August is Black Business Month. The latest census data shows that nationally there are $3.12 million Black-owned businesses U.S., generating $206 billion in annual revenue and supporting 3.56 million U.S. jobs. I have curated a list of both national and local Minnesota businesses, and I am a proud customer of several.
National Black-Owned Businesses
Gorgeous gold jewelry—anklets, bracelets, cuffs, earrings, necklaces and rings. I’m partial to Gwen’s earrings and necklaces. I especially love the many different styles of hoop earrings. Made for every day, but can be worn for any occasion. Founder Gwen Beloti is a Brooklyn, New York native who built her brand on her love of fashion. I am also a member of the Golden Stories Jewel Box program. Every quarter I receive a box of jewelry based on my preferences. It’s like Christmas four times a year.
Founders of The Black Bread Company, Charles Alexander, Mark Edmond and Jamel Lewis are all best friends from the southside of Chicago. They launched the first Black-owned sliced bread company in the world. Its mission is to demonstrate the power of individual contributions to improve the world, one great idea at a time. I first heard about The Black Bread Company when I had the opportunity to invest in the company through a crowdfunding campaign hosted by Start Engine. They just announced they have reached over $800,000 in funding, which is so exciting.
In 2005, sisters Robin and Andrea, who were unaware of the other’s existence, found each other through the wish of their dying father. They met in California, fueled by a shared passion for all things wine, wine-making and a desire to shake up the industry with a blend of old-world elegance and new-world finesse. Today, McBride Sisters Wine has grown into what is not only the largest Black-owned wine company in the United States, but one of the most inclusive, accessible, socially aware and sustainable. I love their wines and have participated in several of their book club events, which highlight books by Black women authors.
OneUnited Bank is the largest African-American-owned bank in the United States. A Massachusetts state-chartered trust company, OneUnited Bank headquarters are in Boston, and it has offices in Los Angeles and Miami. OneUnited Bank is certified as a community development financial institution by the U.S. Department of Treasury and has been awarded 10 times for its commitment to community development lending. Founded in 1968, OneUnited is led by Chairman and CEO Kevin Cohee, and President and COO Teri Williams.
Minnesota Black-Owned Businesses
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! St. Paul-based 2 Scoops is a family-owned business that serves over 18 flavors of ice cream and homemade waffle cones.
Mariaha Dean launched Eden Resources Construction Management Services in 2009. She co-owns the company with her husband, Korey. The company is committed to providing economical, environmental and socially responsible solutions through a structured, yet collaborative building process among AEOC (architectural, engineer, owner, contractor or community) teams. A 100 percents minority owned professional technical services firm, Eden Resources provides services to commercial and governmental clients.
The first Black-owned bank in Minnesota, Detroit-based First Independence Bank opened a Minneapolis branch in January 2022. Its mission is to offer capital accumulation for both individuals and businesses, with a focus on providing financial services to minority and underserved communities. Chairman andCEO Kenneth Kelly was recently appointed to the Federal Reserve Bank’s Seventh District Community Depository Institution Advisory Council (CDIAC). The bank celebrated 50 years of business in 2020.
Planting People Growing Justice (PPGJ) publishes and promotes books that encourage and empower children to find joy in reading. Founded by Dr. Artika Tyner, the mission of this Black woman-owned children’s book publisher and social enterprise is to increase diversity in books and promote youth leadership development. The PPGJ bookstore and press also offers books for adults such as “Ol’ Jim Crow’s Jubilee Day Caper.” Other personal favorites include: “Justice Makes a Difference,” “Amazing Africa: A to Z” and “Kofi Loves Music” PPGJ’s goal is to publish up to six books a year.
I have been donating to KIVA for over 10 years. The organization provides microloans for small businesses around the globe. Early on, I decided to focus my loans on the United States, funding predominantly businesses owned by women of color. Applicants go through an application process and share how a loan will be spent. Additionally, some loans are matched by large organizations. KIVA provides a way to contribute on a smaller scale (loans start at $25) and help these businesses grow and thrive.
I am proud to support wonderful Black-owned businesses, not just during the month of August, but all year long.
Photo: The Black Bread Company