“Umajaa” is a Swahili word for “cooperative economics.” It is one of the seven principles for Kwanzaa. Endarkment.com defines cooperative economics is a principle summed up as “to build our own businesses, control the economics of our own community and share in all its work and wealth…sharing wealth is another form of communitarian exchange….without the principle and practice of shared wealth, the social conditions for exploitation, oppression, and inequality as well as deprivation and suffering are increased.”
August is National Black Business Month and the principle of “cooperative economics” is the embodiment of Black Business and Entrepreneurship.
Mrs. Kitchen. Agape Cleaners. Black America Clothing Co. Williams Barber College. Available Bail Bonds. EHCÜ Public Relations. There are a plethora Black owned businesses right here in the Alamo City.
Writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston explored the theme of Black business and entrepreneurship in many of her works, the most widely known being Their Eyes Were Watching God. The reimagination of the town of Eatonville, Florida filled with characters that exuded black entrepreneurship from Janie running the general store after her husband’s passing. Hurston’s own observations revealed the same culture of Black people owning barbershops, doctor’s offices, stores, clothing stores, etc. Hurston’s work was one of many works of African American literature that told the story of Black business and entrepreneurship.
Tales of this proved the resilient and resourceful spirit that is within Black people. The popular 2000’s name brand F.U.B.U- For Us By Us- is but a more recent incarnation of the same mentality. Black business ownership and entrepreneurship has stood the test of time.
According to data from the 2012 census bureau, there are approximately 2.6 million Black businesses in the United States employing nearly one million employees. “National Black Business Month Co-founders Frederick E. Jordan, President, F.E. Jordan & Associates – a prominent engineering and construction management firm – and John William Templeton, President, Venturata Economic Development Corp., believe that supporting African-American businesses is the key to lowering the rate of Black unemployment” (bwa.inc.org).
Often what is discussed is generational wealth but what needs to be included in that discuss how to obtain that through cooperative economics and black business and entrepreneurship. There has never been a time our recent history that hasn’t prompted a need for Black autonomy. As the generation of innovation becomes more and more prevalent, and as economic development reaches a level unseen before, Black America will have to evolve right along with it.