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Leveling the Playing Field for Small Business Owners

Photo: Courtesy of Don Carvajal Cafe

Longstanding systemic barriers and institutional racism have created profound inequities in the United States. Anyone can try to get ahead, but depending on the color of your skin, your bank balance, the neighborhood you live in, or who you know, the deck could be stacked against you. COVID has only exacerbated these injustices. 

At Start Small Think Big, we’re all for small. We invest in businesses that are ready to grow but can’t afford or access the resources they need to get stronger. 

Previously unemployed, Jessica Spaulding, a single mom and woman of color, is now the proud owner of Harlem Chocolate Factory. Yolfer Carvajal, a first-generation immigrant and owner of Pabade Bakery, is thriving. LaParis Phillips, owner of Brooklyn Blooms, and Hector Carvajal, owner of Don Carvajal Cafe, grew their businesses during the pandemic! They pivoted and their businesses boomed. 

Support businesses in need 

Start Small Think Big provides businesses like these, and thousands more like them, with free legal, financial, and marketing support. We harness the expertise of top lawyers, financial experts, and marketing professionals who are passionate about supporting small business. 

Last year alone, we engaged over 2,000 volunteers who provided pro bono legal, financial, and marketing services valued at over $14 million. Each Start Small Think Big client — with whom we work one-on-one — receives more than 50 hours of assistance over the course of a year, valued at more than $30,000. Our services are completely free.

When we lift up a small business, we lift up a community. Studies show 48 percent of small business purchases are recirculated locally, compared to only 14 percent by chain stores. Studies also show that businesses owned by people of color are more likely to hire from within their own communities. This means supporting Black- and Brown-owned businesses also supports Black and Brown families, community members, and employees. 

During a pandemic

COVID continues to ravage small businesses across the country. Our clients are bracing themselves for a severe and prolonged crisis. We remain steadfast in our commitment to investing in those that have been hit the hardest, and activating their ability to generate and build wealth through entrepreneurship. 

If all people, regardless of their financial status, zip code, and connections, are going to have the power to make decisions about their own lives, we must invest in their ability to build assets for themselves and their families. If the color of a person’s skin is going to continue to determine what they can and can’t do, we must level the playing field. 

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