August celebrates many things, and one of the most important among them is Black Business Month. Across the country, black-owned businesses are on the rise. According to data gathered between 2007 and 2012, black-owned businesses grew 34.5 percent making up 9.4 percent of all organizations. However, this remains below the 13.4 percent black population rate. Local entrepreneur Nicole Triplett began her mission to support black business owners and encourage the growth of these businesses through the creation of Black Wall Street Kalamazoo three years ago.
“Observing the multitude of creativity and resiliency in our community inspired me to create an online space where Black-owned businesses could be identified, supported, encouraged, and inspired. Black Wall Street Kalamazoo intends to help close the racial wealth gap assisting entrepreneurs in establishing a foundation for generational wealth,” says Nicole.
Over the years as Black Wall Street gained traction, Nicole developed a Facebook page by adding structure in the hopes to not just showcase talents but provide support for people to develop a sustainable business out of their hobbies and generational wealth. Programs like the Black Business Expo and Black Business Bootcamp were instituted. Nicole adds, “The thing we want to do is make sure that we are allowing those dollars to circulate before they go directly outside our community.”
The term “Black Wall Street” dates back to the early 1900s Greenwood region in Tulsa, Oklahoma which was known as one of the most prosperous Black communities in the U.S. This area was destroyed during race riots in 1921. Over the past 20 plus years, digital communities have been created utilizing the same name.
In the U.S., black Americans have a buying power of about $1.3 million annually while less than one percent of that money is re-circulated back into the black community. “When you look at it in that way, it’s startling. For me, it made me wonder, how can I change that? Now, we have this platform where we bring people together to be inspired and become entrepreneurs.”
As an entrepreneur, owning her private practice Kalamazoo Counseling Connection for the past eight years, Nicole feels a passion and need to support the black business community. “When you start to have more, and you’re given access to more, you should share that with others,” says Nicole. “Even if I didn’t plan on being an advocate or in this space there is a responsibility to utilize my access to lift the voices and concerns of the most vulnerable population that may otherwise never be heard. So, instead of always taking from the world, maybe you give a little back.”
With almost 7,500 followers across Michigan, Black Wall Street has seen consistent growth of 12 percent each year with engagement rates upwards of 80 percent. While only black entrepreneurs and business owners are permitted to offer services through the platform, Nicole recommends that everyone join the group and use the Facebook page and website as a directory to request services or products.