Local business market highlights minority business resiliency

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) – In 2020, The National Bureau of Economic Research reported that 41 percent of Black-owned businesses declined. Now, 56 percent of minority business owners said they were more optimistic as the economy works to recover during the pandemic, according to McKinsey and Company.

That optimism was showcased in the Brazos Vallet at the Ujamaa Market Place organized by Culturally Rooted Enterprise. The event was held at the Lincoln Recreation Center and comprised of various vendors including food, clothing and home essentials.

“It’s good to see Black people and people that look like me and my daughter and my family just to rise up and be able to do things during the pandemic and see that it’s not holding anybody back,” Culturally Rooted Enterprise co-founder Cedric Lewis said.

Michelle Jerkins is the owner of Mimi’s Accessories & More. She started her jewelry business during the pandemic as a way to give handmade sentiments to people involved in Black Lives Matter protests. Jerkins said she was always hopeful in her business.

“Other businesses are doing it no matter what’s going on,” Jerkins said. “I can do it.”

Another motivating factor for Jerkins was her community. She said she wanted to be a role model and a symbol of hope for future generations.

“In order for us to raise a good next generation, we the generation now have to show them how it’s done. So if we want them to see something positive, we have to present something positive,” Jerkins said.

For Aisha Davenport-Amos, her family was her motivating factor. Davenport-Amos is the owner of The Iridescent Peacock Custom Gifts & T-Shirt Boutique. She started her business just before the country went into lockdown. Although Davenport-Amos was disappointed that events and other opportunities were canceled due to the pandemic, she knew she couldn’t give up.

“They also know that mommy does it always,” Davenport-Amos said. “Mommy gets up, she goes to work, she does her side business, she makes things anytime someone calls.”

Because of resilient Black business owners like Jerkins and Davenport-Amos, Lewis hopes to expand events like the market to something more permanent.

“What we hope that comes out of this is putting everything in a storefront and people being able to showcase their business on a daily basis,” Lewis said.

To keep up with events from Culturally Rooted Enterprise, click here.

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