Prior to the pandemic, Black business growth was on an upward trend. From 2017 to 2020, the number of Black-owned businesses across the country increased by 13.64%—more than ten times larger than all businesses in general.
Black businesses in Los Angeles have resumed the pre-covid growth trajectory with technical assistance and support from the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce’s Business Evolution Program.
Starting in 2006, GLAAACC BEP mentored one promising business each year. Each mentee received one-on-on training from corporate professionals enabling them to grow their capacity and reach the next level of business success. The business shift brought about by the global pandemic resulted in a need for more small business owners and entrepreneurs to pivot their operations. In 2020, GLAAACC BEP responded to this business shift by expanding the program from one mentee to 13 and holding virtual classes. GLAAACC BEP cohort has continued to expand each year.
In June, 28 graduates walked across the stage after successfully completing GLAAACC BEP’s rigorous eight-month curriculum which included modules on financial management, business development, access to capital, business certification and branding & marketing. The 2023 BEP graduates spanned a range of industries, from non-profits to film & media to caterers to IT and website services.
“This is BEP’s 17th year, and I am proud to say that after completing the program, many of our graduates have doubled their capacity as well as their revenue,” GLAAACC Chairman Gene Hale said. “The networking, exposure to capital, and mentorship are unlike anything out there. We call it our Black business boot camp.”
Ronda Jackson was Mistress of Ceremonies for the festivities and kept the evening running smoothly. A self-proclaimed serial “mompreneur” and former BEP mentee, Jackson operates several businesses, including a commercial interior design firm and a paint store located in East Los Angeles.
“The impact that GLAAACC BEP had on my business can’t be overstated,” Jackson told her fellow BEP graduates. “I was doing well before BEP, but after going through the course, my business has gone through the roof. I am also better prepared for whatever new business opportunities come my way.”
The graduating class of 2023 agrees that GLAAACC BEP is one of the best business boosting programs available to small businesses.
Darrell Brown is an award-winning graphic designer and artist. He retired from LAUSD in 2020 and has worked in advertising, animation, film and television. He decided to enroll in GLAAACC BEP to “learn and grow.”
For Brown, GLAAACC BEP helped him structure his business. The program’s module on accounting and setting up an accessible online portal to house certifications, capability statement, business licenses and financial statements was invaluable.
Brown has been in business nearly 20 years and said GLAAACC BEP has something to offer business owners at any cycle in their business.
“Business has changed since the pandemic. Our culture is constantly changing. Technology is changing. I think all of those elements change how you do business,” Brown said. “I think the more information and understanding of new technology you have, the better prepared you’ll be.”
Selina Thomas is the owner of Six Degrees HR Consulting which specializes in providing outsourced human resources, training and workplace investigations. Thomas has been in business for nearly a decade and said the program was “definitely a game changer.” Thomas found the GLAAACC BEP module on contract readiness and business scaling through procurement most significant.
“I’ve extended my business into municipalities training and those types of things,” Thomas said. “I just I never even knew that municipalities, contracted with people to do that.” The capabilities statement she created in GLAAACC BEP helped her land her first contract with the Boys and Girls Club.
GLAAACC BEP is sponsored by T-Mobile, Wells Fargo, SoCal Edison, U.S. Bank, Citizen’s Business Bank and SoCalGas. Registration for the 2023-2024 GLAAACC BEP open July 2023. For more information visit glaaacc.org