#BlackLivesMatter: We are listening
Over the last few months, the Mercy Corps Northwest team has been fortunate to hear from our community across the Pacific Northwest.
In April we heard from the small business community. You shared your challenges keeping your businesses afloat, the barriers keeping you in place during and before the pandemic, and beautiful stories of gratitude for the areas of support we’ve been able to offer.
Last week we heard from our Black community. We heard from business owners in cities spanning from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon – and extending to Walla Walla, Washington. We connected not only as a service provider, but as individuals who represent our community. You shared what services you’re looking for from us, how we can improve, and what you think we’ve gotten right.
If there is anything clear from what we’ve heard, it’s that there’s room for us to do more. We are committed to this. Today, we’re taking action, and responding to what we’ve heard from each of you.
1. “I am looking for a list of Black-owned businesses so that I can support them more.”
We received an ask to create a list of Black-owned businesses. Fortunately, we know that there are many directories of Black-owned businesses in our community. We also know there is power in sharing a Black-run list of Black-owned businesses in Portland and across the Pacific Northwest – such as ILoveBlackFood.com. We’re happy to share a list we’ve compiled of local and national Black-owned businesses:
- Mercatus’ List of Black Businesses and More
- Eater’s Black-Owned Business List
- Womxn.House Part 1 and Womxn.House Part 2 and all 3 million posts under the #blackownedbusiness hastag
- Intentionalist & EatOkra for finding Black-owned businesses across the nation
- NAACP African American Providers in PDX for folks who are looking to find affinity from service providers
Funding for Black-owned businesses
2. “We need access to more grants and resources. Oregon has a thriving entrepreneurial culture and resources and capital is needed for early-stage black and brown businesses.”
We hear you. Our team is working hard to expand resources where we can and ramping up the services that we currently offer. Just last week, we requested additional funding for Black-owned businesses. And, in just the last few months, we’ve supported over 146 small businesses across the Pacific Northwest with over $625,000. We are not done yet.
There are a number of opportunities for Black and brown business owners to land funding nationally, and locally. Our friends in the local small business support space offer funding and other learning year-round, as we work together to supplement each others’ services.
Classes & advice
We are proud to host Oregon Women’s Business Center at Mercy Corps Northwest, which is driven to offer business education, advising, and more. In response to COVID‑19, all COVID‑19 offerings are free of charge on our website. See the full list of upcoming classes here.
Today, we can share that we have a new COVID‑19 specific loan product that offers six-months of payments covered by the SBA, not the business, for all loans disbursed by Sept. 27, 2020. You can fill out a loan inquiry form here or email our loan program here. We encourage Black business owners to apply.
Supporting jailed protesters
3. “Post bail for those arrested while protesting.”
Mercy Corps Northwest’s LIFE Program works year-round with folks who are incarcerated. It’s clear to say: our justice system is not just. When it comes to posting bail for those who are incarcerated, we know it is critical. We also know that there are organizations locally who are already connected to offer this support and it is critical that we echo the critical, and crucial service they provide.
Here’s a list of where our team has donated and where we encourage you to echo this message. (Be sure you write down all listed contact information for the funds if you are our protesting):
We know that we need your voice to support incarcerated folks year-round. Take the pledge and Become A Justice Advocate here.
4. “Be the positive organization you are.”
At Mercy Corps Northwest we are a nonprofit, but we are run by humans. Humans who care about you, who care about our community. These comments and pieces of feedback mean more than you’d know. We also know that we have work to do when it comes to best supporting our Black community, internally and externally, and best supporting each individual who walks through our doors.
Here is what you can expect from ALL members of our team:
- We commit to taking action to dismantle racist systems.
- We commit to raising our voice in the face of bigotry.
- We commit to listen and respond when we get it wrong.
To share our commitments with you, we added similar staff commitments to occupy our physical office space in early March. While this is only a piece of it, we want to share with you a bit of our humanity, and what we commit to you when you walk through our doors and dial into a meeting.
- We stand with the Black community and are committing to take action on our team. Read more here.
- We will continue to listen and respond to our Black community. If you’d like to share your feedback with us, please send us a message here.
- We invite you to walk with us. This Thursday at Revolution Hall our team will once again join the protest as a group. We welcome you, your friends, and your family to join us. You are always welcome at Mercy Corps Northwest.