Impact of COVID-19 on ANS Businesses Report

April 28, 2021

Halifax, NS – April 20, 2021 – The results on what is likely the first detailed survey on the impact of COVID-19 on African Nova Scotia (ANS) owned businesses reveal that the pandemic has had a significant impact on the business community, with many experiencing revenue losses, closures, lay-offs, and shrinkage in operations. Relatively fewer businesses were able to access the various relief programs provided by the federal government and others.

The Impact of COVID-19 on African Nova Scotian Businesses Survey Report was released by the Black Business Initiative (BBI). Harvi Millar, Ph.D. of Logix Consultants Limited and Saint Mary’s University was the research consultant on the survey that was funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). The survey, the first of a two-part study, aimed, in part, to obtain knowledge that can be used to develop a comprehensive tripartite strategy for post-COVID-19 recovery of ANS businesses involving BBI, the businesses and government.

“BBI, now in our 25th year of operations, commissioned this research because of the dire circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by the brutal murder of George Floyd in the US,” said Dr. Rustum Southwell, CEO of BBI, “We intend to use this data to better understand the critical challenges faced by Black-owned businesses in Nova Scotia.”

Fifty-nine African Nova Scotian entrepreneurs from across the province, with business interests that span nine industrial categories, participated in the survey between December 2020 and February 2021. The businesses were primarily service-based and employing under five persons. The results of the survey show that COVID-19 had a significant impact on the business community with the loss of revenues; temporary and permanent closures; layoffs; low cash on hand; supplier delays; reduced operating capacity; and possible permanent shrinkage in their customer bases. The survey also found that very few of the businesses that responded were able to access the financial assistance from the various programs provided by the federal government and other entities, leaving others to resort to using personal funds. The reasons mentioned for this included ineligibility because the businesses were not among those mandated to close, as well as a perception that the application process for most of these programs was complex and cumbersome.

The survey also identified the following top five factors that are seen as significant barriers to business success:

  • Social attitudes towards Black entrepreneurs (78.2%). There is a prevailing belief, even within the community, that Black entrepreneurs are not as capable as their white counterparts, and may not be reliable or knowledgeable, and may not deliver good customer service.
  • The size of the businesses, which prevents them from scaling up (76%).
  • The lack of equity or intergenerational wealth (73%), which leads to an inability to meet the criteria for financing from most bank
  • A lack of networking opportunities (58%)
  • Difficulty in accessing local and international markets (56%)

The report also notes the ongoing concern of businesses about market uncertainty, a lack of operating capital, an inability to secure loans, permanent loss of customers, the time to return to normalcy, and the possibility of a major resurgence of the virus and its variants given the prevalence of new strains that seem to be emerging. The report includes several recommendations from the participants of the survey on alleviating the barriers and strengthening the African Nova Scotian entrepreneurship.

To survive, African Nova Scotian entrepreneurs will need capital assistance in the short term. To prepare them for long-term success coming out of the pandemic, there will be a need for deeper structural and infrastructural changes which will have implications for Black businesses themselves, the Black entrepreneurship ecosystem, government agencies, financial institutions, and other relevant stakeholder organizations.

For more information:

Download Report Here

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