By Torin Brazzle
Executive Director, IGNITE! Alabama
Even before COVID-19 and civil unrest, systemic racism, racial inequality, disparities, a lack of access to training, support, resources, and capital, perpetuated an unlevel playing field—catapulting Alabama’s minority community seemingly, into a “State of Emergency.”
Despite one’s very best efforts, Alabama minorities often find themselves “being the last to know” as it relates to educational and financial opportunities. They lack a supportive network and frequently fall prey to unfair business practices, manipulative and restrictive voting laws, policies, strategic poll closings, and redlining within disadvantaged communities.
According to a 2019 study published by Alabama Possible, the State of Alabama is the 6th poorest state in the U.S. with over 800,000 Alabamians living below the poverty threshold.
Moreover, statistics show that while 72 percent of Alabama’s “Heads of Households” are African American women; they are 51 percent underpaid vs. white women AND 61 percent underpaid vs. white men.
Also, although 26 percent of the State of Alabama’s population is African American; they only own three percent of Alabama’s businesses with employees. So, while we are frustrated, we are not hopeless.
We simply acknowledge that it is time to IGNITE! Alabama and become the change we MUST see!
To that end, IGNITE! Alabama was born.
If you are not familiar with IGNITE! Alabama, we are a holistic and supportive ecosystem designed to educate and bridge communication gaps between organizations, service providers, and minorities within the State of Alabama.
IGNITE!s mission is to ensure that YOU and other small minority business owners and entrepreneurs, stay informed, have a clear understanding, and receive access to Federal, State, and Local Funding, as well as resources and technical assistance needed to competitively compete, succeed, and excel.
However, we cannot and do not even desire to do this alone.
So, over the last year, we have researched and identified the following organizations and service providers that exist to help YOU and other small business owners WIN:
- Alabama Small Business Development Center SBDC
- Alabama Procurement Training Assistance Center PTAC
- Alabama A&M University – Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Development
- Birmingham Business Alliance
- Birmingham Business Resource Center BBRC
- Business Council of Alabama
- City of Birmingham
- Create Birmingham
- Operation Hope
- Orok Consulting Group
- The Paije Group
- Pathway Lending
- REV Birmingham
- Sabre Finance
- SCORE Circle of Mentors
- TMB Tax & Financial Services
- TruFund Financial Services
- Urban Impact
If you have heard of these organizations and service providers, wonderful….CALL THEM! If you were not aware of them, you are welcome.
Now, I need for you to Google, learn more, and call them today!
No More Excuses!
Listen, I acknowledge that life is hard, and in many cases, COVID-19 has certainly not helped.
However, I can assure you that if you INTENTIONALLY begin making strides to correct any deficiencies in your life, you WILL definitely be in a much better place!!!
So, as Nike often reminds us, “Just Do It!” because I can assure you, that life is not about how you start, but truly…how you finish!
Fortunately, you DO NOT have to do it alone….IGNITE! Alabama and every other organization listed, are here for you!
To stay connected, please visit www.ignitealabama.org and register with IGNITE! Alabama today.
Woodlawn Business Association is much more than a membership for business owners who open in Woodlawn—it’s a network, a resource, and a big team of community cheerleaders.
Nationally sought-after professional food and travel photographer Stephen DeVries has been growing his business in The Switch since 2016.