According to surveys, black small business owners are being left behind in the pandemic

Coach Iya Karade had to close her gym, the Athletic Arts Academy, when the pandemic hit. Now open, it is about 25% full.

Source: Iya Karade

When the pandemic first struck the country in March last year, Iya Karade was one of countless small business owners who had to close their doors.

Their Orange, New Jersey-based gymnastics studio, Athletic Arts Academy, didn’t reopen until July – and then it was only 25% busy.

“The word pivot has become synonymous with survival,” said Karade, 54, who started her business in 2014 in hopes of bringing gymnastics to children in her urban area.

That meant running virtual courses and after they reopened adding skateboarding and roller skating to their offerings.

It is still 25% busy as many families stay at home, may be afraid of coming or living in multi-generational households – which means they have to be careful about putting older relatives at risk.

Whether she can survive another year under these conditions depends on many variables, such as the flexibility of her landlord.

“It depends on getting more money,” Karade said.

Almost a year into the pandemic, many companies, particularly black-owned companies, are trying to stay afloat.

About a third, or 37%, of black small business owners said they could survive for more than a year in current conditions, compared with 59% of white small business owners and 55% of Hispanic small business owners. CNBC quarterly | SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey.

In addition, 15% said their store had temporarily closed and has not yet reopened due to the pandemic. By comparison, 8% of white small business owners said the same. The survey was conducted on the SurveyMonkey platform January 25-31 and included responses from just over 2,100 small business owners across the country.

At the same time, confidence and optimism among black small business owners is higher than that of any other race. Their Small Business Confidence Index is 61, compared to 41 for their white counterparts and 59 for Hispanics.

“As African Americans, we are extremely resilient,” said Ron Busy, president and CEO of the US Black Chambers. “We always had to be creative and improvise, especially when it came to capital.”

This resilience does not surprise Karade either.

“For most of us, this is an opportunity to change things, not just for ourselves but for generations to come,” she said. “You will take the credit collapse.

“You will take on the additional debt.”

Glenda West, right, and her wife Juliana own a small construction company in Seattle.

Source: Glenda West

For 61-year-old Glenda West, who owns a small construction company with her wife in Seattle, the pandemic also brought financial difficulties.

While it stayed open during the crisis, it was underutilized for about a quarter of the year, resulting in a loss of about $ 200,000 in revenue.

However, there was also a silver lining in the recent racial awakening, which began following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last May.

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West, who is Black, made a decision 20 years ago to stay away from marketing collateral for the company. Instead, her wife Juliana was the face of the business, called Westmintster.

“She’s Mexican but she looks white,” said West, who attended a CNBC Invest in You Town Hall last summer.

“I just felt like we should take the best shot when we get out of goal,” she added. “We have a lot of competition.”

Today, the company receives calls from customers trying to hire a black-owned company.

“Nobody has said that before,” said West. “I can see the world changing.”

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