OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Minority businesses represent a small percentage of total businesses here in the metro area. The newly formed Midlands African Chamber focuses on bringing assistance to this underrepresented community.
The signs may be up, but when you take a look inside some businesses have packed up and are closed temporarily or indefinitely.
The Midlands African Chamber, established by Karine Sokph during the pandemic, wants to give a voice to small minority businesses that don't have a voice or significant representation in the community.
"I realized there just wasn't an organization focused on African immigrants and I did not see any chambers specifically dedicated to the black community. The idea was to bring those two communities together and work for the economic advancement of the whole," said Sokph.
They concentrate on advocacy, economic advancement and opportunity.
"We also provide them with customer referrals, we help them develop their business and have access to capital," said Sokph.
They also want minority businesses to have a say in education, laws and workforce efforts in Nebraska. To stand true to their mission statement they have developed what is called the Pitch Black competition. It's for those wanting to start a new business as well as those looking to grow their current business.
"We believe there are a lot of people out there with great ideas but just lack the capital and they just don't know how to get started, so we hoping that by providing this program we are bringing entrepreneurship to our community," said Sokph.
They will be giving out three awards and the first-place winner will receive $5,000.
Winners of the Pitch Black competition will also get help in the areas of business legal advice, accounting and marketing.
Submissions are accepted starting next month. Visit their website for more information.