OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As Omaha grows more diverse an area nonprofit is doing its part to in supporting Black and African entrepreneurs in reaching economic independence.
In 2000, out of the metro's Black population about 1,800 people were foreign-born and predominantly from Africa.
in 2017, that number nearly tripled to about 8,000.
With that growth came the opportunity for more African-owned businesses.
But to start those up you often need support.
That's why lawyer Karine Sokpoh started the nonprofit Midlands African Chamber. It supports all minorities but is catered specifically to the African and Black communities in Omaha and Nebraska to help them start and grow businesses and achieve economic independence.
"When I opened this law firm, I didn't have that big network,” she said. “My hope is that the Midlands African Chamber will provide that network for somebody that is coming up now trying to open that first business here."
Because of COVID-19 they haven't been able to have any in-person events since they started.
But they've done a couple of virtual events via zoom and host a monthly event called power hour where they invite economic professionals to discuss entrepreneurship.
The organization is also organizing a business pitch event for August of 2021; an event they will hope continues on.
"It is called Pitch Black and it's a pitch competition where we want to award three business owners or startups with funds to enhance their business or start their business,” Sokpoh said. “We also want to help them with either legal, marketing or IT services expertise so that they can enhance or make their business a reality. Beyond business support, the winners of the Pitch Black event will get cash prizes. The first-place winner will get $5,000, second place will get $2,500 and third place will get $1,500."
Sokpoh said these efforts are to help minorities prosper, move forward and fulfill their dream of living the American dream.