Hi there–Sharalle here–the newbie at Affinity Mentoring. I am thrilled to come alongside the team as Executive Director; with a goal to engage the community in a way that impacts lives, plants legacy, and develops leaders. Affinity’s mission is that it’s alive and moving. The piece that jumps out to me this month is the “equitable growth.”
Living in West Michigan doesn’t always present opportunities for equity. Individuals face nepotism, minority-populated communities are under-resourced and underexposed, and families often face being overlooked. Imagine being an independent, Black-owned business in a sea of familiar and familial supported brands. It is said that there are 600 millionaires in Kent County–many having family names or family businesses. Wealth is distributed amongst the majority; while minorities continue to be the wealthy’s biggest consumers. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with being wealthy—stay with me while I make a point. Black and minority-owned businesses make up less than 1% of Grand Rapids economic make up (with 184 minority-owned businesses in Grand Rapids). These businesses compete against brands that are family names, favored brands, and companies that are accessible through store-fronts, word-of-mouth, or costly advertisements. There is limited wealth, knowledge, acknowledgement, and even patrons as it relates to Black/minority owned businesses.
August being Black Business Month means an opportunity for Black-owned businesses to end/start their fiscal year in the black. With not just minorities purchasing from Black businesses, but people with influence, affluence, and status patronizing these companies.
I started out Black Business Month by visiting the market at A Glimpse of Africa. A Glimpse of Africa highlights the many, beautiful cultures of the African continent. This includes, but is not limited to traditional garments, dances, foods, practices, and businesses. A Glimpse of Africa supported and promoted many black businesses offering a range of products from clothes, sustenance, and accessories. It was an honor to be able to support Grand Rapids’ 1% that otherwise might not have been patronized or noticed. A full recap of my experience at A Glimpse of Africa can be found here.
Kicking Black Business Month at A Glimpse of Africa is just the start for me. A full list of my favorite local Black-owned businesses can be found here. A somewhat comprehensive list of Black and minority owned businesses can be found at grabblocal.com. I challenge you to check out a few of the businesses and support (at least) four of them. You will find high quality products, an attention to detail, and personal customer support provided with a home-style flare. If you’re new to supporting Black-owned and/or minority-owned businesses feel free to contact me for resources or connections. I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy shopping and supporting!