This event is part of the Chamber’s new series, The Racial Wealth Gap.
2:00pm - 3:00pm
This free, members-only event is designed specifically for our small to medium-size member companies who want to expand their network of contacts, generate new business leads, and learn the most effective strategies for networking.
8:00am - 9:00am
Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
Join us for the fist in-person MITX event of the year! Come and network with people in the tech and innovation industry.
5:00pm - 8:00pm
Sam Adams Taproom
Our Boston’s Future Leaders (BFL) program provides emerging leaders with a socially conscious and civically engaged leadership toolkit, as well as the opportunity to apply their knowledge through experiential assignments.
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We are developing an ecosystem of corporations and partners with the influence and buying power to transform economic inclusion for minority business enterprises (MBEs).
City Awake empowers young professionals in a variety of ways that encourages these rising leaders to stay invested in the region’s future success.
BIMA (the Boston Interactive Media Association) serves a vibrant community of like-minded professionals from agencies, brands, publishers, and ad-tech companies with business interests in the New England market.
For more than 25 years, the Chamber’s Women’s Network has connected female professionals of all background and career levels. Today, our Women’s Network is the largest in New England, strengthening the professional networks of women each year.
Through MITX (the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange), we’re building valuable connections between the people and ideas behind technology and its impact on the future of customer experiences, all to create a community that’s finding tomorrow’s solutions together.
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I was born and raised in Boston, I received my bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctorate degree from Suffolk University in Boston, and I have been an entrepreneur in Boston for over 25 years. Personally, I know and have witnessed the heavy challenges that come with being a Black person and business owner in Boston; the challenges and inequities are an enormous reality.
Black businesses are still lacking in access, startup capital, funding, credit, revenue, and Black businesses are denied equal access to contracting by those with power. Data tells us that the Black businesses in Boston have less of everything needed to thrive, compared to their counterpart; we know this, and we’ve known this for quite some time.
Growing up in the Mattapan area of Boston, the few Black-owned businesses in my neighborhood inspired me, it was exciting to see representation and others that looked like me operating their businesses. However, those Black owned businesses closed quickly -here one day and gone the next. At an early age, seeing this affected me deeply, I would wonder why the Black-owned businesses that I knew were necessary in my neighborhood, just could not keep their doors open. Being a young girl in the City of Boston, I did not understand that lack of capital, debt and systemic racism caused the Black-owned businesses to close.
Fast forward decades later, and Black-owned businesses STILL struggle because of inequities and undercapitalization. Black businesses had issues pre covid and those issues have grown, compounded, and worsened. The pandemic has caused Black business owners to face added challenges, many have closed already and a lot more will follow. The pandemic unveils and brings light, once again, to the racial inequities and the undercapitalization of businesses owned by Black people. Studies show that minority vendors in Boston continue to receive less than 10% of city contracts – I ask you, where is the equity here?
For Boston’s Black-owned businesses to be successful, systemic barriers have to be eliminated and resources must be distributed equitably. If you think of the Boston Black-owned businesses that you know personally, that are truly thriving and profiting, it is more than likely the same Black businesses that you always see and hear about. The fact that we can still count them on one or two hands, is a sad truth. Supporting Black-owned business closes the racial wealth gap, diversifies the economy, and allows for Black representation in the marketplace; these things are life changing and very important in the present and for the future.
We know entrepreneurs are the backbone of the economy. It is entrepreneurs that create products and services that solve problems in innovative ways. Black entrepreneurs play a vital role, driving innovation and creating jobs.
When I think of trailblazing Black entrepreneurs in Boston’s history, those that laid a foundation decades ago and moved the needle in the City of Boston, I think of people like Darryl Settles, Thelma Sullivan and Colette Phillips; three prominent individuals that always used their voices, demanded to be heard and reached back as mentors. I also think about trailblazing Black media platforms in Boston, such as The Banner, Black Pages, and About Black Boston by William Murrell. Today, I’m inspired and hopeful by Black Market Nubian, The Dinner Group, GetKonnected, BECMA, and allies such as the Boston Chamber and other organizations that collectively put forth effort to advance Black business in Boston.
When I started The Maven Conference 10 years ago, I convened the first gathering at Black owned restaurant, Darryl’s in the South End; at that time owned by Darryl Settles and now owned by Nia Grace. Although, I had 30-40 women in attendance, I knew then that a support network for Black owned businesses was missing in the City of Boston, so I asked those in my network to join me at the table. The table has turned into a business platform that connects and adds value to thousands of businesses and people. In its 10th year, The Maven Conference has grown globally and advances Black women by providing a support system, a beneficial network, and the development necessary to thrive personally and professionally. Additionally, over the decade, we have given hundreds of small businesses a place to curate, generate revenue and build connections that last.
Black History month is good, but Black businesses need support year-round. Black entrepreneurs should be celebrated by our city and highlighted all year. Black businesses are at the bottom of the totem pole and yet, we have contributed so much to society and to the business community. By celebrating Black History, Culture and Community every day, we are taking steps to highlight positive attributes and contributions that Black people have made to our society.
An equitable future for Boston’s Black community must be inclusive and it must be just and fair. An equitable society is one in which ALL can participate and prosper. The goals of equity must be to create conditions that allow ALL to reach their full potential. In short, equity creates a path from hope to change.
The 3Cs: Capital, Contracts and Community. Equitable Access to Capital, Access to Contracts and a Supportive ecosystem community. Black business owners often fund their own businesses, due to lack of funding. Conversely, on average, White-owned businesses launch with about three times more financial capital than Black-owned businesses. The lack of capital makes it impossible for Black-owned businesses to manage debt, which comes along with being a business; even though white-owned businesses take on more debt.
The lack of capital makes it impossible for Black-owned businesses to manage debt, which comes along with being a business; even though white owned businesses take on more debt.