Recovery slow for many black-owned businesses

“As an entrepreneur you have to be patient, man. You have to be patient and believe.”

Entrepreneur Gary Connell says he is trying his best to stay positive… even though his now-opened hair salon has been struggling financially ever since stay-at-home orders were imposed in March.

“Even if you come today and you have nobody just put in your mind ‘tomorrow you will have a full book’ and I live with that.”

After 15 years as a hair stylist, Connell threw his savings into opening his own studio in Montgomery County, Maryland in early March.

Less than a month later, “Healthy Hair” was among the businesses shut down during the coronavirus outbreak.

The 57-year-old business owner was left in a tough spot.

“We got the stimulus and the stimulus went in a week. And unemployment, I’ve been trying since this started with unemployment and nothing, to no avail. The small business loan also, nothing. So some people get it. Some people get it and some didn’t."

Even though the salon has reopened, Connell says he is worried it could take him another two months to catch up on backdated expenses.

And his situation is not unusual - especially among African Americans.

The number of black business owners in the U.S. dropped by 41 percent between February and April.

That’s according to a study by the University of California which showed, comparatively, a 17 percent drop in the number of white business owners.

Analysis shows black-owned businesses are highly concentrated in retail or service industries - and typically have had fewer resources to fall back on. They also have had a harder time accessing aid during the downturn.

But - some black entrepreneurs have seen an uptick in business over the last few weeks, as more consumers are supporting black-owned businesses amid racial equality protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

For Connell - whose wife was also out of work - making ends meet has become an uphill battle.

“You’re upside down now. You’re upside down.”