By Ron Busby
A crying need. A germ of an idea. A determination to make a difference. These are the elements that led to the 2009 founding of the U.S. Black Chambers Inc. Despite meager startup capital and few business relationships in Washington, D.C., it wasn’t long before power players in the district took notice of our bold leadership and unapologetic approach to advocating for Black business owners.
At our inception in 2009, our mission was simple: to capitalize on the energy and euphoria resulting from the election of the nation’s first Black president and use it to amplify the concerns of Black business owners. We knew in order to truly be the voice of the nation’s Black business owners we had to build intimate relationships with business owners, institutions, corporations, nonprofits and individuals who were invested in the Black business community.
Within the first year of our founding, the USBC gained the support and membership of 113 Black chambers of commerce from across the nation. These early-stage investments gave us the leverage, influence and credibility we needed to legitimize our role as effective spokesman for the concerns of Black business.
At the three-year mark, we were in full stride, building relationships with the administration, elected officials on Capitol Hill and elected officials in states where we had a chamber affiliate. Our relationships with Black chambers and other business organizations allowed us to gain deeper insights into both challenges and opportunities faced by Black entrepreneurs. With a clear understanding of those challenges and opportunities, we were able to effectively advocate for Black entrepreneurs on Capitol Hill for legislation and policies that encouraged small business growth.
We also expanded our programmatic and member benefits by offering our most impactful resource to date: our Bank-Black Credit Card program designed to broaden access to capital for Black entrepreneurs. In 2016, USBC partnered with New Orleans-based Liberty Bank to create a unique credit card with one of the nation’s lowest interest rates of 9.96 percent APR. Our partnership with Liberty Bank allows us to make a dual impact by supporting both a Black-owned bank and Black business owners.
Our efforts have not gone unnoticed, leading the way for us to be named the 2016 “Advocate of the Year,” one of the highest award distinctions given by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). With 10 years of service to the Black business community, Friday, March 8, 2019 marks our 10th anniversary of service to Black business owners and Black America at large. As we celebrate our anniversary and prepare for our annual National Business Conference, we are reminded that we’ve achieved great success because we stand on the shoulders of past and living legends, who continue to support and guide us on our mission towards the realization of economic empowerment through entrepreneurship. To date we advocate on behalf of a collective 300,000 Black-owned small businesses and will continue to adamantly serve as the leading voice of America’s Black business owners.
Ron Busby is president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers Inc. and has dedicated himself to the empowerment of the Black business community.