Group of local Black business owners form Black Business Community Empowerment Group
In June, Marteke Franks, owner of Fu Wangz, reached out to a few Black business owners with the idea of starting a group whose goal would be to empower fellow Black business owners in the community.
“I wanted to create a grant that could be given to small minority owned businesses with the hope of empowering them to keep moving forward,” Franks said in a Facebook post.
He contacted some of his friends who are also businesses owners and they were all on board without hesitation. Soon, the Black Business Community Empowerment Group was formed.
Good Afternoon FB FamilyA couple of weeks ago I reached out to a few area Minority Business Owners with the idea of…
“This group is made up of local successful minority entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in our Black community,” Franks said.
Each business owner in the group put in some money and nominated a smaller or newer Black owned business. With their first $1,000 grant, they held a drawing on June 29 and gave the money to the winner. The winner of the first drawing was The Chozyn Boutique, which just held their grand opening on Saturday.
Carlos Braxton, one of the members of the group, says what they are doing is not only important right now because of the economy due to COVID-19, but also because in general, Black business owners miss out on opportunities for economic development.
“It’s so needed at this critical moment right now that we support small businesses and also support small businesses that look like how we look,” Braxton said. “With the pandemic going on right now and all the racial injustices going on right now it’s really important that we support one another and continue to support one another in our endeavors.”
Moving forward, the group plans to give away a $1,000 grant to a local black owned business every time they reach the $1,000 mark, whether that be through donations from people outside the group and/or group members putting in some of their own money. Their goal is to do it quarterly, but it may just depend on how much money they’ve accumulated at the time.
Another member, Corey Scott, owner of On Thyme Catering, says he hopes the group brings hope to local Black business owners.
“I believe a lot of Black businesses or a lot of black people period don’t have a lot of hope with what they do,” Scott said. “I feel like this group will get everybody back on track and keep everybody in the same flow and actually see that ‘Oh these 10 black owned business are supporting these other black owned businesses’ and after that it will start a train. But I think that’s the way it’s supposed to start – by blacks supporting blacks before somebody else supports us. So if we support each other, everybody else will be like ‘Okay, we can support them too.’”
Braxton echoed on Scott’s point of the need for Black business owners to support fellow Black business owners.
“Other nationalities, other groups of people have been doing this for years, it’s how they got on top,” Braxton said. “They have dominated the space they’re in because they have invested in a strong community focusing on exclusive economic growth and wealth building. That means that as soon as you get that dollar, you go support another business in your community that looks like you.”
He added that Black people end up spending their money at businesses whose owners do not look like them.
“We spend our money where we want to spend it but most of the time those folks do not look like us and almost certainly those people aren’t contributing to our community,” Braxton said. “They’re not sponsoring our kids football team, they’re not sending their daughter to get their hair done there, they’re not buying any of your supplies.”
Braxton said he believes Black people need to be more strategic on where they spend their money making sure to support Black owned businesses to ultimately have a fair chance economically.
“What I’ve come to learn recently, especially with these corporate companies, is that they don’t really care about Black lives, but they care about Black dollars,” he said. “And if we hold them accountable by pulling our money from them then they will do what’s necessary to earn our business back. A lot of these corporate companies will come out in support of Black Lives Matter which is absolutely tremendous. We need allies in this fight. But those same corporate companies are not hiring or promoting black executives.”
The rest of the group members agree with Braxton that exclusively supporting Black owned businesses will help with justice and reform in the long run.
“It’s not about what they [non-black owned businesses and companies] are doing, it’s about what we’re going to do,” Braxton said. “And what we’re going to do is start to strategically spend our money in places and support businesses who will in turn support us.”
The group says they have been impressed by the support they have received from the community since they stared this not even a month ago and they’re excited and hopeful about what is to come.
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