Pitch competition showcases and supports Black Brazos Valley entrepreneurs
The Reach Project’s 1 Million Black Businesses campaign has helped over 35 black business owners in the Brazos Valley.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) -According to recent Census data just 2.4% of U.S. businesses have Black owners, even though Black people represent 12.8% of the U.S. population. Meanwhile, 86.5% of U.S. businesses have white owners, despite white people accounting for a lower percentage — 72.0% — of the U.S. population.
The Reach Project is working to improve those numbers by connecting entrepreneurs with the resources they need to take their businesses to the next level.
The Reach Project is partnering with the 1 Million Black Businesses program (1MBB) powered by Operation Hope and Shopify, a national nonprofit whose goal is to start, grow, and scale one million black businesses by 2030. Financial services company Block, INC formally Square is also a sponsor along with local sponsors and hosts Startup Aggieland and the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University.
For the last 10 weeks, 22 business owners/ teams have been learning the ins and outs of starting and maintaining a business and learning skills in marketing, accounting, budgeting, and communications.
Sunday participants took part in a pitch competition to put their knowledge to the final test and pitch their business plans with the hope of gaining investors and winning three top cash prizes. 1st place winner Body Moore Better ($1,500), 2nd Hair with a Twist Boutique ($1,000), and 3rd Lush Lifestyle ($500)
Participants say they’re grateful for the opportunity to learn the skills to get their business off the ground even more blessed that someone is taking an interest in minority-owned businesses.
Stephen Lair says his goal is to open a youth foundation and camp where he can work with school-aged children on life skills. He says ts great knowing there’s support for businesses and groups that often get overlooked.
“This opportunity was huge so it means a lot to me,” said Stephen. “Minority businesses sometimes have it a little bit harder. It’s a little bit tougher to get those businesses started because you may not have the credit. You may be tied into a lot of people in the community that already are established and have resources.”
Some participants have established business owners that wanted an opportunity to take their business to the next level. Audrika Turner owner of Hair with a Twist in Downtown Bryan. Her goal is to expand her salon and boutique into a larger facility where she can hire additional employees.
“I’ve been in business since 2018 but I’ve been self-taught,” said Turner. “So I never you know really got the real ropes, I would call it on how to successfully run a business. Even though I’ve done well from learning on my own I took a step to get an extra push.”
Aqeelah Lair says she’s working to fulfill her destiny and calling. She became an insurance agent after a family passed away with little to no insurance coverage. Aqeelah says she wants to start her own agency so no other family goes through the same experience. It’s a goal that’s even more in reach after Sundays because of the support system she’s gained.
I have a passion to do things. I believe I was placed on this earth to do something specific,” said Aqeelah. “You can have passion without the information that you need but you’re not really going to be able to go that far if you don’t have the guidance that you need so taking this class provided me with so much guidance that I would have otherwise not had.
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