OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Back in March, the Midlands African Chamber announced it wanted to help Black-owned businesses succeed in our area. The chamber asked small business owners or people with a business idea to develop a business pitch and present it in a business pitch competition.
3 News Now anchor Serese Cole has covered this program and all of its participants over the last few months.
Saturday the Pitch Black grand finale was held downtown, as the five finalists pitched their businesses to a panel of judges competing for first place.
"Huge bragging rights," Midlands African Chamber President Korine Sokph said.
Throw in $10,000, accounting, legal and marketing services, and a first-place trophy.
That's what House of Bah owner Jamil Bah-Traore took home after finishing at the top.
"For somebody like me, winning a prize like this, it wouldn’t have been available if there wasn’t a Midlands African Chamber or Pitch Black,” Bah-Traore said. “Pitch Black is just a blessing come true.”
The other four candidates that competed in the finale also received prizes.
However, those winnings aren't what today, or this entire competition was all about
"Cash, connections, and coaching. Those three things are what will help their businesses be successful, and Pitch Black embodies all three,” Sokph said.
"I mean the money is nice, trust me, but the validation of what I’ve been going through. The benefit that I've gained is more than the money because it’s a reminder that you’re on the right path,” Bah-Traore said. “People believe in you, so do it. Any entrepreneur out there I’m telling you, listen to that voice. Listen to that voice telling you do this, do this, do this, and it will happen.”
The finale had guest speakers that gave participants and attendees business advice as well.
The Midlands African Chamber was founded in 2020, during the worst of the pandemic.
Saturday, and these last couple of months, were huge for people to make connections.
"A lot of our board members are meeting each other for the first time in person today,” Sokph said. “So, this is very exciting for us as a team.”
"Bringing us together, everybody from different races and backgrounds, it’s just beautiful,” Bah-Traore said. “It’s beautiful for Omaha, it’s beautiful for minorities, it’s beautiful for Africans.”
Pitch Black is set to return for its second year in 2022 and continue to give African immigrants and the Black community an opportunity to advance its economic footprint.