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WHY ‘SERVING BLACK’ ISN’T A DRAWBACK FOR BLACK ENTREPRENEURS

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With black buying power set to surpass the trillion-dollar mark by 2021, black consumer magic is becoming more than a phenom. However, for some black entrepreneurs, being known for catering to a solely African American customer can have a few stigmas attached. Typical negative stereotypes about black businesses have even led some founders to hide the fact that their businesses are black-owned, and some entrepreneurs see the label as limiting in terms of attracting new business, diverse customers, lucrative opportunities, and increased revenue.

“I think there’s a huge misconception that targeting black people is going to result in a small business that can’t reach the million-dollar mark, and that’s not the case at all,” says Amber Williams, a former marketing professional and founder of PunkyFlair. Williams has been successful at helping black-owned brands like Heat Free Hair find immense success by effectively incorporating authentic storytelling that includes being proud of serving black consumers.

Black Enterprise caught up with Williams to talk more about the benefits of black businesses leveraging an authentic brand story and why it’s a good idea to cater to your own community with no shame.

Why is it important for entrepreneurs to embrace being black-owned, and for black consumers, how can they get past the negative misconceptions to support black enterprises?

Amber Williams: This is important to know: Just because you target one group of people doesn’t mean others won’t buy. I don’t know if you can name one high-earning black woman who doesn’t own a [designer bag], however, if you go to websites [of popular luxury brands] and you look at their ads, you can barely find a black woman or any melanin anywhere. We still buy. I always tell my clients just because you speak to who your brand is for, doesn’t mean other communities won’t buy from you.

I’m really passionate about black people putting black wealth back into our communities. To those who say, ‘Oh, I’ve had such a bad experience,’ or ‘This always happens when I buy from a black-owned company,’ I ask, what are you doing to change that? What are you doing to fix it? Are you going through the proper channels to let them know that there needs to be improvement? Are you using your talents to help change the perception? When you come across a good experience, are you writing that review or sharing on social to help debunk myths?

I work with black entrepreneurs every day who run their businesses amazingly—who have top-notch customer service and who have high integrity with their products. If more black people would promote those businesses, we could help change the narrative.

Read full story at Black Enterprise

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Black Enterprise Names Justin Barton as Vice President of Digital Strategy and Partnerships

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Industry Veteran to Reboot Digital Strategy and Expand On Strategic Partnerships

NEW YORK, July 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Black Enterprise, the premier business and financial resource for African Americans, announced today that Justin Barton has joined the company as Vice President of Digital Strategy and Partnerships, overseeing audience growth, product, social and partnerships including all contextual, native and affiliate advertising.  Prior to Black Enterprise, Barton served as Head of Digital Strategy and Analytics at Group SJR, a digital consultancy. 

Barton joins Black Enterprise which provides original and interactive content pertaining to small business, wealth building, and careers, including from expert contributors. He has experience using analytically driven strategies to grow and engage audiences and identify emerging platforms for content distribution.  As Black Enterprise looks to expand its brand digitally, grow its events business and engage with advertisers, Barton will lead the effort to increase the reach of written and video content while expanding the network to include partner sites.

“With Black Enterprise’s leadership position in reaching African American business executives and owners of companies, Justin Barton will help lead the future digital strategy & development of all BE media owned properties.  We are excited about the growth opportunities and business development skills that Justin will bring to Black Enterprise and our team, helping us to grow in size and revenue.” – Butch Graves, President & CEO.

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NEW MEDIA VENTURES INVESTS $1.5 MILLION INTO THE MOVEMENT FOR BLACK LIVES AND OTHER ORGS

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New Media Ventures (NMV), a seed fund and network of angel investors based in the Bay Area, announced that it is investing $1.5 million into 17 entrepreneurs, activists, and progressive organizations. One of the groups selected from a pool of almost 600 applicants is The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), a coalition of more than 50 organizations fighting for black political and economic power.

“New Media Ventures is proud to announce our 2019 recipients, who together, will receive our largest round of funding ever,” said Julie Menter, managing director of New Media Ventures, in a statement. “These organizations are on the frontlines of our democracy, building the tools, platforms, and systems that vulnerable communities and progressive organizers need to make our society better for all.”

M4BL describes itself as a “leader-full movement” that focuses on policy, mass engagement, electoral justice, resource generation, organizing, and base building. The group launched in 2014 following the deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice by the hands of police to ultimately dismantle systemic oppression and achieve black liberation. Funding for the group will be allocated toward the M4BL app, which will “politically mobilize millions, build the leadership of thousands, and move folks from online activism to organizing safely in their communities, so that black political power is a force able to influence national and local agendas in the direction of a shared vision,” reads a statement on the New Media Ventures website.

According to a recent press release, NMV received more than 500 relevant applications from progressive startups seeking funding this year, up 50% from 2018 and a massive increase over the 100 applications received in 2016. Of the applications, New Media Ventures interviewed 98 and selected 33 finalists before finalizing 17 recipients.

“We have evaluated thousands of startups over the last decade, giving us a unique perspective on drivers of success in the field. We’re looking for the right mix of vision, persistence, and execution ability,” said the New Media Ventures Investment team.

Other 2019 recipients include Sunrise Movement, a group of young people working to make climate change an urgent priority in the U.S., and PeoplesHub, a progressive online platform that connects people to the support, analysis, stories, and skills they need to make positive change within their communities and in the world.

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Zion signs sneaker deal with Jordan Brand

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