A national report released last year showed that only 20 percent of the 5.6 million business owners were colored and the proportion of women was even lower.
MEMPHIS, Tennessee – Although Memphis was recently recognized as a top city for black and women-run businesses, entrepreneurs still face challenges.
The Memphis City Office of Business Diversity and Compliance has programs to provide assistance.
A national report published last year showed that only 20 percent of the 5.6 million business owners were colored.
The proportion of women is even smaller.
Two women from Memphis offer in-depth advice and support to Black women getting started in business.
Carolyn Chism-Hardy founded her first company in 2006.
First year sales for Hardy Bottling: $ 1 million.
She later sold with more than 200 employees.
Hardy doesn’t mind sharing her experience as a black entrepreneur who builds on the success of others.
She was a speaker at this year’s We Mean Business Symposium, organized by the City of Memphis Office of Business Diversity and Compliance.
“Well, Rudy, it is now important to you that you bid on contracts that become available through the office, and if they are unsuccessful they need to understand why they weren’t successful. You know, if not? Competitive. If they are would not be binding, “said Hardy.
Together with U of M basketball coach Penny Hardaway, Hardy shared her findings during the symposium for the fifth year now.
“If you’re competitive and you win a bid with the city, chances are you could win a bid with the private sector,” Hardy said.
While private contracts are the goal, Hardy says city contracts are a good place to start.
“The city has good payment practices. Small businesses don’t have access to Working Capitol and it really becomes a big problem if they have to wait 45 to 65 days to get paid. It doesn’t help anyone,” Hardy said.
It’s one of the biggest things, says Hardy, that affects a small business’s success.
The practice of your company, like that of the city: Present your invoice today, get paid tomorrow.
Hardy’s success proves to be inspiring to others as it has grown into a company that has grown from Hardy Investments and devotes itself to other tasks.
Joan Massey, director of the Office of Business Diversity and Compliance, says the focus of this year’s symposium was on pandemic recovery for small minority businesses.
Great work @ Joann_Massey901 & @OBDCMem!
“When Strickland took office in 2016, the city’s expenditure on diversity was 12 percent. His OBDC employees – headed by Joann Massey – have now increased this to 21 percent. “Https://t.co/c4HsumkciY
– Mayor Jim Strickland (@MayorMemphis) June 25, 2021
“The way to get companies back on track and regain the momentum we saw before the pandemic is to get them contracts and opportunities. Massey.
Meet people, literally where they live.
“Black companies hire other blacks in their neighborhood. So how do we solve employment problems? How do we solve business, crime and education by making sure small business owners have opportunities, ”said Massey.
Hardy explains how, from a retail perspective, investing in women in business makes sense and costs cents.
“Most of the purchasing decisions that are made in the grocery store are made by women. So if you don’t have women on your staff, you don’t have female suppliers, female salespeople, they don’t give you their perspective and women make those decisions, “Hardy said.