There are many ways to participate in democracy and capitalistic society, from voting in every election to volunteering for your favorite candidate. Shopping at Black, Latino, LGBTQ, female, veteran and other minority owned businesses is a great way to make a difference. As the most direct way to vote or drive change is with your dollars and where you spend your money, and you can exercise that form of democracy every single day.

Every time you shop for groceries, pick out a new outfit, purchase something online or grab a cup of coffee, you can make the impactful choice to shop at a female or minority owned businesses. Shopping at a small disadvantaged business carries a host of benefits for your community, your neighbors and most importantly for yourself. Think about how powerful it can be if you change how and where you spend some of your income. As women and minorities have a combined buying power of around $10 trillion dollars, or about 66% of total US buying power. Here are 12 reasons to shop Latino, Black, women and other disadvantaged companies first, every time you buy.

Why shop minority and female owned businesses?

1. The money almost always stays in your community. When you shop at a big box store, the money you spend ends up in the pockets of corporate investors or high priced executives (who are all mostly white males), but shopping at minority or women owned companies puts cash into the places and community where you live, work and raise your family.

Shop and support black owned businesses

2. You can often get to know the business owners. The minority or female business owner of the local pet store may sit next to you in church. The proprietor of the coffee or beverage shop down the street waves to you as you come in every morning. The black owned online company may support many of the same causes as you. Those personal connections and belief in a cause are impossible to replicate when you shop at chain stores and retail giants.

3. Shopping at female, veteran, and minority companies creates jobs. The majority of new jobs are created by entrepreneurs and small business owners, including the men and women who own the shops in your home-town. It helps address employment inequality, as the unemployment rate for the Hispanic and Black community is always higher than the national average. Shopping at a disadvantaged company is good for the economy, so think local first.

4. Help fight inequality, systemic racism and sexism and generational wealth gaps. Female and minority businesses often struggle with past historical challenges such as access to bank funding, generational wealth, sexism, discrimination, and others. It can help fight systemic racism and sexism. Spending some of your income at a small business will help put pressure on those mostly white male CEOs who make tens of millions of dollars and it can help make a difference in income inequality.

5. You will be contributing to the growth of your community, causes, and beliefs. The taxes paid by business owners goes to support the school district your child attends, the churches where you worship and the business where you yourself may be employed. When you shop Latin, LGBTQ or another group, you have a direct stake in helping small business owned or entrepreneurs grow their business and hit their goals.

6. Unique products abound. Shopping at a minority owned or run company is good for the community, but it is also good for you. From homemade jewelry celebrating your cultural, such as African-American or South American, and handcrafted accessories to craft beers and black owner made wines, your community is filled with products you just cannot find anywhere else.

7. You can often leave the car at home by spending your money at minority websites. Instead of driving hither and yon and spewing out tons of carbon dioxide, you can let your fingers do the typing or your feet do the walking as many of these are small, local businesses. Many minority and LGBTQ businesses only sell online and have no physical store presence. When you shop within the confines of your culture, you can get your shopping done without giving more money to people like Jeff Bezos, who has more than enough at $200 billion dollars.

8. Many women and minority businesses support local community groups and social causes. From the local baseball teams to the 5K you ran in to support a local charity or given back to veterans, small businesses as well as entrepreneurs are always there to lend a hand. When you shop at a disadvantaged company, you support these charitable endeavors, minority owned charities as well as non-profits and team-building organizations, so the community can grow stronger every day.

9. Support different (or your own!) culture. Many minority run companies, in particular Latino, Black, and LGTBQ, were started by entrepreneurs who design, manufacture, create and sell items that celebrate their culture. Or they may sell items that address needs of the culture, such as certain fit of clothing or certain health benefits. They are often very creative designers. Shopping at minority and women owned companies celebrates diversity.

10. You will be supporting yourself. Shopping where you live, work and play as well as for goods that you associate with culturally is good for others, but it is even better for you. When you shop at say business you associate with (maybe LGBTQ or veteran owned company), you help create a better local environment for everyone, one where you and your family can continue to thrive.

11. Customer service is often top priority from these small businesses. The owners of smaller minority and female owned businesses have a vested interest in serving their customers, and that can mean a better experience for you. Every time you buy a product, shop for clothes or order a cup of coffee, you interact directly with people you associate with – and enjoy service with a smile.

12. You will be building karma points for your own entrepreneurial dreams. Maybe you harbor dreams of running your own business or startup company someday, and shopping local gives you an inside look into the lives of your fellow entrepreneurs. Talk to those business owners to get advice. The money you spend can accumulate karma points, so you can enjoy your own success in the future. Heck, maybe you can even talk to one of these small business owners to learn how they did it, the barriers they overcame, and how they opened their business – even ask them for mentoring. Or find a list of mentoring programs for females and minority entrepreneurs.

Support females, veterans, Black, Latino and minorities – help make a difference

Every shopping experience is a choice. Where you spend your money is a decision you need to make. From which products you buy and services you engage to where you spend your hard-earned money, you make those critical choices every single day, so why not shop at a female or minority owned business first? Shopping in your local community is a great way to support your friends and neighbors, women or minorities and support social causes.

Yes, you may not receive an overnight Amazon package or have to wait a couple extra days for a package from a small, minority or women owned business. Perhaps ordering may take an extra minute of your time.

If only one million people spend $50 per week (on minority and women businesses), that is $50 million per week, or $260 million per year. That could reduce the revenue at companies like Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, etc by $260 million per year and give that money to women or minority businesses. You can even think of the net effect being $520 million (take $260 million from the big “boys” and give that $260 million to women and minorities).

Shopping at a disadvantaged small business helps address inequality that has been building for generations in the Black, Latino, and female community. And of course you get some great, often more unique or meaningful, stuff for yourself and your family.

By Jon McNamara