During the month of February, TheWMarketplace has been celebrating Black History Month by featuring our female Black-owned business leaders in the Her Story Blog. Their stories illustrate what the business data reveals: that the entrepreneurial spirit is particularly strong among Black women. According to Forbes, Black women-owned businesses grew 50 percent between 2014-2019, the highest of any female demographic, and that Black women represent 42 percent of new female-led businesses.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has hit businesses in the entrepreneurial stage particularly hard. Those businesses with outside funding are better able to weather the downturn, and it has been more difficult for Black-owned business to attract venture capital and corporate grants. However, the good news is that businesses with a strong online presence have fared better, which is one of the driving motivations behind TheWMarketplace. It’s a platform where women can launch or grow a business, find resources to help them succeed and meet other women entrepreneurs and business owners.
The 2018 State of Women-Owned Business Report states that Black women are 4.5 times more likely to start a business than other women, citing their creativity, adaptability and willingness to take risks. These attributes are immediately recognizable in the stories of Corinne Joachim Sanon Symietz, Erkkie Harris Wells, Akilah Jackson, Tracy Kearse and Shevondalyn Robinson, all sellers on The WMarketplace. We’d add a couple more qualities: a desire to follow personal passions and wanting to find ways to give back to community. Here’s how their businesses are up for the challenge.
Corinne Joachim Sanon Symietz: Giving Back to Her Community, Empowering Women
Corinne is an industrial engineer turned chocolatier. She spent years honing her skills in the corporate business world in the US, but her heart was in Haiti where she grew up. She wanted to ensure that more girls could have access to a good education like she did. She created Askanya Chocoloates in order to provide direct revenue for farmers, create steady and livable-wage blue collar jobs for women, and generate jobs outside the capitol city. Now Askanya Chocolates is the first and only premier bean-to-bar chocolate company in Haiti. Read more about Corinne.
Erkkie Harris Wells: Identifying an Unmet Need, Working Hard
Erkkie is the founder and owner of a hair clinic that identifies and treats the cause of hair loss and scalp disorders. She saw the need for more trichologists in the hair industry and set out to become as educated as she could, including specialized training in London. Believing that everyone should feel confident and beautiful, Erkkie worked with all types of hair and as a consultant for many years before she opened her own business, Miyohara International Trichology Clinic, where she has a direct impact every day on helping women. Read more about Erkkie.
Akilah Jackson: Pandemic Creativity Generates New Product
Akilah Jackson likes to wear many hats. She’s a techie, with a Master’s degree in software engineering, and she’s also a creative entrepreneur, who works with people through her consulting company to find their intrinsic motivation and personal wellness. Akilah used the early days of the pandemic to kick-start a new endeavor, Sunsum Intention Candles, which seems the perfect antidote to some of the pandemic’s woes and personal hardship and is an excellent complement to her consulting work. Read more about Akilah.
Tracy Kearse: Seizing an Opportunity
For 17 years, Tracy has worked as a product developer in the beauty industry. Armed with a degree in chemical engineering and a passion for health and wellness, it’s a good fit. She wasn’t actively looking to start her own business, but when two people sought her out to create a high quality skin and scalp product, she grabbed the opportunity and used all of her knowledge and passion in creating a bioactive dry oil. Now she produces and sells it through her own company, AcARRE, and works to leverage her online presence with outreach to new customers. Read more about Tracy.
Shevondalyn Robinson: Passion Project as a Way to Generate Additional Income
Shevondalyn enjoyed browsing antique stores and looking for interesting and unusual items, but it wasn’t until she was looking for a way to supplement her income, that she realized that she could sell antiques herself. She did her own research to become knowledgeable and sought out advice on appraisal to grow and expand her business. Like many entrepreneurs, her success is dependent upon the time, effort and personal funds she puts into her company and the lack of financial resources is one obstacle she has yet to overcome. But Shevondalyn refuses to let in deter her pursuit, and is growing her online presence and seizing opportunity wherever she can through her company, Delightful Discoveries by SnS. Read more about Shevondalyn.
We encourage you to get inspired by these and other amazing women at TheWMarketplace by reading the Her Story Blog.