November 27, 2021 is Small Business Saturday; a day designated to “celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities.” Small businesses have been some of the hardest hit during the pandemic, with 9 million small U.S. businesses projected to shut down. Black-owned businesses have been experiencing the brunt of that burden with small Black-owned businesses experiencing a 50% decrease in revenue. Given the noteworthy racial disparities in small business funding and pandemic relief, the impact of buying from Black-owned businesses is pivotal. Abu Fofanah is a business owner who helps entrepreneurs learn about brand visibility and monetization. In an email, Abu shared with the Forbes readers a bit about his entrepreneurship journey and what advice he would give to Black-owned businesses trying to stay afloat.
Janice Gassam Asare: Talk to us about your business. Could you share with the Forbes readers what your business focuses on?
Abu Fofanah: I run a marketing accelerator focused on teaching business owners and entrepreneurs how to market and monetize their business online and on social. There are so many entrepreneurs who have great ideas, products or services but struggle with getting it in front of customers. My goal is to give economic empowerment to business owners by teaching them a skill they can use to develop proper marketing campaigns to get their business the visibility it deserves. Since starting the marketing accelerator, we’ve served almost 10,000 students and over 90% are women-owned businesses.
Asare: What made you want to start helping people with Facebook ads?
Fofanah: Early on I saw a discrepancy in business owners utilizing their social platforms to make sales. I saw other counterparts of ours using social media to gather input and data to communicate with their customers. Seeing both things happening, I wanted to bridge the gap and help minority, women-owned, and solo entrepreneurs learn how to use social media to gather data to communicate better with their customers. This would lead to not only more visibility but more sales. I chose Facebook and Instagram because this was the platform of choice. I chose to teach ads because I felt once you learn this skillset, you could position yourself to make income.
Asare: How has Covid-19 impacted your business?
Fofanah: Covid actually accelerated our business. The Power Your Launch Marketing Accelerator got pushed to the forefront. Many people that were leaving their jobs to pursue their passions turned to us to help them monetize. Many small businesses and mom and pops leaned on us to teach them how to get in front of customers online instead of typically offline.
Covid helped us accelerate [bringing] businesses to the digital world. And now that we’re here, more people are understanding [that] the future is about finding, communicating, and making sales online. Since Covid hit, we went from helping 500 students in 12 months to 5,000 students in the same amount of time. I’m very fortunate to be at this intersection where my company is called to help other business owners stay in business.
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Asare: What advice do you have for Black business owners, many of whom have been negatively impacted by Covid?
Fofanah: I would tell them that their effort is respected and in fact they should be proud of how they’ve been able to pivot. How many of them are doing the best they can and that’s commendable. In addition, I would tell them now is also the time to maybe pivot or sharpen up on skills that could give them an advantage. I appreciate everyone trying their best because sometimes that’s all we can do. That’s what I appreciate most about Black business owners; they’re innovators and won’t stop. And if any of them are interested in marketing their business online, I would recommend they enroll in the Power Your Launch Marketing Accelerator.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.