On the heels of Black Enterprise’s return to Charlotte, more than 60 Black women business owners ramped up an entrepreneurs’ meetup of their own.
It was standing room only for the State of Black Women Entrepreneurs in CLT town hall, held Monday night at Dupp & Swat in Camp North End. The businesswomen — and a handful of men — in industries ranging from hospitality to technology, gathered to discuss various barriers to entrepreneurial expansion facing Black-owned businesses in Charlotte. The plan was to walk away with solutions.
Following a recent article highlighting experiences of Black women entrepreneurs who have left Charlotte — or are considering leaving — new energy was breathed into the conversation surrounding how to retain, and support, women entrepreneurs of color. With the renewed energy comes hopes for more collaboration.
A 2017 disparity study commissioned by the city of Charlotte examined data to assess whether minority‐owned businesses in Charlotte earn as much as businesses owned by their white counterparts. According to the study, on average, revenue for Black-owned businesses totaled $60,000 annually compared to $487,000 for their white counterparts.
Davita Galloway, co-founder of Dupp & Swat and one of the event organizers, announced to the packed room that “there is enough money out there for all of us. It’s time we boost those in our community up [so] we all get a seat at the table, which means we all get fed.”
While Charlotte has been touted as a blossoming city eager to work with and support Black entrepreneurship, some business owners of color say they’ve struggled when it came to finding adequate capital and other resources needed to thrive. However, women sprinkled throughout the audience stood up to say that resources do exist and shared insights on how to access them. For example, Natalie Williams, executive director of the Women’s Business Center of Charlotte, referenced services offered by her organization and talked about the importance of building good credit in relation to gaining access to business loans. Amplify Charlotte founder Christine Edwards shared the tip for Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprises (MWSBE) to become certified as a Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) to better position themselves to win government contracts.
“I was excited that the conversation was happening,” said native Charlottean Tiffany Fant, a full-time entrepreneur who owns Qwantum Consulting. “Although it didn’t speak directly to the article, the conversation was almost contrary because it showed women who had found success in Charlotte. I loved all the Black Girl Magic in the room. We didn’t all have to agree, but we were allowed to all speak to our own experiences.”
The meeting served to spark longer-term solutions to bolstering the success of new and longtime business owners. It was the first gathering of Black Women Entrepreneurs in CLT, but it won’t be the last. Organizers had to table the two-hour discussion with promises of another round.
“No one is out here by herself, and we want people to know there are safe places to come for help, support and [to] collaborate,” said the event’s co-organizer Melody Gross. “Charlotte has the ability to provide that for our women, and we need to expect more and expect better of each other.”
Managing Editor Katrina Louis contributed to this article.