My name is Danielle Douglas. I am President of Inspire Enterprise and Founder of Inspire Enterprise’s Black Business Owners Forum: “Primed 4 Success” (BBOF2020) one day virtual event. Inspire Enterprise is a boutique business advisory firm focused on building the capacity of small business owners to have greater impact on their customers, family, employees, and community.
As I’m sure most everyone can understand, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed a major wave of uncertainty which caused my work to come to a sudden halt. As we began to regain our footing and familiarize ourselves with this new landscape, the tragic death of George Floyd caused us to once again stop in our tracks. The intersection of these two events forced me to ask a critical question; What will it take for me, and others like me, to successfully pivot our businesses and ultimately reach a higher ground?
Now more than ever MWBE (Minority and Women owned Business Enterprises) need assistance fighting for the equality and justice they deserve. The disparities in contract opportunities for small businesses is astounding; currently, less than 2% of all contracts are awarded to black businesses. As a result, there has been a renewed interest in the plight of black businesses who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Thus, the answer to “what will it take to successfully pivot?” came in the form of creating the BBOF2020 one day virtual event. The objective of the event was to connect Black Business Enterprises to resources, one another, and contract opportunities. Our sessions included:
- How to Competitively Bid on a RFP and Still Make a Profit
- The Power of Joint Venturing
- How to Determine Working Capital Needs to Fulfill a Contract
- The Equitable Procurement Leadership Panel that was powered and moderated by Interise
Since the event we have been privy to the ways that our attendees have been networking and building relationships amongst one another, accessing alternative financing, and utilizing the resources provided to learn what they need to grow their business.
BBOF 2020 was a great success; however, our work is far from done. We need to continue fighting the plight of black businesses and do so by having tangible impact. With that goal in mind, I founded ‘The Council of Black Business Enterprises’ (CBBE) with the purpose of advancing black businesses through results driven agents of change. We aim to break down barriers, build partnerships, and make connections to capacity building resources, contract opportunities and capital.
I am just one small black business owner who felt the overwhelming need to empower both myself and other black business owners as well. As Jim Holmes once said, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up” and I couldn’t agree more.