Meet Nine Black Business Starters Who are Paving the Way for Dreams
This month in the U.S. we marked Juneteenth, a day where we celebrate freedom and fight for progress. We still have a lot of work ahead of us as we fight for racial equity and economic justice, and we believe our role is to use entrepreneurship as a powerful tool to build a more equitable society.
The pandemic has taken a magnifying glass to the cracks in our society and highlighted the magnitude of inequities faced by so many.
The effects of the global pandemic on small business have been hard and suffered unevenly. We’re seeing grim reports that in the U.S., 41% of Black-owned businesses have shuttered, as have 32% of Latino-owned businesses, and 25% of Asian-owned businesses. Immigrant-owned businesses fell by 36%. Only 12% of Black business owners got PPP or EIDL loans. The pandemic has taken a magnifying glass to the cracks in our society and highlighted the magnitude of inequities faced by so many.
Within the entrepreneurship community, it has solidified one thing: we need each other. We cannot keep going within a society that doesn’t work for everyone. It is on all of us to build good things into our businesses, our communities, our lives. It is on all of us to look out for those in our communities who need our support, and to give it. A better world is possible when we build it together.
CO.STARTERS was founded with the vision to build “a path for every starter.” We intentionally use the word “starter” to expand our view of entrepreneurship and include anyone with the passion to turn their idea into reality. Our programs and tools are deeply rooted in the concept of community, and the belief that everyone needs support to succeed. More than a third of CO.STARTERS program graduates are people of color.
The heroes in this story are the tenacious founders who are unearthing opportunity for themselves, overcoming unfair obstacles, and paving the way for others as they go.
The individuals and organizations who make up the CO.STARTERS network are working hard every day to create a more equitable world from the ground up. To not just promote, but to truly create, opportunities for everyone.
Making entrepreneurial dreams real is a hard journey, made that much harder by the barriers of inequity. As community leaders and supporters work to make that path easier for starters, we recognize we are not the trailblazers. The heroes in this story are the tenacious founders who are unearthing opportunity for themselves, overcoming unfair obstacles, and paving the way for others as they go.
Meet Nine Inspiring Black Business Starters
Here are just a few stories from the thousands of people of color who have turned their dreams into reality with the help of CO.STARTERS.
Felicia Jackson, CPR Wrap
Felicia took a near-tragic event in her life and turned it in to a simple, life-saving invention that is now sold nationwide and has received growing attention amid the Black Lives Matter movement.
Will Lovelady, Stix N Smoke
Supported by theCO in Jackson, TN
Will’s interests in a cultural pastime inspired him to start the first mobile cigar lounge in Western Tennessee, providing businesses and events in his hometown a unique atmosphere for people to connect.
Javela Singleton, Gifted Hands Artisan Soap
Supported by VILLAGE LAUNCH in Greenville, SC
After being diagnosed with a devastating disease, Javela’s efforts to live a healthier lifestyle and eliminate harmful products in her own home turned into launching a business that helps women with similar health issues.
Kazim Abbot, The Academic Consulting Agency
Supported by INNOVATE SPRINGFIELD in Springfield, IL
Kazim overcame the roadblocks he experienced while getting his own college education to start a business that helps prepare and tutor students to make the most of their college experience.
Tanesha Sims-Summers & Tiffany Turner, Naughty But Nice Kettle Korn Co.
Supported by Create Birmingham in Birmingham, AL
Childhood friends Tanesha and Tiffany took a leap from running a popsicle stand as kids into starting a kettle corn company together—a venture that has positioned them as pioneers in the culinary world of Birmingham.
Jaylin “Jiggy M” Randolph, H.i.L.i.F.
Supported by OPPORTUNITY LYNCHBURG in Lynchburg, VA
Known for his innovative leadership in his community, Jaylin (aka rapper and entertainer “Jiggy M”) started a production company to help brands reach kids through creativity and fun while promoting unity and positivity.