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Pitch Black 2024: Mighty Bright Spots Amid Ongoing Setbacks

Pitch Black 2024 #pitchblackpdx Black entrepreneur competition awards

February is Black History Month – History Matters Always!

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending Pitch Black 2024 in Portland. The annual event was founded by Stephen Green in response to statistics showing that year over year, decade over decade, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) founders have been consistently underfunded. The Event, now in several cities, sells out every year and creates a fun way to provide access to money and exposure to BIPOC-owned companies. These companies are groundbreaking, founded by people creating solutions to real community issues.

(I’ve only missed one #PitchBlackPDX event because it was sold out – I learned my lesson- I was not about to miss Pitch Black 2024!)

PitchBlack spotlights entrepreneurs with companies or new ideas who pitch those concepts to an audience. Organizer Stephen Green previously said the event that started in 2015 is as much of a pitch event as it is an entertainment one.

“(This) is the opportunity for a community to show out and reframe what it is to be a Black business. People get in the room and have no idea the breadth of different things Black businesses are doing. Whether they (go on to) make billions, that isn’t what this event is about,” Green previously said.

Portland Business Journal
White Black wealth gap disparities

Stephen and many advocates rally support and make the issues known to state and local government decision-makers. And yet many BIPOC people are still behind. What Would It Take To Close America’s Black-White Wealth Gap? is a recent article showing there’s a long way to go.

Pitch Black and research shows that Black-owned businesses can thrive and contribute to the community and to their generational wealth. The data is out there. And yet things are slow to change, in some cases, including real estate, wealth building for Black people is even going backward. * The Color of Law is an incredible book in this regard, by Richard Rothstein. Why is progress so slow, the history of these disparities is long. Together we can do better

Call to Action – How can we help?

Black entrepreneurs are three times as likely as white entrepreneurs to say that a lack of access to capital negatively affects their businesses’ profitability and almost twice as likely to cite the cost of capital.

McKinsey – Building supportive ecosystems for Black-Owned US Businesses

There are many ways that we can help, both as individuals and as companies:

  1. Choose where we spend money – There are directories for Black, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA-owned businesses in my local area, search for some in the cities close to you.
  2. Shopping local – This is a good way to keep money in the community. Stephen Green has a TEDxPDX talk on this called Cheat More!
  3. Hire BIPOC contractors – When searching for contractors, be intentional to look for BIPOC contractors, and ask for referrals.
  4. Improve the equity landscape in your company – I recommend starting with this TIME article: 9 Things Corporations Should Do To Address Racial Inequality.
  5. Keep Learning – I recommend the book *Micro Activism by Omkari Williams (featured in this newsletter of Feb 2024).
  6. Connect on Social MediaPush Black is a great resource for learning history and taking action too, with daily, short educational posts on Messenger.

The more we know, the more we can look for ways to advocate for, and contribute to making change. Without improving equity and access, capital and legislation, communities will continue to suffer.

The Portland Business Journal has written about the lack of Black, BIPOC business funding year after year. And these issues are not unique to Portland. Awareness can bring us all to action.

What will you do?

Advocacy and activism are good places to start. Focus your money and support. Look for and create bright spots like Pitch Black!

Thank you for reading, please share your thoughts and ideas.

With respect and gratitude,

Kim.

Mighty Epiphyte Consulting is a full-service Benefit Company consulting firm along the Impacts Continuum, coaching for all social enterprise companies. And we’ll help with certifications and benefit report writing! advocate@mightyepiphyte.com #mightyadvocate Mighty Epiphyte Consulting is an Equity Centered Practice. *affiliate link to bookshop.org

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