Nearly 200 black-owned local businesses listed in directory
The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce recently published its 2016 edition of the Black Business Directory, and the number of establishments it contained surprised one its own board members.
The directory includes 195 African American businesses, 45 organizations, 24 churches and a list of other entrepreneurs and resources. The businesses and organizations fall into 37 categories in the 40-page booklet.
Corinda Rainey-Moore, a member of the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce board, said she wasn’t aware Madison had that many black-owned businesses—and she wants to see that number grow.
“We want the community to know that we are here and that we are not going away,” Rainey-Moore said in a recent interview. “We also want our black business owners to know that we support them. And one way that we can support them is by getting these books in the hands of any and everybody that we can, so that they know that these businesses exist and encourage them to support them.”
Rainey-Moore talked about the directory as she sat in the living room of Milele Chikasa Anana, who is publisher and editor of UMOJA magazine and an advisory member of the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce board.
Anana, affectionately referred to in the local African American community as Ms. Milele, was instrumental in producing the directory. She said the directory not only shows the strength of her community, but also how black-owned businesses are helping to build community in Madison.
“These people pay themselves, they hire other people, they hire teenagers, they continue that cycle of jobs and employment for people,” said Anana. “We’re not just looking at this like a listing of alphabetical names, it is a part of the economic infrastructure of Madison.”
She paged through the directory and pointed out examples of how Madison Magazine and other businesses could use the directory, such as catering food for an office party from one of the black-owned restaurants.
“You can recycle some of your revenue in order for them to prosper and survive,” she said.
Rainey-Moore said that in addition to fueling the economic growth of the city, these businesses also help spur growth in their own community. She says it’s important for blacks to “buy from other blacks” so the money circulates in their own neighborhoods multiple times before it goes elsewhere.
“We want to leverage our buying power,” Rainey-Moore said.
She added that promoting black businesses through the directory could generate interest among other African Americans in becoming entrepreneurs. She said established business owners could serve as mentors and perhaps show others “how they got to where they are.”
This is the second edition of the directory. Anana said the current edition, which came out in December, was paid for in part with a sponsorship from BMO Harris Bank and from Community Development Black Grant funds from the City of Madison.
The chamber has plans to post the directory online, she said, but so far it is available in print only. The group printed 500 copies; and as of Feb. 26, it had distributed 460 copies.
The directory also lists annual events in the black community. And as an added feature, Anana said, the business owners are listed alphabetically by first name—because people in her community tend to know each other by their first name and not necessarily their last name.
“It’s so useful,” she said of the directory. “It’s a little treasure trove.”