Brave New World Enterprises (BNWE) is excited to have joined forces with Washington State Representative, Jesse Johnson and the Department of Commerce in creating the Black Eco Chamber, a small business development incubator designed to provide culturally unique services to black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs of color.
This program has been a long coordinated effort between BNWE Founder and President, Shyan Selah, and Representative Johnson to address the need for increased economic empowerment among African Americans in Washington State and as such, was included as a sponsored proviso by Rep. Johnson in the 2022-2023 state budget, endorsed by the Washington State Black Caucus, and approved by Governor Jay Inslee to this launch this year.
“As we enter into a new phase of the workforce post-pandemic, we have many challenges yet also opportunities,” says Representative Johnson. “One of which is to foster and spearhead an entrepreneurial spirit to help cultivate ideas and support business. The Incubator will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to do just that. I am proud of what we can do with this program for our community and our State.”
The Black Eco Chamber also directly serves as a supporting program to help the state’s Department of Commerce reach its goals of expanding awareness and services to business owners of color.
“Equity in business opportunities builds a strong economy. Commerce is committed to working to close the racial wealth gap, in part by increasing business ownership of minority-owned firms. Support for programs like Black Eco Chamber program, in partnership with BNWE, is essential to build on momentum among regional economic development organizations, community-based organizations, and other affinity-based incubator programs to continue providing the necessary resources to support black entrepreneurs and business owners in industries that are poised for growth.” said Linda Womack, Commerce Managing Director of Small Business Finance and Community Support. Womack noted that Minority Business Development Agency research that shows African-American owned employer firms in the U.S. contribute $128 billion in economic output and 1.2 million jobs per year.
As a Black-owned business, BNWE has made it a mission to provide this opportunity to businesses owned by historically disadvantaged communities, especially black business owners. As an organization that has been rooted in the arts and entertainment industry (with a record label, TV/Film, digital tech, and publishing divisions) and a long-term provider of services including media, marketing, branding, and events for businesses in King County, BNWE has created a unique and dynamic program in the Black Eco Chamber designed to elevate the profiles and function of other minority-owned businesses.
“There is not only an urgent need but also a deep hope simmering in the community,” says BNWE President/CEO Shyan Selah. “The pandemic has totally upended social norms for us all, but has in particular for the black community both triggered cultural trauma that stems from economic dis-enfranchisement and lack of equitable opportunity. We aim to be solution developers engineering new ways to re-imagine equity.”
In his efforts to ensure that mission, Shyan Selah has also brought on former Vice President of Retail Banking and Wealth Management and the Founder of ClearBlu Capital, Larry Gilmore, as the Co-Executive Director of the Black Eco Chamber.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to support Brave New World, the State of Washington, and the Black Eco Chamber to have a significant impact in addressing racial equity through entrepreneurship,” says Gilmore. “We know that a high percentage of Black owned businesses have a high risk of failure due to the lack of capital and management solutions to scale. We also know that these communities have the highest risk impacting their wealth when exploring entrepreneurship. The Black Eco Chamber is committed to reducing these risks by providing a firm foundation for success with a variety of solutions. I’m confident we will provide long lasting solutions for years to come.“
Programming for the Black Eco Chamber includes networking events and monthly educational workshops covering topics including: starting a business in Washington State, Basic Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation, Corporate Funding Strategies, Franchising, and more. For the 2022-2023 schedule please visit: www.blackecochamber.com.