All Articles Tagged "black business"
Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) weekend brings in a lot of festivities and cash flow to North Carolina but what is it doing for black businesses? That’s what one journalist from the Charlotte Observer insists on knowing.
Established in 1912, CIAA is the oldest African American athletic conference in the nation. Each year, athletes from a list of Division II historically black colleges and universities on the East coast gather in the name of competition.
But let’s get to the real reasons why many people attend CIAA weekend… the parties. To describe it, CIAA is to Charlotte what the Essence Festival is to New Orleans. Or if you haven’t been to the Essence Festival, it’s like what Howard homecoming is to Washington DC. And if you haven’t been to Howard’s homecoming weekend, I’m wondering how you’re getting Internet service under that rock you’ve been living under! (Go Bisons!!)
Charlotte’s CIAA weekend attracts almost 200,000 black patrons looking for a good time and places to spend their money. But other than a few parties during the day and even more parties at night, there is little invested in black businesses. Many of the parties take place at upscale hotels uptown.
When columnist Glenn Burkins asked Mike Butts executive director of Visit Charlotte, the sales and marketing arm of Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, how CIAA was benefiting Charlotte’s black businesses, Butts replied that the subject has never come up during any of meetings he has attended.
This is disappointing since the tournament pumps tens of millions of dollars into the local economy and there is no focus to get these dollars into the hands of black business owners with so many HBCU grads and black initiative supporters in town at the same time.
It appears that the Visit Charlotte advisory board and the CIAA Committee have missed the mark. CIAA has been hosted in Charlotte since 2005 and many black business owners, according to the Observer, have seen little to any direct benefits, while they struggle to attract clientele and connect with other businesses.
With the CIAA host city contract up for bid after 2014, hopefully light will be shown on this issue during the negotiations and lead to more engagement of black businesses in the future. This weekend, I for one will do my part at CIAA to patronize as many black businesses as I can and attend several African-American-promoted festivities — all in the name of research.
Follow CAP on Twitter: @in_allcaps
I feel like I’ve heard this at least once before but it never hurts to repeat it when you’re constantly criticized for not doing enough for your people. In a recent interview with Black Enterprise, President Barack Obama was asked how he feels about criticism that his administration hasn’t done enough to support black businesses, and he said this:
“My general view has been consistent throughout, which is that I want all businesses to succeed. I want all Americans to have opportunity. I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America, but the programs that we have put in place have been directed at those folks who are least able to get financing through conventional means, who have been in the past locked out of opportunities that were available to everybody. So, I’ll put my track record up against anybody in terms of us putting in place broad-based programs that ultimately had a huge benefit for African American businesses.”
The president definitely does have an entire nation to worry about, and theoretically a positive policy for American business should improve Black American business under that umbrella, but that doesn’t mean that certain segments of the population don’t need or even receive more attention than others when it comes to various issues. Not long ago, the president openly supported gay marriage, and though it’s not as though he could create a policy to legalize same-sex marriage across the country, the move was a serious head nod to the gay community—albeit a political one.
A comment on BE’s interview summarizes well the frustration some black people feel with the president. One reader wrote:
“He’s not the president of black america, yet he needs the black vote!! When other groups holler they get his attention, when we do we’re told to stop complaining and put on our marching boots. We defend him the most and get s***ted on by him in the process. Black unemployment is through the roof and we have no right to complain?”
When asked about the 14% black unemployment rate, the president offered this:
“Most economists will tell you that there is no doubt the economy has gotten stronger, but we are digging ourselves out a deep hole. There are a lot more things we could be doing. To get them done, we need cooperation of Congress. We got the payroll tax portion of [my American Jobs Act] done, but what we didn’t get done is the assistance I was proposing to the states to help them hire back teachers, firefighters, and first responders, because one of the weakest parts of this recovery has been state and local government hiring.
“Given the weaknesses of the construction industry, the American Jobs Act proposed that we rebuild schools, roads, bridges, airport, and ports. That would provide small businesses with opportunities as contractors and vendors in this rebuilding process. Again, Congress needs to act.”
And when it comes to housing, he said:
“Something that has disproportionally affected a lot of minority communities around the country, both African American and Hispanic, [is that] they were preyed upon when it came to predatory lending. What we have been able to do is to help those who have mortgages held by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We have been able to help them refinance at historically low rates, which saves somebody as much as $2,500 a year. And that’s money in their pockets that they can either be spending at your local small business or [to] help them rebuild equity in their homes.
“My goal, not just leading up to the election but as long as I’m president of the United States, where we have the capacity to act on our own through the executive branch to widen opportunity or to give small businesses a fair shot, we are going to do it.”
It’s possible we’ll have the next four years to see how that pans out.
Do you agree with the president’s take on helping black businesses during the economic recovery?
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Maggie Anderson, her husband John and her two daughters live in an upscale suburban Chicago neighborhood in a nice house and live a nice life. Both Anderson and her husband hold MBAs from top notch schools and have successful careers. And yet as they tell PBS Newshour, they felt as if something was missing.
“We thought we should be doing more, and we thought we should be doing stuff with the money that we made,” Maggie said.
The Andersons decided to create a black year. For 12 months, they made sure no matter what they needed or did, “it was with a black company, a black family company, buy a product made from a black company, use black professionals, shop in black communities.”
It wasn’t easy. As they embarked on their black year, they found they had to drive a little farther to find black businesses, and when they did, sometimes the selection wasn’t as great and prices were higher.
“So we got gas, food, and a dry cleaner. Everything else, we were just desperate and hopeful that something would pop up,” Maggie said of her search in finding black owned businesses for her family’s needs. “And in the third month, we got a general merchandise outlet. And in the fourth month, we finally found a place to buy clothes and shoes for our daughters.”
Black businesses weren’t just far away, they also seemed to be disappearing. When searching for dry cleaners, they found only one about two and a half miles away in a African American West side.
“Well, years ago, it used to be a lot of black-owned businesses around,” James Forrest, the owner of the dry cleaner they found said. “And, you know, funding just went down and things just went kind of kaput after that. And it just — black-owned businesses just seemed to leave the area.”
The Andersons realized that black businesses were dying, partly because African American consumers don’t choose to invest or hire in the community. They see a direct connection to their experience and the high 14 percent African American unemployment rate.
They mention these findings, and chronicle their experience in their recently released book, “Our Black Year.”
“Don’t just say that black unemployment is four times that of whites. Say that black businesses only get 2 percent of the $1 trillion of black buying power, and then say that black businesses are the greatest private employer of black people,” Maggie said.
“Then you might be able to say, wow, if there were more support of black businesses, if maybe a little more of that $1 trillion got to those businesses, unemployment wouldn’t be so high.”
Through their experience, the Andersons sought to make a difference in the state of black businesses. Maggie helped raise awareness of one business in particular, Covenant Bank, a small black-owned bank that reinvests in the community.
Board Member Kim Jackson says that before Maggie stepped in the bank only saw about one percent of black business.
But now she reports, “I would say maybe 10 percent of my customers, you know, because of Maggie.”
The Anderson family was able to show that by stepping in to buy black and to assist black business growth, it’s possible to bring economic revitalization to the black community one business and one city at a time.
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As we all know, the online space provides a world of opportunity for tech specialists who know how to generate traffic and command eyeballs for advertisors. But what we are less aware of is the idealogy that governs decisions by advertisors and how they handle the “urban” markets. Through their years of experience, Dawn Ali and Curtis Love understand how the playing field is not equal when it comes to how advertisers handle different demographics, which is why they teamed together to create IncreaseTraffic.co to cater to Black businesses online.
The idea for IncreaseTraffic.co was created when [Dawn] noticed that black websites/publishers weren’t treated or paid the same. The idea ascertains that black websites with higher traffic than websites that appeal to white individuals are not paid as much by advertisers, and it has become increasingly a challenge for anyone to profit online…especially black sites.
Ali is an internet marketer and website administrator who is best known for The Dawn Ali Network and the forum Loving My Sistas. Curtis Love is a website designer and programming specialist whose specialized in SEO techniques. IncreaseTraffic.co includes its own ad server and caters specifically to the African-American market. The teams’ goal is to increase the money-making opportunities for Black websites and blogs. According to BlackNews, the site is already ranked in the top 100,000 websites in the world based on Alexa traffic ranking site.
Read more about this new venture at BlackNews.com
John Hope Bryant, the founder of Operation HOPE, knows the importance of financial education. His organization launched the 700 Credit Score initiative to help those in the black community who struggle with average credit scores that make them vulnerable to predatory lending and payday loans. The organization also helps to teach underserved youth the importance of financial literacy and entrepreneurship. While Bryant’s work is certainly needed, perhaps his work would not be needed quite as much if there were, as he contemplated to Bloomberg, a black Bill Gates.
What Barack Obama and the black members of government provide in the political world is still lacking in the business world, according to Bryant. The black community still needs a business image that equals its political image. It needs to see inspiration of how blacks can succeed on a global economic scheme. The article asserts that if Bill Gates were a black man, it would have a greater impact on African Americans than even Barack Obama. While African Americans have fought for civil rights and the right to vote, they still value and understand the global power of money.
If there were a black economic player like Bill Gates, there is a greater possibility that the effects of that would extend into Silicon Valley and other areas of entrepreneurship hubs in the nation. In addition, there may be a changed value system and “culture of philanthropy” that would carry past the idea of church that would help to build up black communities.
While some may look to Oprah Winfrey as that black role model, she’s doesn’t quite match Bill Gates’ level of influence. A black entrepreneur on his level would be able to create thousands of jobs, would have a product that is used in each of our daily lives, and would inspire young people to excel. Young people would connect this image as an inspiration to be smart and to do even do better in school. A black Bill Gates would be the inspiration needed to help African Americans move forward.
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Ruth J. Morrison, the founder of of the digital media and news company “What’s The 411,” can rejoice in her history-making move. Her Brooklyn-based firm recently became the first media company to receive credentials to cover the U.S. Supreme Court. Constitutional law professor Gloria Browne-Marshall, who teaches at John Jay College of The City University of New York, represented the network as a correspondent and listened to the cases Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum and Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority on February 28th.
“My mission is to report on the U.S. Supreme Court in a manner that is accessible to the general public and of assistance to scholars at large, said Gloria Browne-Marshall. “I applaud What’s The 411 Networks for its willingness to cover the actions of the U.S. Supreme Court, as not enough attention is paid to the Third branch of government. The general population knows the least about the workings of the U.S. Supreme Court; yet its rulings become the law of the land.”
Morrison was the first Executive Director of the Brooklyn International Trade Development Center and has an illustrious career in the media industry, having worked as a producer for WNYC-TV and as the first African-American woman beat reporter to cover the NY Knicks. She was also a communications fellow at the Annenberg Washington Program at Northwestern University and a Communications Director for the U.S. Congress. She holds a master’s degree in Interactive Telecommunications from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
There’s always lots of talk about “buying black” but few people actually do it. A few years ago, Chicago mother Maggie Anderson made her family put their money where their mouth is and for an entire year they only bought black—which she says wasn’t as easy as it sounds.
“What we found was when we went to the West Side, yes, there were some black businesses, but they are all concentrated in the stereotypical black industries: soul food restaurants, barber shops, braiding salons,” she told Fox news. “We could not find those basic things that every community needs to survive: a grocery store, dry cleaner, department store, general merchandise, mom and pop shops.”
Going beyond the lack of retailers. Maggie said most of the businesses she did find weren’t owned by people in the community and they didn’t employ people from the community either.
“We have all these consumers with hard-earned wealth spending money at businesses, and that money exits the community and goes to empower other people’s communities when our communities need that money.”
To bring about awareness of the struggling black economy and encourage consumers to follow in her footsteps, Maggie detailed her experience in the book, Our Black Year. Now that a couple of years have passed since the experiment, she says “It’s turning into a movement.”
“This came out of a conversation that happens among a lot of African American middle class households. We remember a time when we didn’t have these problems because we had local businesses that kept our communities strong. Those businesses are gone.
“We figured maybe if we did something extreme to bring that issue into the national dialogue, we can get folks to start supporting the few great businesses that we do have and maybe inspire economic empowerment.”
Check out Maggie’s interview here. Have you ever tried to only buy black?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Today, the PR industry is dominated by women. It’s certainly one of the few areas in small business where women rule. Michelle Flowers Welch is not just an example of a women in pr success story but stands as an example of a black women successfully crafting a career in multicultural marketing and public relations. She launched her firm, Flowers Communications Group, twenty years ago. Since she launched her own business, she tells mediabistro that she has seen an improvement in multicultural marketing although it is still a work in progress.
“When I first started the company and even prior to that, it was a hard sell to get corporations to see the need to develop specific, authentic programs to reach African American and Latino consumers. It was almost like people would see the numbers but not yet the importance of changing the communications approach to reach that consumer base. Many thought they could use the same strategic approach, take the same ad, and plug in people of color, and put it in publications of color.”
Flowers originally wanted to go into journalism but got steered into PR by a guidance counselor. She went on to work with the Chicago Urban League and then to the big agency GolinHarris. She followed that impressive experience by moving on to Burrell Communications where she served as SVP.
Flowers eventually set up her own boutique agency in 1992 to target multicultural audiences and has successfully sustained a foothold in the competitive industry.
I recently learned about PinkBoss through one of their former clients who had nothing but rave reviews for them, and I’m a fan of anything that encourages entrepreneurship. Their mission is to empower women to become economically self-sufficient through entrepreneurship, and they can help take your business idea or startup business to the next level while also providing tools and services to manage the business once it’s up and running. They’ve also got a great free resources section on their website to help prospective entrepreneurs get started.
A self-proclaimed “multi-entrepreneur,” Parker balances family and entrepreneurship with flare and a style all her own. Garnering the attention of aspiring female business owners, Parker, along with her husband, created PinkBoss, Inc, a one-stop business boutique for women in need of that extra push of support from branding and marketing to website development.
Her mission and purpose is to empower women to use their passion and skills to generate income that will allow them the flexibility to do what they love every day. Parker has taught several entrepreneurship workshops and is currently teaching her first curriculum, “The Pink Princess Guide to Entrepreneurship,” in the metro Atlanta area. She credits her success to community involvement, which landed her the opportunity to facilitate the Black Enterprise Youth Entrepreneur Conference in both 2010 and 2011.
TB: What was the inspiration behind starting ThePinkBoss?
VP: I started PinkBoss, Inc because I wanted to become a resource for female entrepreneurs that offered business services as well as consulting.
TB: How many partners and employees do you currently have?
VP: I currently have 3 employees and I am launching my Internpreneur Program and hope to have 5 interns by February 1. Our Internpreneur Program is a 4 month internship with PinkBoss, Inc offering 12 weeks of business development and compensation of over $5,000 in business start up services to assist them with their business ventures after the completion of our program.
TB: What is your ideal client profile in terms of the type and stage of business they’re in and background of the founder(s) (for example, first time entrepreneurs with a corporate background starting service businesses)?
VP: My ideal client is a woman that has a business venture in mind but needs that extra push to take the next step. She is lacks the resources and direction to achieve her goals and we are able to assist her through consulting and business services.
TB: What is your best client success story?
VP: One of my clients was on the fence about starting her business. She has a great job but was not happy with her daily routine. After a few weeks of accountability meetings I was able to assist her with a strategic plan in starting her event planning business while still working her full time job. She recently called me in tears because she is booked for the next two months and thankful that PinkBoss, Inc helped her jump start her business idea.
TB: What’s your favorite business-related mobile app?
VP: I have two Evernote and Square. Evernote allows me to capture my thoughts, notes articles and more and sync on my iPad, iPhone and desktop. Square allows me to obtain payments while out of the office and at vendor events. It has increase my sales by 20% in only a few months.
TB: What are your favorite business-related web services (e.g. mailchimp, wordpress, wufoo, etc.)?
- Jotform ~ Allows me to create web forms instantly
- Mailchimp ~ Auto responder, list management and email marketing in one. I use this service often
- Hootesuite ~ Monitors my various social media platforms and allows me to schedule my team to assist in scheduling social media content
- Safe Sync ~ Service backs up files on my computer and allows me access to files remotely
- CRM Zoho ~ Keep track of resources, potential clients and campaign conversions.
- Google Analytics ~ Best kept secret of small business owners. Allows me to monitor the visitors to my website and create marketing strategies based on reports.
TB: What sets your company apart from other biz dev service providers?
VP: Our focus is on the advancement of female entrepreneurs. We offer business consulting services as well as business and brand development services all things needed to create a sustainable business.
Women entrepreneurs are flourishing at rates higher than the national average, an official at the United States Department of Commerce reports, and black female entrepreneurs comprise a large part of that success story.
Rebecca M. Blank, the acting deputy secretary of commerce tells BET that businesses owned by black women have a total sales count of almost $37 billion, a 78 percent increase since 2002. Most of these business owners take on businesses in health care, social assistance, administrative and support and waste management. In addition to women entrepreneurs, Blank also disclosed that “women make up a far larger percentage of minority-owned business than they do in white-owned businesses.”
These findings and other important business statistics were discussed at a forum recently held in New York City sponsored by the Obama administration. Over 200 women entrepreneurs took part in the forum, which featured top-ranking businesswomen who offered their experience, lessons and advice for how to grow business to the group.
Blank revealed that these women businesses were not only expanding, they were growing despite financial boundaries.
“Women are far less likely to use external capital and more likely to rely on their own credit cards,” she said. “And the question is: How do we open more avenues to access to capital for women.”
Entrepreneur speakers touched on these difficulties, and stressed the importance of research to create solid business plans.
“I had to learn to really crunch the numbers and to understand the necessity of doing the financials,” entrepreneur Monique Greenwood said at the conference. Greenwood is the owner and chief executive of Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns, which is a 16-year-old hospitality company. She has locations in Brooklyn, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“It’s extremely important for women to follow their passions — and to do the financial work,” she said.
The White House Business Council, the White House Council on Women and Girls and the United States Small Business Administration were also key sponsors to the event.