Because so many people got involved with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I want to now draw your attention to another challenge – The Black Business Challenge. It’s a challenge that all African-Americans should embrace. Without understanding the importance of this challenge on a daily basis, too many of our Black-owned businesses will suffer. Let’s face it – without the sustainability of Black-owned businesses, jobs won’t be created, communities won’t prosper, and our voices will be silenced about economic empowerment.Sharp increase in Black businesses Here’s some important information you should know – “From 2002 to 2007, the number of Black-owned businesses increased by 60.5 percent to 1.9 million, more than triple the national rate of 18.0 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners. Over the same period, receipts generated by Black-owned businesses increased 55.1 percent to $137.5 billion.” In an article in Black Enterprise magazine dated November 28, 2013, it’s estimated that African-Americans will have $1.1 trillion dollars in buying power by 2015. African-Americans have what it takes to help build up their own businesses. Promote locally and globally In order for us to use this power to elevate our Black-owned businesses, we must take the challenge to do the following: Overcome the negative stereotype that Black-owned businesses suffer from poor customer service. Anytime you generalize your opinions about Black-owned businesses based on your experience with one particular business, you’re hindering the progress of other qualified businesses. Let’s shift from negative stereotyping to positively enforcing our own. Commit to supporting a Black-owned business as much as possible. Through your support, you’re creating more revenue to be poured into that particular business which will therefore enhance and transform the community. Use social media to promote local Black-owned businesses. Because social media has an enormous global reach, let’s use it as a means to empower our Black-owned businesses. Here’s a hint: whenever you receive good service, promote it via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Incorporate Black-owned businesses in the diversity conversation. Unless we encourage other racial groups and ethnicities to value and support our own businesses, we will see and hear diversity as being anti-Black owned. Educate our youth about the importance of creating their wealth through entrepreneurship. Think about it for a moment. We push them to learn. We push them to excel in sports. We give them the newest and latest technology. Now, let’s push them to start their own businesses. Join in The Black Business Challenge is something all of us can take part in. For those who wish to complain about what Black-owned businesses aren’t doing, perhaps it’s time for them to create a business and set the example. I’m imploring you (the reader) to accept this challenge so that more jobs and opportunities will be created. Through this Black Business Challenge, we will be able to hire more people from within our communities to bring down the unemployment rate. This can be done, but it will take a collective effective to make it work.