NewsLocal NewsA Better Land


Cleveland ranks as one of the worst places for minority entrepreneurs to succeed

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jan 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-17 18:25:06-05

CLEVELAND — The dream to be his own boss is coming true for a young entrepreneur, but it's a success story one national lender found is not happening in Cleveland at the rate seen in other major American cities.

It is no secret that you need cash and a lot of it to launch a new business.

"Just being a minority in America, that's not easy to obtain," said Betsy Gates.

That funding challenge did not stop Gates.

"You have to be smart about what you're doing. It's a money game," said Gates.

Gates owns Simply Betsy, a Cleveland company that sells vegan soap.

"Every day that I make money is a successful day," said Gates.

However, that success is out of reach for many in our city, according to Lending Tree.

"Certainly, it is an area of concern," said Marsha Mockabee, Urban League of Greater Cleveland.

Cleveland ranks 48th overall out of the 50 biggest metro areas where minority entrepreneurs are succeeding.

"As we look at that data we have to put it in context," said Mockabee.

While Mockabee and the Urban League has helped more minority-owned businesses open in the city over the years, according to Lending Tree, we still have the lowest number based on the racial makeup of our city.

"We need to develop a mindset in our communities to support local," said Mockabee.

The lender also dinged us for having fewer minorities who are self-employed, like Victor Searcy Jr.

The 29-year old owns Sauce the City Cleveland, which recently opened up at Ohio City Galley.

"It hurts me seeing Cleveland at the bottom, so we definitely have to do some work," said Searcy.

The Urban League is currently working with elected officials to make sure minority entrepreneurs don't get burned by predatory lenders.

"I ran into that problem also starting off," said Searcy.

Mockabee told News 5 she has heard from clients who were charged 50-100 person interest.

"There's no way that a small business can repay that kind of debt and still have money to invest in the business to make it grow," said Mockabee.

Gates’ advice to up-and-coming businesses is do your homework.

"We can pull the minority card all day long, it's about how smart you are. Where is your wisdom at," said Gates.

The Urban League of Greater Cleveland is stepping up to offer free guidance for those looking to get their business off the ground.

"To really grow from where they are today to where it is they are trying to go," said Mockabee.

It's not all bad news for Cleveland. Fifty-five percent of the minority-owned businesses like Simply Betsy have been open for more than six years.

"I am not per se at the level that I want to be. I'm successful at what I'm doing, I'm still doing it," said Gates.