Giving Compass’ Take:
• Entrepreneurship is a pathway to financial security and collective prosperity. Ensuring that Black individuals in Atlanta have support to succeed in business is a sustainable strategy.
• How can other communities, including yours, follow the example set by Atlanta? What changes could be made to improve the existing program?
• Learn more about how to get involved with local efforts for racial justice.
In Georgia, nearly 30% of jobs are low-wage, up from 26.7% in 2011. Low-wage workers are struggling to stretch their income to meet basic expenses. Across the state, a little over half (50.2%) of families saved for an emergency last year, while only 41.6% of Black families reported saving for an emergency.
The intergenerational cycle of poverty facing communities of color is perpetuated by a system that excludes them from the wealth-building opportunities that come with owning assets, such as having savings in the bank or owning a home or small business. The inability of households of color in Atlanta to purchase wealth-building assets is unsurprising when we consider that one in four African American Atlantans have zero or negative net worth, meaning they owe more than they own.
Given that African Americans make up 52% of Atlanta’s population, it is imperative that the city address the harsh economic realities facing Black Atlantans. Addressing the fact that many families are in no position to weather a financial crisis, much less accrue wealth and pass it on to future generations, is essential not only to the financial wellness of Atlanta’s households of color, but to the regional economy writ large.
Entrepreneurship provides pathways to wealth building through business ownership. Given that several organizations are dedicated to supporting housing and homeownership in Atlanta, and the city is focused on economic development initiatives, it seemed appropriate to elevate entrepreneurship for African American Atlantans. Focusing on entrepreneurship offers the opportunity to improve the financial security of individual entrepreneurs, and serves as a gateway to community wealth building. Entrepreneurship presents an onramp to collective prosperity that goes beyond the immediate gain of an individual business owner. Indeed, we do not recommend focusing exclusively on entrepreneurship; given the depth and breadth of financial insecurity among African Americans, efforts that focus solely on improving entrepreneurs’ outcomes will miss an opportunity to improve financial security for employees, neighborhoods and the broader economy.