Apr 8, 2022 - Business

West Des Moines chamber to host summit for entrepreneurs of color

Pitch finalists with the Black and Brown Summit
The pitch finalists and judges from the 2021 Black & Brown Summit. Photo courtesy of West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce

The West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce is hosting a summit this month aimed at helping people of color who want to start a business or expand their existing operation.

Driving the news: The Black & Brown Business Summit, which launched in 2021, offers business training and mentorship to people of color.

  • This year's event runs April 21-22, and includes a pitch competition, as well as sessions that cover everything from marketing to scaling a business.

Why it matters: People of color face disproportionate hardships when it comes to opening new businesses.

  • Iowa has also consistently ranked in the bottom half of the U.S. for its number of Black business owners in comparison to its population.

State of play: There's been a national rise in new, Black-owned businesses since 2020 and the West Des Moines chamber also reports growing interest here locally, said Baillee Furst of the chamber.

Yes, but: People of color face a number of challenges in starting new businesses, said Angela Jackson, a Black business owner in West Des Moines who chairs the summit.

  • Struggles include financing from banks, starting with little capital and having a smaller social network to lean on in comparison to white Iowans, Jackson said.

The bottom line: As new entrepreneurs start up their businesses, the hope is the summit will teach them how to sustain their businesses and be able to pass it down in years to come, Jackson said.

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