As Black History Month begins, individuals, businesses and organizations are looking for ways to celebrate. One way to improve the trajectory of minority-owned businesses is to support them in the long term.
The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the nation’s oldest historically black athletic conference, launched its Minority Business Marketplace, presented by Lowe’s. The marketplace, housed on the conference website, is a centralized location for consumers to find and support minority-owned businesses in their community.
The initial group of featured companies includes many that have participated in past CIAA championships and events.
“While looking for a product online, I was frustrated with the inability to find a list of minority-owned businesses,” said CIAA Commissioner McWilliams. “The CIAA has always worked with companies in our community, and I thought this would be a great way to centralize that information in a digital space that we could share with our fans and supporters.”
One of the businesses is CapturedbyKevin, a visual branding and consulting service.
“Minority businesses add value to the economy. By supporting their efforts, we are having an impact on upward mobility,” Kevin Douglas, CEO of CapturedbyKevin, said. “A lot of times minorities are not afforded those opportunities.”
The CIAA Minority Business Marketplace includes several vendors who took part in the 2020 CIAA Basketball Tournament.
Each brand is represented in the marketplace by its logo and a link to its website, where consumers can learn more about the products and services offered.
“Many of the featured companies have been loyal to the conference for many years. The virtual marketplace is a way to expand their reach to a larger customer base,” McWilliams added. “We appreciate Lowe’s for recognizing the value of this platform to support our community in a new way.”
Plans for the initiative include regularly adding new businesses and sharing updates via social media as companies and opportunities are introduced.
For the past five years, the conference has hosted a Minority Business Symposium during CIAA tournament week. The symposium has included keynote speakers and breakout sessions targeted to women, minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.
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