Power of black-owned businesses showcased by Madison Black Chamber

A focus on producing actionable programming and services to strengthen the development of local entrepreneurs is guiding the organization in 2019, as well as its 2nd annual Black Business Awards next month.

Black-owned businesses have increased at a rapid rate over the past decade. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that as of 2012 there were 2.6 million black-owned firms in the United States, generating $187.6 billion annually and creating more than 1 million jobs.

Locally, the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce has seen its own share of growth, going from about 200 members in 2016 to the 334 businesses currently listed online in its Black Business Directory.

The Madison Black Chamber is also doing its part to become a more active participant in the broader Greater Madison business community, most recently collaborating with the Latino Chamber, Fitchburg Chamber, and others to work with Madison College on building a strong workforce with educational opportunities in Dane County.

“Within our chamber we are focusing on producing actionable programming and services that are sustainable over time and will strengthen the development of our entrepreneurs,” notes Camille Carter, president of the Madison Black Chamber. “We must rely on the strengths of our partners to assist us in these efforts, thereby leveraging the best qualities of us all.”

According to Carter, collaboration is the smartest pathway to building a stronger foundation to business development and wealth creation. “We each have strengths to contribute and alone our chambers don’t have the complete organizational capacity to teach, promote, and advocate all of the skillsets necessary to develop strong business foundations for tomorrow’s economy. This network of connectedness is key to cultivating strong linkages along that journey.”

Growth mindset

Carter says 2018 was an extraordinary year for growth for the Madison Black Chamber, which expanded its board of directors, as well as its programming trajectory.

“We also continued to strengthen Madison Black Restaurant Week, by adding more black-owned restaurants and caterers, and adding an app that offered delivery services within selected servicing areas,” Carter notes. “We envision another successful year.

“It’s one of our goals as a chamber to offer our members services that will continue to help them grow as professionals,” she continues. “To do this, our chamber continues to expand many of our business classes offered in partnership with WWBIC. These are focused on social media marketing and internet business development. We also have our own independent seminars and have launched our business luncheon series, Level Up. This is a monthly series of business seminars covering many topics from credit restoration and accounting principals to merchant services. Additionally, we provide workshops on networking and business planning.”

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The new year offers continued opportunities for growth, as Carter notes the Chamber is planning an expansion of its programming to include an Entrepreneurial Development Curriculum and Incubator. “We are really looking forward to this addition this year and, of course, we’ll continue to offer our existing programs.”

Harnessing the power of black businesses

As the theme for the 2nd annual Black Business Awards Dinner, harnessing the power of black businesses is the focus of the Feb. 21 event, which will take place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. in the Atrium at Madison College.

In addition to the awards ceremony and a formal dinner, attendees will have the opportunity to network with the local business community and hear from featured speakers, including Mandela Barnes, Wisconsin’s new lieutenant governor, and Ugo Nwagbaraocha, president of Diamond Discs International, a Milwaukee-based construction equipment supplier. Syovata Edari, owner of CocoVaa Chocolatier in Madison, is also tentatively scheduled to speak.

“We will highlight even more strong, successful black businesses and include an exhibit to showcase them,” notes Carter. “We are very proud of our speaker lineup this year. We chose them due to their exemplary nature and demonstrated character, much like what we see in our members.

“We look forward to continuing to improve our workforce development,” Carter adds. “As entrepreneurs and business professionals, the need for education and the eagerness to always learn is something our Chamber values deeply.”

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