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Take the 55 Challenge

July 24, 2020



As a follow up to our hosting the Black Businesses Matter Tour in 2016, it was apparent that there is a wealth and depth of Black entrepreneurship in our city and in the Triangle region. It was also apparent that most Black businesses would be considered micro businesses --  sole proprietors with no employees.  While it's encouraging that the entrepreneurial drive is present, the reality is that there is a tremendous need for capacity-building for existing businesses and resources for startups to level the economic playing field.  And this is a task we must undertake ourselves.


How then can we build our business sectors so that they are competitive and sustainable?  Could 55 people put $ 1,000,000 into circulation in 30 days to start to rebuild Durham's Black economy?  Could 55 people make a difference? We say "yes" that it can be done with directed spending using a plan that can be replicated across many other business sectors.


We call it the 55 Challenge. It's simple. It's easy. And here's how it works. Since the new year is already upon us, let's start the kickoff in January 2019. A January launch date gives everyone who's interested time to talk it up with friends, family and co-workers to encourage them to take the 55 Challenge.


Starting on January 1st, we need 55 Black people to visit any one of the 31 Black-owned restaurants on our Black Restaurant Calendar. If you do the math -- 55 people eating at one of 31 restaurants, yields 1,705 restaurant visits (55 x 31) on the first day.


On the second day, January 2nd, another 55 people will take the same action -- visit any one of the 31 restaurants on the calendar. This totals 3,410 restaurant visits on day two. On the following day, January 3rd, another 55 people will visit any one of the restaurants and so on through January 31st. By the end of January, there will have been 52,855 (1,705 x 31) restaurant visits based on 55  people  visiting just one restaurant each day in January.


Now let's put some money on it. If participants spend $ 20 per visit, our collective spending will generate $ 1,057,100 (52,855 x $ 20) in revenue in January. Bear in mind that different persons each day will comprise the 52,885 visits. Since there are approximately 70,000 Black adult residents in Durham (plus visitors and workers), reaching this goal is achievable.


All it takes is 55 Black people making a decision to eat at a Black restaurant just once a month. This also means that we have to share the 55 Challenge with every Black person we know. We hope that you see the incredible power of directed spending and how it only takes 55 people to start a tidal wave of money circulating in our community. Imagine the impact if more than 55 people participate each day, if people visit more than once a month or if they spend more than $ 20.  The result is mind-boggling and the money generated is huge if this plan is applied to other business sectors such as tax/accounting businesses, construction trades, etc. where Black businesses comprise a large share of those sectors.   


We can continue to sit back, complain and theorize OR we can take action into our own hands. Nobody's stopping us but us. We can grow on our future with directed spending and create our own upward economic spiral. This means that our restaurants can serve more customers, hire more workers and compete with mainstream restaurants -- while reducing poverty and other social ills that afflict our community. The food service business is one of our nation's and our community's strongest economic sectors and boosting spending in this sector will produce immediate results.


Be the change your want to see and support the 55 Challenge.  Our future depends on it.  #takethe55challenge








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