All Articles Tagged "black owned business"

Black-Owned Food Trucks Dish Up A Different Flavor

November 30th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Food trucks are becoming an option for many diners, especially at lunch time. But it is rare to find a Black-owned food truck. But TheRoot talked to three Black food truck owners in various parts of the country.

NeatMeatDC in the D.C. area isn’t just your average food truck. Its menus includes offers such as “Mi So” Joe ($9.00), a vegan Joe with tofu, eggplant,  and button mushrooms finished off with a spicy carrot slaw; and El Jefé ($8.00), a pulled spiced pork Joe in a cerveza chipotle sauce topped with a pineapple pickled onion relish and cotija cheese.

Opened in 2007, NeatMeatDC was launched when Nnamdi J. Nwarneri partnered with his Howard University law school classmate Na’Im Moses.

So how did the pair go from law students to food truck owners? “‘A lawyer’s either a social engineer or he’s a parasite on society’ is a quote from Charles Hamilton Houston. We reference this quote many times, as it is interconnected to our legal education as well as our life’s mission. We believe that creating a viable business allows us to become social engineers to benefit ourselves, our friends and families, and, most importantly, our society,” Nwaneri told TheRoot.

And starting The NeatMeatDC wasn’t easy. It took 18 months to get off the ground. And it’s not cheap. A new truck is priced about $75,000. But now that they are up and running NeatMeatDC is a hit.

Over in Charlotte, N.C., Chef Michael Bowling is also taking the food truck concept to another level with his Hot Box Next Level Street Food.  “Bowling, who has 25 years of cooking experience under his apron, started his food-truck venture after a restaurant he was working for shut its doors,” reports TheRoot. Signature dishes include cheese-and-herb risotto fritters with fire-roasted pepper and arugula aioli, house-made ramen, the classic Reuben, smoked-chicken pita, and cauliflower-and-potato curry.

And Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats in Oxon Hill, Md.,  was started in 2011 by Brandon Byrd, after leaving a position at XXL magazine. Even though he didn’t have any formal culinary training, he had dreams of owning a dessert truck. But he had to jump though a lot of hops with the health department.

To learn more about these businesses, click through to TheRoot.

AfroBella Showcases 101 Black Independent Businesses To Support On Black Friday

November 26th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Thanksgiving week is looked forward to by many, but this year news that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will not be indicted for killing college-bound Mike Brown has left the nation troubled.

As rallies and protests abound, many Blacks have decided to boycott the merchandise industries they so frequently support. Instead on shopping at retail corporations on Black Friday, Blacks will instead support their own. Our friends at AfroBella have created a list of 101 independent black businesses to support on Black Friday. Some business highlights from her list are:

Karen’s Body Beautiful –

Kinky Curly –

Koils By Nature –

My Honeychild –

Tropic Isle Living –

Shea Moisture –

Dress Maker By Olivia –

Jibri –

KAntoinette Lingerie –

Monif C –

Nakimuli –

For more Black businesses to support, read AfroBella’s shopping list here.

Sisters Break Into Challenging Hair Industry To Open Beauty Supply Store

September 10th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Most of us know that 9 times out of 10 when you go to the Beauty Supply, the owners and operators of the store are Korean-American. Despite residing in predominately Black neighborhoods and selling to predominately Black clientele, the store owners rarely reflect the demographic they serve.

This is why sisters Judian and Kadeian Brown’s store is so different. These two Black women, who are also licensed beauticians, own and operate Black Girls Divine Beauty Supply and Salon located off of Church Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn

Judian told the New York Times that she often encounters patrons who are surprised to learn that she and her sister own the store instead of just working there.

“I go, ‘Look at all the faces on the boxes. Who should be owning these stores?”

While we could all agree that more Black people should own these stores, that’s not the case around the nation. Of around 10,000 stores that sell hair products to Black women, only a handful of them are owned by Blacks.

According to the Times, Korean- Americans have owned and operated beauty supply stores in Black neighborhoods since as early as the 1960s. These ownerships fueled tensions between the consumers and business owners. There were complaints of racist Korean-American owners following Black customers around the store, assuming that they were going to shoplift. And others took issue because they see Korean dominance in the industry as a way to profit off of Blacks while simultaneously disenfranchising them.

Yet, historically and even today, that discontent has rarely resulted in Black consumers choosing to shop and support Black owned beauty supplies in large numbers, across the nation.

And in many cases, Blacks who were trying to break into the market, faced enormous challenges.

Black store owners ran into problems because wholesalers, who are often Korean, require retailers to buy in bulk to qualify for discounts. Where first-time Korean owners can join forces to split the costs among several store owners, the network of Black beauty supply owners is much smaller.

In Detroit, Princess Hill explained that she would have to order 10,000 berets to get a 50 percent discount and free shipping. But in reality, she might only sell 100 berets in a year.

The inability to get a discount up front often accounts for the higher costs Black owners have to charge their patrons, leading consumers to shop elsewhere and business owners to struggle and eventually close while Korean-owned stores thrive.

But Kaysong Lee, the publisher Beauty Times, says Korea-Americans shouldn’t be demonized for their enterprise.

Lori Tharps, co-author of Hair Story, said before the influx of Korean-American shop owners, there was no one serving the African American market in this way. Instead, Blacks often bought their hair care products from salesmen who traveled door to door.

“A lot of people think these people were taking it away from Black owners, but that’s not the case. They were creating new businesses. And they were doing it in places where nobody wanted to open a store.”

The challenges of breaking into a tough market, make Judian and Kadeian’s story all the more inspiring.

If you’re in the New York City area, you can visit their beauty supply and salon, Black Girls Divine at 3904 Church Ave in Brooklyn, New York.

Attention Shoppers! New App Helps You Locate Black-Owned Businesses

December 10th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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blacktradelinesJust in time for holiday shopping — a new app that helps you locate black-owned business.

Similar to the Around The Way app, the BlackTradeLines app was created to help African-American shoppers locate and support black-owned businesses. The app creators have a bigger picture in mind. “This is a result of an ongoing movement to get the African American dollar to circulate within the community to create jobs and alleviate poverty,” reports Virtual Strategy.

“The app is designed to be functionally intelligent and to serve its purpose which is to find and alert you of black businesses any where you go automatically,” says Iyua Yakobu, the company’s senior software engineer.

The app, which can be used on iPhone and Android, can search for African-American owned business in stealth mode. So even when the app is not in use, it uses the phone’s low pulse GPS locator to alert the user when they are 100 meters in walking mode from a black-owned business or 1,000 meters in driving mode, reports the website. There is an alert message that tells the user its proximity in meters or miles between a business or multiple businesses and their location.

Black businesses are categorized by business, deals, events, activities, and videos. For business owners wanting to list a business, download the app, add the name of the business, the product or service, take a picture of the business or product and you’re live and findable.

According to BlackTradeLines, the services both on the website and mobile applications are tailored to connect business owners and their customer base all under one platform.

Black-Owned Nightclubs ‘Unfairly’ Penalized By Rhode Island Officials

August 16th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Two black-owned nightclubs, Jovan’s Lounge and Snubs, have been “unfairly” punished and fined for gang-related violence that occurred near the establishments. The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) and NAACP have come forward to defend the two businesses, insinuating that the unusually harsh penalties are discriminatory, reports Go Local Prov.

At about outside of Jovan’s Lounge gunfire erupted between a police sergeant and a suspected gang member. Sgt. Curt Desautels, the officer, is uninjured, but Duvall Carty, 24, remains in critical condition.

In the same time frame, two people were wounded at a shooting near Snubs. These events, which took place three weeks ago, spurred the Providence City Solicitor (PCS) and the Providence Board of Licenses (PBL) to fine Jovan’s $500 and impose a 90-day license suspension. The specifics of Snub’s penalties are unknown.

“I’m worried about the precedent of closing these two establishments that happened outside of their control,” said Jim Vincent of the NAACP. “It would be like if a crime happened outside your home. How could you be held responsible? Or if it happened outside a bank—could we close the bank?”

Carty, the wounded alleged gang member, was ejected from Jovan’s Lounge for fighting before the violent exchange. Representatives of Jovan’s Lounge admitted “an inability to maintain efficient and affirmative supervision of patrons to maintain order…” the Providence Journal reported.

“There’s no excuse for gang violence, but gang activity isn’t going to stop because we close these establishments down,” Vincent added. The RIBBA and NAACP released a statement on Tuesday imploring the city’s solicitor and the Board of Licenses to reconsider the punitive measures.

“These penalties have forced Jovan’s lounge to lose revenue by closing for months and Snubs, Inc to take on additional expenses amounting to unusually harsh penalties for events that took place off of their premises in public areas,” the statement said.

The RIBBA and NAACP also urged the PCS and PBL to take into account the nightclubs’ benefit to the community. “Jovan’s Lounge and Snubs, Inc are two long established Providence black businesses with close ties to the black community,” the statement added. “They are among the small number of black businesses in Rhode Island that provide employment primarily to minority residents, performing artists and musicians.”

Co-signing with Vincent’s sentiments, Lisa Ranglin, President of the RIBBA, is most concerned about how the closings of these nightclubs will affect Providence; “I have binders of qualified people of color who are unable to find jobs. It’s not because of education, but perhaps they don’t fit a model or look a certain way,” she says.

Should the harsh penalties be re-considered?

Failing Black-Owned Chicago Bank Loses Deal To Recapitalize

August 6th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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via Highland Community Bank homepage

via Highland Community Bank homepage

And then there were two.

It’s a wrap for Highland Community Bank, one of three of Chicago’s black-owned banks. The owner of Highland could not raise the $8 million needed for a deal to recapitalize the bank; the institution may now become defunct, reports Crain’s Chicago Business.

Matthew Roth, a former bank executive of Harris Bank, announced a deal in March to bring Highland back on its feet. Although it would no longer be a black-owned bank, he specified that it would be a “minority-focused financial institution” — more than 50 cent of board members would be non-white. The bank would be renamed Generations Community. However, generating nearly $10 million for the deal was too burdensome for Highland.

As MN has reported, Highland has been struggling to retain its vitality for years. Last year the $83 million-asset bank lost $2.2 million. The first half of this year, the bank posted a $781,000 loss. By June 30, their equity crumbled to $1.9 million.

Highland’s most valuable capital — known as “Tier I capital” — was only 2.5 percent of its assets. “A Tier I leverage ratio at 2 percent or lower typically means regulators will seize a bank soon thereafter,” added Crain’s. With the bank severely undercapitalized, Highland is on the brink of downfall.

The demand for non-white financial institutions has dwindled, leading to a number of bank failures. Prior to the 1970s, minority borrowers had difficulty obtaining loans from lenders. As a result, minority-owned banks sprouted throughout America to satisfy the needs of the community. “But because of the federal Community Reinvestment Act, a 1977 law that requires bank to lend in-less-advantaged areas of their communities, this is not as of much an issue anymore,” MN added.

Do you think we still need black-owned banks?

Research Shows Georgia Is Tops For Businesses Owned By Black Women

May 2nd, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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The 2013 State of Women Owned Business Report, produced by American Express OPEN, shows that the number of women-owned businesses across the country has gone up 59 percent since 1997. But even more impressive, the number of female entrepreneurs launching their own businesses has more than doubled in that same time period, jumping 112 percent.

The Athens Banner-Herald takes a closer look at the trend in that state, finding that the new female lifestyle is playing role. Women are waiting longer to get married and start a family, leaving more time to launch a business when they’re younger. But women who have also raised their family and built a career are waiting to act on their entrepreneurial spirit.

“According to the study, minority women-owned businesses have gone from fewer than a million nationwide in 1997 to 2.67 million today. Almost one in three women-owned businesses is run by a minority,” the article continues. Georgia also leads in the number of businesses owned by black women. On the flip side, Alaska ranks dead last for states with women-owned businesses. A woman business owner quoted in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner says it’s because the top industries in Alaska tend to favor men, areas like mining and oil engineering.

To help promote women-owned businesses, the Small Business Association along with AMEX OPEN has just launched ChallengeHER, a national campaign to advance government contracting to women in business. According to information we received (and available here), the program will include free workshops, mentoring opportunities, and access to people who can sign off on those contracts.

The Harlem Shake-Up: New Initiative To Keep Small Black Businesses In the Iconic Neighborhood

February 27th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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AP Photo/Kathy Willens

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

For the past few years, Harlem has been experiencing  gentrification, with national chains and high-end stores opening, apartment rents rising, longtime residents moving out, and famed, culturally significant businesses such as the Lenox Lounge, Hue-Man Bookstore, and Harlem Vintage closing.

Now, according to Black Enterprise magazine, the Harlem Business Alliance  has announced that it will put a $700,000 three-year grant toward opening a Small Business Support Center. This will be in an effort to help current small business survive the changing landscape of neighborhood, which until recently was mainly African American. According to the New York Times, blacks are no longer the majority in Harlem.

And white-owned businesses are moving in. As The Network Journal reported, the jazz hot spot, The Lenox Lounge closed after the owner could no longer afford the rent. Restaurateur Richard Notar has now moved in with a new eatery. Notar is a managing partner of the popular Japanese Nobu restaurant chain.

The alliance is using a grant from the Community Economic Development Program issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and will partner with IncubateNYC. The partnership aims to offer shared office space and other business incubation services, among other things. “The center will focus on assisting local shops with the skills and tools they need to stay afloat. Emphasis will especially be placed on teaching marketing, bid preparation, payroll and other crucial operations that many business owners have little to no experience in,” reports BE.

Location, Location, Location: Black Businesses Are Thriving in These Cities

February 26th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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According to the latest stats, black businesses are booming. The number of American businesses in general have increased by 18 percent, and black-owned firms have expanded by 60.5 percent to 1.9 million between 2002 to 2007, more than triple the national rate according to U.S. Census data, reports the Examiner.

According to the government definition, a black-owned business is a firm with African-American owners holding a 51 percent or greater stake in the business. All of the black businesses in the U.S. accrued $137 billion in sales and receipts, and comprised 7.1 percent of businesses nationwide in 2007, compared to only 5.2 percent in 2002. Most black businesses are small. According to National Urban League president, Marc Morial, and data from Survey of Business Owners: Black-Owned Businesses, 87 percent of all black-owned firms earn less than $50,000 a year in receipts.

Certain industries are heavily saturated with black owners, such as health care and social assistance (19 percent of black-owned businesses), repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services (another 19 percent of black-owned businesses), and administrative and support, waste management, and remediation service industries, which comprise 11 percent of black-owned businesses, according to Examiner.

And there are various cities and states where black business thrive.

As of 2007, the four cities with the most black-owned businesses are: New York City (154,929); Chicago (58,631); Houston (33,062); and Detroit (32,490).

Detroit has the highest percentage of African-American-owned businesses within the city’s limits at 64 percent.

The three states with the most black-owned businesses, as of 2007, are: New York (204,032); Georgia (183,874); and Florida (181,437),

A Sound Business: Black-Owned Beverly Hills Jazz Club Hits High Note

January 28th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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A new African-American-owned Beverly Hills jazz club is making some noise. H.O.M.E. (House of Music & Entertainment), one of the few black-owned jazz clubs around, is becoming a hot spot in Los Angeles.

Owned by aspiring drummer Dennis “D. Anthony” Robertson, H.O.M.E. opened only weeks ago, in November. Robertson, who got his start promoting acts at B.B. King’s at Universal Studios before delving into management, aims to make H.O.M.E. (which has the cool website the premier venue for jazz in Los Angeles.


Inside H.O.M.E. via

Located just a block from tony Rodeo Drive, H.O.M.E. is in the heart of Beverly Hills. The venue has 250-plus seats, and so far it’s holding its own against competitors such as the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood and Herb and Eden Alpert’s Vibrato in Bel Air.

Robertson takes the music seriously. He has some of the best sound engineers in town working full time at the club. “The club recently acquired a Yamaha Concert series piano, which is more than seven feet long and rivals any found around here,” according to L.A Weekly.

He has been able to attract a consistent clientele not only because of the music and location but also the food. Robertson describes his approach as “combination of an intimate concert setting and true fine dining,” which, he tells the newspaper, L.A. lacks. Robertson lured in a noteworthy chef, Shawn Davis, to design the menu, which includes entrees like caviar-chive salmon and rack of lamb.

H.O.M.E. offers a weekday jazz lunch (with solo piano) and is planning a Sunday afternoon “Jazz Mystery Theater” with music and audience participation.

If you check it out, let us know what you think.