Wilmington entrepreneurs launch list highlighting black businesses
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Genesis Block has announced the launch of the Black Enterprise Listing.
The business, which aims to empower entrepreneurs and support small businesses in Wilmington’s downtown, is working to get a website and a mobile app up and running that highlights the city’s black-owned businesses. The founders expect the interactive, user-friendly platform to be up and running this summer.
“We’re a community collaborative. With all the events that are going on in the world, we think its important to be in the process of starting solutions,” said co-founder Girard Newkirk.
“That’s what we want to be as Genesis Block, that solution to come together as a community to create those solutions together,” said co-founder Tracey Newkirk. “Our desire is to help businesses start, grow and scale. As we get to know more African American businesses in our community the more we can help them get to the next level.”
In the past weeks, people across the country have put calls out in their communities to aggregate lists of local black businesses to support. While a handful of businesses are listed on the website for the Chamber of Commerce’s African American Business Council, the council’s founder and chair, Tracey Newkirk, and her husband, Girard Newkirk, saw an opportunity to create a more in-depth list.
Tracey Newkirk says the African American Business Council frequently gets questions about a listing for black businesses. That’s why she and her husband decided they were going to work together to bring the community the directory.
“There’s an old saying ’without prosperity there is no peace,’" said Girard Newkirk. "Supporting black businesses supports a level of advocacy because a lot of the things we have going on here in the Cape Fear region, the root causes are in economic disparity. So starting with the fundamental support of black businesses provides a foundation for us to build even more solutions,” said Girard Newkirk.
The couple says black-owned businesses have historically struggled with lack of visibility and lack of accessibility, but they hope their new project will connect the community to area entrepreneurs.
“The Black Enterprise Listing came about based off of a fundamental economic concept. The GDP, or the black purchasing power in the country, is $1.25 trillion and only 2 percent, or two cents of every dollar, $2.4 billion is spent with black owned businesses. So we feel there’s a massive gap and a massive opportunity," said Girard Newkirk.
Their goal is to have 1,000 black businesses in their directory when it launches. So far, they say they’ve been floored by the response from the community.
“It shows the community is engaged and involved and wants to participate and help. I think that’s the much bigger story. We’ve seen so much strife and dis-connectivity, so many polarizing elements. Its so great to see the story that’s happening here with the Black Enterprise Listing. Everyone is dropping that and moving toward the solution," said Girard Newkirk.
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