America’s millions of small businesses are essential to the country’s functioning and to its diverse ways of life. They create jobs and keep consumer dollars circulating within local economies. Along with goods and services they bring distinctiveness and variety to Main Streets both urban or rural. And while it’s no small feat to create a thriving business in the face of structural inequities, independent entrepreneurship is the vehicle by which many people of color, women, and immigrants build wealth for their families and communities.

With independence, of course, comes risk. The coronavirus pandemic has had a harsh and disproportionate impact on the country’s smaller businesses, especially restaurants and nightspots, retail shops, and providers of personal services including neighborhood barbershops and beauty salons—and particularly among enterprises owned by people of color. In one survey of small business owners taken early in the pandemic, more than half said if the COVID crisis lasted four months they didn’t expect to be in business by the end of the year.

Small businesses can’t be expected to go it all alone. They may need support to get on their feet and grow in normal times, and to weather economic shocks like the COVID pandemic. That’s where a lesser-known entity comes in: the business development organization, or BDO.

Read the full article about business development organizations at LISC.