In the pursuit of fostering a more inclusive and prosperous business landscape, the empowerment of Black entrepreneurs is of utmost importance. To gain valuable insights into this realm, we had the privilege of sitting down with Professor Devin Robinson, the visionary founder and CEO of Black And In Business, a groundbreaking platform dedicated to supporting, uplifting, and connecting Black business owners and the Urban Business Institute, a business training institution with a focus on how to do business in urban communities.
Professor Robinson’s expertise and dedication to the cause have been instrumental in driving positive change within the Black entrepreneurial community. In this exclusive interview, we explore his inspiring journey, the challenges faced by Black entrepreneurs, and the transformative power of empowering the next generation in the pursuit of economic success and social advancement.
What specific challenges have you observed Black entrepreneurs face in the business world, and how does BlackAndInBusiness.com address those challenges?
At the top of the list is the actual transition into full-time business ownership, managing a business’ capital and recruiting talent that’s willing to charter the rough waters with the entrepreneur. Our platform provides less theory-based and more of real-world information, perspectives and experiences from actual entrepreneurs in a way that helps the budding or struggling entrepreneur.
What are some key strategies or advice you would give to aspiring Black entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses?
The most important thing is education. We often don’t get solid exposure, while growing upin our communities, to what it takes to run a sound business. Much of our exposure hinges more on the “hustle.” I would also add networking and isolation. You must treat your approach to entrepreneurship like a boot camp/training camp. Business truly is a battlefield.
Can you share some success stories of Black entrepreneurs who have benefited from the resources and support provided by BlackAndInBusiness.com and the Urban Business Institute?
One aspiring entrepreneur secured a remarkable $30,000 SBA grant, all thanks to our unwavering support in shaping his food truck concept into a thriving reality. Another determined individual landed a coveted contract with the state of North Carolina after we provided her with funding and a solid business plan, turning her vision into a resounding success. And then there’s the ambitious doctor who took a leap of faith, transitioning from employment at a college to founding his own practice, which has now blossomed into a remarkable trilogy of thriving medical facilities. These awe-inspiring journeys are the heart of what we do—empowering dreams, transforming careers, and creating a lasting impact on lives through our exceptional training and guidance.
How important is networking and building connections within the Black business community, and what are some effective ways to do so?
I think it is very important to know who is out there as competition, colleagues and mentors. It allows you to understand your business horizontally and vertically. The most effective ways are knocking on doors. Many people would assume that going to events is one of the best ways. But honestly, most events are filled with budding entrepreneurs, not the ones really making an impact. The ones who are really making things happen are at their businesses or at times on the golf courses.
What are some common misconceptions or stereotypes about Black-owned businesses, and how do you work to challenge and overcome them?
Amidst the multitude of Black-owned businesses, there may be misconceptions that services are subpar, products outdated, and owners lacking knowledge. However, these stereotypes do not define the thriving community of Black entrepreneurs. Within this vibrant landscape, exceptional Black-owned businesses flourish but, unfortunately, some of them face challenges that can lead to closures. These very stereotypes often deter us from seeking out and supporting these businesses, inadvertently perpetuating the cycle. As an advocate for change, I took it upon myself to shed light on these issues in my book, “Blackpreneurship: 50 Obstacles Black Entrepreneurs Face and How to Overcome Them,” available at www.50obstaclestoovercome.com. Let’s unite in dispelling these misconceptions, celebrating the achievements of Black entrepreneurs and, together, creating a future where they thrive and prosper.
What initiatives or programs do BlackAndInBusiness.com and the Urban Business Institute offer to promote financial literacy and business education in underserved communities?
Embark on a transformative entrepreneurial journey through our comprehensive range of training programs. Whether you’re starting from scratch, seeking to elevate your current business, or aiming to lead with confidence, we have a program tailored to your goals. From “Transitioning to Entrepreneurship” to “Transitioning to Executive/CEO,” our expert instructors cover all aspects, including finances, leadership, and more. Unleash your potential today and join us in shaping a successful future.
What role does advocacy play in creating a more equitable business environment, and how does BlackAndInBusiness.com engage in advocacy efforts?
Advocacy is crucial in addressing disparities that persist in the business world for Black entrepreneurs. Though successes are attainable, they occur at different rates compared to non-Black counterparts. To achieve parity, advocacy efforts span across our communities, with elected officials, and in educating Black customers and employees. Together, let’s work towards a more inclusive and thriving business landscape.
How do you stay updated on the latest trends and opportunities in the business world, and how do you share that knowledge with the Black business community?
We get first-hand knowledge because we are on the ground. However, I also subscribe to Black publications and follow Black social media pages for information that could be useful such as Black Enterprise, Black Information Network, etc. We then share that information with the subscribers of our newsletter.
Can you highlight some notable achievements or milestones that BlackAndInBusiness.com and the Urban Business Institute have accomplished since their inception?
International training programs. Over $10,000,000 in new funding for entrepreneurs, Over 3,000 students. We also won a grant to work with the Obama Administration EDA for oneyear to help develop small business owners.
What advice would you give to corporations and institutions looking to increase diversity and inclusion within their organizations and support Black entrepreneurs?
They need to issue more POs to Black businesses and place more Blacks in leadership of their organizations. Just having Black talent at the helm will provide better diversity at all levels of their operations.
How do you envision the future of BlackAndInBusiness.com and the Urban Business Institute, and what are your goals for the coming years?
Becoming the premier source for Black entrepreneurship, Black business ownership and the Black worker. Our plan is to create a rich Black economic system that has its own sustenance.
Finally, what message or words of encouragement would you like to share with Black entrepreneurs who may be facing obstacles on their entrepreneurial journey?
Entrepreneurs are the tip of the sword. Black entrepreneurs are the Black community’s entire sword. It is our weapon towards true equality.
Organizations like BlackAndInBusiness.com play an indispensable role in the Black community, serving as beacons of hope and catalysts for change. Through their unwavering commitment to empowering Black entrepreneurs, they pave the way for economic growth and self-determination within the community.
As a society, it is incumbent upon us to actively support and engage with these platforms on a consistent basis. By doing so, we amplify their impact, enabling them to reach more aspiring Black business owners, provide vital resources, and foster a sense of unity and solidarity. Together, let us embrace the transformative potential of such organizations, as we strive towards a future where Black entrepreneurs are not only empowered but celebrated for their indomitable spirit and entrepreneurial achievements. Thank you, dear readers, for taking the time to delve into this crucial subject matter and for your commitment to building a more inclusive and thriving entrepreneurial landscape for all.