The coronavirus pandemic had an adverse effect on many Black entrepreneurs but a program designed to mentor small business firms with the help of a seasoned business executive has helped some survive and even thrive.
SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors targeting small businesses, uses its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status to partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration to aid and advise firms at no cost.
In operation since 1964, SCORE offers its clients mentoring, webinars and courses, a library of online resources and local events. Dr. Kiki Ramsey, the founder and CEO of Positive Psychology Coaching & Diversity Institute of Silver Spring, Md., said SCORE has made a difference for her during the pandemic.
“I have been involved with SCORE for quite some time,” Ramsey said. “My SCORE mentor was a big help for me during the pandemic.”
“COVID-19 Has Disproportionate Impact on Black Small Businesses,” according to a June 3 Forbes article that found a 40 percent decline in Black business ownership between February and April 2020—the early months of the pandemic—the largest drop of any racial and ethnic group.
The article cited a report from the House Small Business Committee that said Black businesses were less likely to handle COVID-19 mandated closures due to the lack of access to financial relief and capital.             On SCORE’s website, statistics for Black versus white firms during the pandemic revealed a racial gap in accessing financial resources.
Regarding new loans during the pandemic, 26.5 percent of white-owned businesses applied and 54.2 percent were approved. In contrast, 47.7 percent of Black-owned businesses applied and only 22.3 percent were approved. As far as delays for existing loans, 19.9 percent of white businesses applied for delays and 72.4 percent were approved while 39.8 percent of Black businesses applied for delays, with only 33.6 percent approved, according to the website.
Candice Stennett,  vice president of marketing at SCORE, said when the pandemic set in, her organization made the necessary adjustments for its clients.
“SCORE is ready to help any small business with its challenges,” Stennett said. “The pandemic created unprecedented challenges for small businesses and our mentors helped business owners try to recover. We also pivoted to help our customers. We worked with our clients to seek opportunities with relief programs where it was the PPP or other types of assistance. We helped business owners fill out the applications for the federal relief programs and we provided training for mentors to help mentees fill out the paperwork, also.”
Ramsey said her SCORE mentor helped her a great deal during the pandemic.
“My mentor helped me to grow my business,” she said. “As a matter of fact, I started my second business during the pandemic. My mentor gave me tips on hiring staff, monitoring contracts and setting up the business. I was also pointed to resources to help my business.”
Ramsey has a goal of generating a half of million dollars in revenue in five years. She said with SCORE’s help, her goal can be reached. She also encouraged Black entrepreneurs to tap into SCORE.
“Not many Black business owners have heard of SCORE but they should check it out,” she said. “It is great for anyone who wants to succeed in business and having someone with business success advise you will increase your chance of making it.”

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James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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