As Black business owners continue facing disproportionate impacts on their businesses, H&R Block has announced a new program to provide them with free one-on-one coaching during the pandemic and beyond.
According to new data from its ongoing “Small Business Recovery Series,” Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, confirms that Black-owned businesses are seeing a disproportionate impact from pandemic-related factors, including more than half of Black business owners reporting a revenue decrease by 50% or more compared to only 37% of white business owners since March 2020.
With nearly half (47%) of small business owners not optimistic about success in 2021, Block Advisors is doubling down on its small business focus and has announced a new partnership with The Urban League of Greater Kansas City to improve financial management and confidence among Black small businesses.
“H&R Block is stepping up to make sure more Black-owned businesses survive and thrive so they can continue to play such an important part in improving local economies and uplifting our communities everywhere,” said Ian Hardman, Vice President and GM of Small Business at H&R Block. “We are proud to partner with The Urban League of Greater Kansas City and continue our goal of reaching and supporting 500,000 small business owners by 2025.”
From February to April during the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 41% of all Black-owned businesses in America closed their doors for good, and yet less than 2% of the roughly 4 million small businesses who received loans during the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program were Black-owned businesses. H&R Block’s most recent data also revealed that Black business owners were more likely to close out 2020 with less revenue than they expected at the start of 2020 as compared to white business owners.
“The impact of hundreds of years of systemic racism continue to be felt today and especially through the lens of economic prosperity,” said Gwendolyn Grant, President and CEO of The Urban League. “We look forward to working together to break down prosperity barriers and providing financial help where it’s urgently needed.”
The long-term goal is to have Black small business owners from across the country recruited into the program by Urban League affiliates, and this is currently being piloted in Kansas City, Mo. Block Advisors small business certified tax pros will conduct personalized coaching and services designed to improve financial management, tax compliance, bookkeeping and payroll; ultimately increasing business owners’ confidence when they try to gain access to capital. The local Urban League will also provide free credit-building services, as needed.
“Black communities revolve around Black-owned businesses,” National Urban League President Marc H. Morial said. “When they thrive, Black communities thrive. By offering coaching and financial counseling to Black business owners, Block Advisors are helping to create an economy that is equitable, robust and resilient for all Americans.”
As the business owners meet with coaches from Block Advisors, additional free services and connections to resources will be provided. H&R Block will also be offering micro-grants to program graduates on an as-needed basis to help bridge to larger and more permanent sources of capital. The effort is aligned with H&R Block’s Make Every Block Better community impact platform, and its Equality Action Plan.