The Center for Business Innovation Says “Capitalize Black Business”

Anyone who says there are no Black organizations looking out for the wellbeing of Black-owned businesses needs to look again.

Established in 2013 as Code Fever Miami, which built on the founders’ Black Tech Miami Initiative, and rebranded this year with its current name, the Center for Black Innovation (CFBI) prides itself on being a think tank for leaders and entrepreneurs of color. In a year bereft of the clarity many business owners of color sought, it offered vision and creative prosperity roadmaps as the New Year dawns.

Earlier this month, the Miami-based organization held what it billed as the “2020 Capitalize Black Summit” a two-day virtual event to prepare business owners “to adapt to the curveballs ahead and gain an edge over their competition.” More than 450 owners and change-makers gathered to hear and share insights into self-care, including mental health; the use of mindfulness tools and resources; structuring business plans; fundraising; and community development.

“Black businesses should never believe things are impossible, that they cannot work with big companies, and that there isn’t money to support. That’s simply not true,” insisted Felecia Hatcher, CFBI co-founder and executive director, as she addressed summit attendees. Her eyes sparkling with passion behind Tom Ford glasses frames, she seemed to laser on each attendee.

The summit was sponsored by the likes of AT&T, Comcast NBC Universal, and Surdna Foundation. It opened with a panel discussion led by CFBI’s senior executive team and continued with presentations by “influencers” bearing such titles as cultural strategist, podcast host, spiritual coach, and venture catalyst.

“As you prepare for 2021, there are four MAJOR elements you should be concerned about: what did you do really well this year; what are some elements you should change or keep for 2021; what type of clients do you want in 2021 — are you going to level up and go bigger; what types of new and innovative products will you introduce in 2021,” organizers counseled prior to the event.

Hatcher agreed to a Zoom interview with The Network Journal to discuss the motivation behind the Capitalize Black Summit. Asked how black businesses fared in 2020, she did not sugarcoat her response.

“Not well!” she declared. “Studies show 40 percent of Black businesses have closed and may not reopen. That’s absolutely devastating. We thought we had work to do prior to [the global Covid-19 pandemic]. Things are far worst now.”

She pointed to a silver lining, however. “On the flip side, with disruption comes opportunity. We’ve seen really innovative Black companies pop up as a result this year.”

Attendees at the Capitalize Black Summit can attest to the huge amount of attention rightly devoted to the pandemic. Businesses and businesspersons alike are well aware not only of the pandemic’s current impact, but also of its potentially lasting effect on their businesses.

Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” It’s a sentiment not wasted on CFBI, which launched the Covid-19 Side Hustle Academy in March.

The initiative trained 600 people to create a side hustle during this tumultuous year. Such small but innovative enterprises could be the beginning of someone’s live-happily-ever-after Cinderella story — the melanin edition, if you will.

The 2020 Capitalize Black Summit event certainly lived up to its name and promise. It was curated to a tee to “capitalize Black people; capitalize our businesses, our culture, self-care and wellness.”

Many will be looking for positive results from the summit, as well as looking forward to CFBI’s ongoing efforts to shape a prosperous future for Black businesses.

Hatcher had this ostensibly simple message for TNJ’s audience of Black professionals and business owners and the wider Black community: “Keep playing to your strength. Keep culture as an asset.”