For Black businesses in Los Angeles, access to capital is a necessity.

“Let’s talk about supporting Black businesses,” said Robert D. Taylor, president and CEO of Centinela Capital Partners. “We should also support Black-women-owned businesses who face double discrimination.”

“Black women leaders should be trusted but we are not,” said Kandee Lewis, the chief executive officer at the Positive Results Center. “Most Black businesses are not respected & if we are going to have a Black small business, it is important that we provide the resources and tools so that business is sustainable.”

The Los Angeles Business Journal (LABJ) hosted a virtual panel entitled: “Black Business Matters: From Awareness to Action” on July 28. The event was held in partnership with the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce (GLAAACC), to discuss ways to foster a more socially conscious community of businesses. Topics included building community, change, and wealth in the Black community.

“Capital is not the only thing,” said Jonathan Hodge, senior vice president and financial advisor with Affinity Wealth Partners at UBS Wealth Management USA.

In addition to funding, It is also important for Black businesses to be socially aware, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, panelists said, adding that many small Black business owners work in the community they live in.

“Representation is very important,” shared E Tiffany Jones, manager of communications and strategic partnerships at OneLegacy.

“Create an allied business. That is going to help you stay relevant to the times,” added Robert Sausedo, the president and chief executive officer at Community Build Inc. “That’s how you look towards staying relevant for the future.

Linking your business to a cause in the community that will solve a problem.”

Panelists said consumers can help by proactively spending money with Black businesses.

“We need the community to invest in small Black-owned, Black-women-owned businesses,” Lewis said, who also serves as civil and human rights commissioner with the City of Los Angeles. “Don’t ask for discounts at Black-owned businesses.”

Lewis said Black consumers should intentionally seek Black entrepreneurs, to recycle their hard-earned dollars within their own community. She also said that youth should be mentored and encouraged to be the next generation of small business owners.

Meanwhile, Black business owners have the opportunity to leave a legacy and create generational wealth.

“A diverse workforce equals diverse dollars,” Sausedo said. There’s true spending power in the African-American community.

“Make sure you have a personal relationship with your banker. That makes all the difference,” said Anthony Turner, a business banking executive with Bank of America in Los Angeles.

On the corporate side, Reginald Roberts Jr., a co-managing partner at Sanders Roberts LLP said businesses need to stop talking and start doing.

“The City of LA spends less than one percent of their dollars with Black businesses,” shared Gene Hale, GLAAACC chairman. “You can use your local officials to get through doors.”

Meanwhile, it is also a reality that Black businesses receive less leeway when it comes to customer service.

“You basically have to try harder than most companies & you don’t get that second opportunity,” Hale said.