Family develops Ebony Experiment

Consumers are scratching to survive the economic crisis and small businesses being hit as worse as corporations. Yet, in this treacherous economic climate, John C. Anderson and his wife, Maggie Anderson have vied to “buy black” to show support for black businesses the entire year.

Mr. Anderson, a Harvard graduate with a MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and Mrs. Anderson has a JD and MBA from the University of Chicago, said they will make every possible effort to hire or work with black owned businesses or professionals whenever they need to make a purchase or they are in need of services.

“We hope to prove that African-American communities can be improved when African-American consumers and investors support their own,” said Mr. Anderson.

The Andersons, who live in a Chicago suburb, have pioneered “The Ebony Experiment,” a grass-roots campaign that seeks to encourage middle-and upper-class blacks to buy exclusively from black companies and professionals during 2009 to stimulate job creation and overall economic growth.

“We will prove that we have everything we need to maximize our community’s potential – if we just learn to strategically and seriously support our own strengths,” said Mr. Anderson.

For the Andersons, “The Ebony Experiment” will be no small undertaking as they will transition their standing contracts and household expenditures which include loans, utility bills, credit cards, etc., to truly execute their initiative.

The Andersons will track their progress on the experiment’s Web site, The website will feature a ticker that tracks the Anderson’s expenditures in real time with a national goal of one million dollars by 2010.

“During the coming months we want ‘The Ebony Experiment’ to become a national movement connecting black consumers and investors to black businesses and professionals,” said Mrs. Anderson.

Mrs. Anderson also created a blog where she shares the triumphs and disasters of buying black.

Campaigns that encourage support of black owned businesses have been around a long time. The Andersons suggest that the experiment will be the first time a black couple provides an invitation to watch how they do it and follow their lead.

There are nearly 2.5 million African-American households with incomes over $100,000, the Andersons say. These are the households ‘The Ebony Experiment’ will target. 

“The black community is energized and engaged as we look to 2009. This is the perfect time to leverage that excitement by maximizing the potential of our business community and the bargaining power of black consumers and investors,” said Mr. Anderson.

The concept has attracted the attention of numerous leaders and scholars including renowned author Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and Steven Rogers, the director of the Levy Institute of Entrepreneurial Practice at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

At the end of the experiment, a comprehensive study and book are planned, according to the Andersons.

“Ultimately, this will unify the struggling and successful sectors of the black community so we can determine and improve our standing together,” Mr. Anderson said.