates in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector. The majority of these business may be catalogued as minority and have staff of less than 5 employees. However, they are recognized as proving ground for entrepreneurs, a vibrant source of innovation and competition, and an essential source of employment. They are suppliers and customers to the broader economy and deeply embedded in local communities.

By describing these businesses and their employee, range of operations and services in industries that are essential to ensure the continuity of critical functions in the United States, this initiative will facilitate giving voice to those employees who are keeping us safe, ensuring food security for the nation, and providing health care and transformative healthcare systems. Yet, the majority of these businesses have workers who live, play, work, and pray in communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and other detrimental chronic and acute diseases. As essential workers, these employees of minority and small businesses are at higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19 due to the nature of their work. Other risk factors include belonging to a racial and ethnic minority group, and the access and quality of health care provided, lack of access to medications and the high risk of contracting COVID-19 along with other underlying co-morbid conditions.

The Rationale
COVID-19 as well as other chronic disease conditions place an unequal burden of disease and death on a vulnerable population that by category, are invisible to the healthcare system. National reporting channels including McKinsey & Company, The Washington Post, and ABC News state that the impact of COVID-19 on minority businesses are disproportionately affected by the financial consequences of COVID-19. Minority business, especially African-American business, plunged over 40 percent due to the coronavirus shut down. Minority and small businesses face additional hurdles in accessing credit during an average year and this has also been exacerbated by the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought social and racial injustice and inequity to the forefront of public health.

However, this situation is longstanding with the well-established information about the disproportionate rate of chronic disease burden on minority populations – that include hypertension, diabetes mellitus, HIV/AIDS, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and obesity – with ethnic minorities having higher incidence or worse health outcomes. Minority and small businesses and their employees face tremendous challenges that include lack of financial stability and more information is needed to address the social determinants of health and health equity. There is a need to obtain more information about this group that include: minority-owned businesses’ socioeconomic position, social exclusion, work, unemployment, social support, addiction, food, and transportation – in order to maintain a healthy business entity and workforce.

Our Goal
To create a public, private, academic, and business centered partnership that provides an overview of the healthcare needs of minority businesses and their employees who work and reside in census tracks and zip codes in minority communities while supporting the economic stability of the minority business community. This partnership structure between minority businesses, academia and a professional organization is unique as it gathers participants whose influence transcends their primary intention into the places where these business owners have significant penetration into civic, social and professional influence – where they live, work, worship and play. The core of this partnership will provide regional specific education, information, and resources that respond to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating blows to the minority business community while discussing the physical and mental health, loss and broken lives due to racial injustice and social inequity and health disparities in the United States. This unique interprofessional and multidisciplinary collaboration occurs as the partnership of these professional organizations work together to achieve common goals that are used as a means for solving a variety of problems and complex issues. The benefits of this collaboration allow participants to achieve more together than they can individually, serve larger groups of people, and grow on individual and organizational levels. The information provided through this partnership will inform healthcare policy and healthcare delivery systems about the need to reduce the health disparities in a population that are now invisible while contributing to the economic and financial stability of this business community.

Our Partners
Meharry Medical College (Meharry)
Founded in 1876, Meharry is a private not-for-profit, independent institution. It is also the largest medical college in the nation dedicated primarily to educating black healthcare professionals. Student enrollment is approximately 800, and although its students are from around the world, the vast majority are of African American descent. The primary fields of study at Meharry are Medicine (MD), Dentistry (DDS, DMD), Public Health (MPH, DPH), and Biological and Biomedical Sciences. Some of Meharry’s important student associations include the American Association of Women Dentists, the American Medical Student Association, the Meharry-Vanderbilt Student Alliance and Ewell Neil Dental Research Society. More than 76% of Meharry graduates practice in underserved communities and more than 85% of graduates enter the primary care field. Meharry has more than 7,500 physicians, dentists, and scientists practicing and conducting research nationally and globally. Meharry graduates more PhDs in STEM than any other HBCUs. Meharry Medical College is a global academic health sciences center advancing health equity through innovative research, transformative education, exceptional and compassionate health services and policy-influencing thought leadership. True to its legacy, Meharry empowers diverse populations to improve the well-being of humankind.

1Joshua Group: (1JG)
1Joshua Group is a management consulting firm that assist clients in developing communications and management strategies to achieve anticipated outcomes utilizing value-added and measurable solutions. Core functions include: creating and managing multidisciplinary programming that incorporates academia, corporate industry, government, and non-governmental entities; and provide clients with cost-effective solutions, strategies, and positive outcomes with subject matter expertise, knowledge experience in education and awareness program development, event production, information technology, graphics and web design, finance, association management, organizational development, and business administration.

Project Partners