shining the spotlight on atlanta’s black business hub, blacklanta
July 30, 2021
There’s nothing as strong as the African American community uniting together towards one goal. We’ve seen how our potential can reach astronomical heights when we work together for a common cause to see every one of us win. Among many other examples of Black brilliance, a prime example would be how the community of Greenwood in Tulsa built a successful economic hub purely driven by the brilliance of Black minds and skill. With every helping hand we lend to each other, we have the ability to build greatness in our communities. This year’s theme of “WE GOT US” hones in on the message of self-reliance and self-determination within the Black community and is an invitation to celebrate Black culture unapologetically.
In Atlanta there’s a young organization known as BLACKLANTA, founded by Raven Strode in 2019. Blacklanta is an online platform that elevates the presence and positioning of black owners and their fantastic innovations, companies, and brands, as well as provides incredible job opportunities for everyone interested. The site offers support, education and growth to Black businesses by circulating the black dollar back into the community. We spoke to Raven about the inspiration behind Blacklanta.
What inspired you and your partners to start Blacklanta?
The journey of entrepreneurship for me started at a young age. My dad owned an antique business and paid me to set up his displays. Watching him hustle ignited something in me to start my own business. In 2011, I went off to college and started my first clothing brand at Clark Atlanta University. I ran this business for a while until I learned the importance of protecting intellectual property. While this business went under, for a while I was on the search to figure out “what’s next”. I always knew that I wanted a brand that was heavily involved in the community and I wanted to connect entrepreneurs in some capacity. This is how Blacklanta came to life. When the idea and name came to me, it was honestly God-given… I didn’t have to think too much about it. That’s when I knew that this was it.
What impact has Blacklanta has had on the community?
Blacklanta has had an impact on the community by hosting events, supporting local black entrepreneurs, and giving back. All events we have are free of charge and offer people an opportunity to engage and connect. We support black entrepreneurs by patronizing their businesses, encouraging others to support, and offering a free directory to highlight them. Lastly, we make it our priority to give back to the homeless community in Atlanta through a non-profit called Hashtag Lunch Bag ATL. We are also planning to launch our non-profit organization that will cater to the underserved youth in Atlanta.
Are there any challenges you’ve experienced so far?
The biggest challenge we have experienced so far is funding. Surveys find that Black women received just 0.27% of total venture capital investment between 2018 and 2019, for a total of $3.1 billion. Despite the lack of capital, black women are starting businesses at the fastest rate. We need capital.
What are some of the common mistakes you see Black business owners make, and how can they avoid making them?
Some of the common mistakes I see black business owners make is not having a business plan, doing things alone, failure to adapt, and failure to market online to reach large audiences. These mistakes can be avoided by doing in-depth research, connecting with other business owners about their strategies, being open to collaboration, and asking for help.
At the moment, Blacklanta serves as an online directory. We are currently crowdfunding through IFundWomen to open the first convenience store that will sell 100% black-owned products and services. The store will feature a “Creator Service” desk that will assist entrepreneurs with resources such as photography, videography, content creation, and more.
You can check out Blacklanta on their website, www.blacklanta.org, or follow them on their Instagram & Twitter pages @BlacklantaLLC.
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