In Focus: BIPOC businesses’ inclusion in Minnesota's economy

The racial reckoning sparked by George Floyd’s murder in 2020 led several of the country’s largest corporations — from Apple to Target to Goldman Sachs — to pledge support for entrepreneurs from various racial and ethnic backgrounds. 

Many corporations promised spending, investment, mentorship and all forms of additional support.

However, a study conducted earlier this year revealed that only a portion of pledges from U.S. companies had materialized. In Minnesota, some businesses owned by people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds have reported a surge followed by a subsequent decline in support.

Additionally, media organizations and cultural influencers compiled lists of businesses owned by people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds to help the public more consciously spend and invest their money. But have these efforts resulted in Minnesota’s consumers permanently changing their spending and investing habits in ways that will support and sustain a more inclusive local economy? How are Minnesota’s business owners from various racial and ethnic backgrounds faring now? What does true allyship and support from corporations, the government and consumers look like?

Angela Davis on Wednesday hosted In Focus: A Seat at the Table: BIPOC Businesses’ Inclusion in the Minnesota Economy, a conversation with business leaders, entrepreneurs and others working toward lasting change in Minnesota’s economy. They’ll share their first-hand experiences and offer ideas on how Minnesotans can take action, beyond a one-time purchase or donation, to effect a more inclusive local economy. BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous and people of color.

Guests:

  • Nancy Korsah has a background in aviation and banking, but her main focus and priority is to foster Black economics and help the Black communities across the U.S. thrive through Black Business Enterprises. Korsah was born and raised in Italy, originally Ghanian in West Africa. While in Italy, her family was among the super minority living in a town that was 99.8 percent white, where she struggled to find her identity and struggled to belong. When she moved to the U.S., she was welcomed by the African American community that helped shape her and her views on the community. This inspired her mission to help the community that had welcomed her and inspired her.

  • Alfredo Martel was named in November 2019 as president and CEO of Meda, which provides business consulting and access to capital and market opportunities for minority entrepreneurs and aims to achieve BIPOC small business success. He previously served as chief of marketing and strategic communications at the Walker Art Center. Martel moved to Minnesota in 2008 for a leadership job at Caribou Coffee and has also worked for companies including Famous Dave’s of America and Yum! Brands. He was born in Puerto Rico to two Cuban exiles. 

  • Terri Thao is a program director at Nexus Community Partners, a nonprofit community building intermediary where she runs the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI).  She will soon be joining Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies leading their Local Initiatives and Opportunities program. Terri has spent her professional career in the fields of community economic development, community building, leadership development and philanthropy. She also teaches classes on leadership and advocacy at Metropolitan State University.

In Focus is a series of convenings we are committed to leading on Minnesota’s persistent racial disparities. Through conversations with community leaders that are shaped by our curious, engaged audience, we hope to encourage new connections and relationships that will help Minnesota communities make progress toward equity and inclusion. 

If you have thoughts or questions about the event or this month’s topic, check out the MPR News In Focus page for different ways to share your experience. You can also join our discussion group on Facebook.

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