Prosper seeks to coordinate growth of Black-owned businesses

Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 5:23 AM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - According to one group, the way to increase wages and earnings for everyone in the Birmingham Metro is to increase the number of successful Black-owned businesses in the area.

That’s the push of Prosper, a group created by several businesses and civic organizations trying to address findings in a report by the Brookings Institution. That report finds that Black people own three percent of Metro area businesses, putting Birmingham last among the Top 50 Metro Areas.

On Feb. 23, Prosper rolled out an operation backing Black businesses, which seeks to help people in various stages, from those trying to expand existing business to those who just have an idea.

Prosper’s Director of Initiatives, Dee Manyama, says they will be tracking that business growth over time to determine effectiveness of the initiative.

“We have a North Star of increasing income, so that’s the main thing that we think that everybody can get behind, because we are also not just ... lacking in business growth and development, but in wages in general. So if we feel like we can allow that boat to rise, then it will carry the rest of us along with it,” said Manyama.

Manyama says Prosper plans to do that by coordinating the work that a number of organizations are doing to help business owners.

“We have a lot of great organizations that are doing fantastic programming that have workshops and different accelerators to help businesses at whatever stage, but it’s disjointed right now. The best way to move an engine is to make sure that the system is in place so that all of the pieces are working together, they know what each other is doing, and they can collaborate to increase impact,” Manyama continued.

Manyama says Prosper is also focused on job creation, job preparation and job access.

You can learn more about the initiative at at this link.

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