How This Entrepreneur is Helping Black Businesses Thrive | Chase for Business

It always starts with a to-do list

“At first, I didn’t even think I was going to start a business,” Bowman says. “I noticed a lot of black-owned businesses closing in my neighborhood. I wanted to create a solution. “

During her lunch break at her job specializing in social media communications, Bowman wrote down all the businesses Black owned that she wanted to share with the world. She then created a to-do list of activities she could do, jotting down notes such as buy a site, come up with a domain name and create a directory for people to find this information.

While she was working on her list, she used her social media experience to get off the ground and drive engagement online. She used the social pages as a hub to share information about various businesses until the website was completed.

“As the community grew, so did the demand for OBWS. In 2015, I launched the website and posted about it on social media,” recalls Bowman. “I’ll never forget that day. One of the first comments was, ‘That’s great. When’s the app coming? And it was like, OK, OK, there’s another goal on the list. And it hasn’t stopped.'”

What’s in a name? A lot of history actually

Bowman took a black music history course in college, which piqued her interest, prompting her to delve deeper into American and black history after graduation.

She came across James S. Hirsch’s book Riot and Remembrance, which describes the Tulsa Massacre, a 1921 race riot that left hundreds of black residents dead. The attack took place in Greenwood County, also known as Black Wall Street, one of the most affluent African-American communities in the United States.

When she read about the tragedy, she wanted to do her part to strengthen the successful black business community.

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“Reading about this neighborhood with a lot of affluent black entrepreneurs was inspiring,” says Bowman. “I saw little bits of it around my neighborhood in Brooklyn, and I really wanted to recreate it, or at least a digital version of it.”

Sometimes you have to jump

Bowman realized she couldn’t split her time between her “full-time plus” job. And after that leap of faith, she overcame many obstacles on her way to success.

“There were big challenges at every stage. Mostly I had to wear different hats,” says Bowman. “I wrote press releases and interviews, built a website and managed social media. I also had to find a team that was willing to work together to make it a success.

What kept Bowman from surviving the hectic times was the outpouring of public support. People she had never met begged her to keep going. She knew then that OBWS was not just her personal dream of sharing the work of black businesses. It was about something bigger.

Her company needed to exist.

This was especially clear during the pandemic, when many small businesses closed their doors. Many black entrepreneurs sought resources and support. During this time, OBWS offered a series of virtual workshops. OBWS also launched the Black Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, which award grants to black-owned businesses.

“The pandemic helped demonstrate the tremendous need for OBWS to help black businesses and communities thrive,” says Bowman.

A relationship based on mutual respect

A major benefit for Bowman was being accepted into the New Voices Banking Boot Camp, launched by the New Voices Foundation and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The program was awarded a scholarship and mentorship. Bowman had a mentor who worked at Chase and helped her learn about finance and business development.

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“I was really impressed with the amount of support Chase offered,” Bowman says. “My mentor was extremely helpful and we stayed in touch even after the program ended. My Chase Business Relationship Manager was absolutely great at introducing me to different opportunities and events. There were so many times I was swamped and she called me personally to make sure I used them. Working with Chase has been a game changer for me.

Since the implementation of OBWS required capital, getting a Chase Ink Business credit card was beneficial.

Bowman uses it for her monthly business expenses, and she uses rewards points for travel and monthly software needs and activity platforms like Google Workspace and Asana. As these platforms help automate operations and communicate with the team and users, it is critical that there are no interruptions in service. That’s why she appreciates the automatic payment feature of the Ink Business Credit Card.

“Autopay is great for taking one more thing off my plate,” says Bowman. “I never have to worry about running out of expenses at the end of the month.”

The future of black business is a culture of connection

“In a digitally driven world, black entrepreneurs, especially founders, need to stay connected to each other,” says Bowman.

“Now it’s very easy to work in silos and forget to connect with other entrepreneurs in your area. But it’s important to do it,” she says. “Now more than ever, people need that personal connection to a community so they can feel like they’re not alone in their journey.”

Going forward, OBWS aims to add more technologically advanced features to the site to encourage people to shop with Black-owned sellers. Bowman also plans to increase partnerships with local organizations and retailers to highlight more brands and bring black vendors to the shelves of retailers across the country.

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“I always say we’re a community-first company,” Bowman says. “Everything we do is focused on growing and strengthening the black business community.”

For more information on how to strengthen your business with the Chase Ink Business Credit Card or how to open a business line of credit, contact a Chase business banker.

The testimonials on this page or related videos are the sole opinions, findings or experiences of our client or trainee and not JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA or any of its affiliates. These opinions, findings or experiences may not reflect what all clients and trainees may achieve. JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA or any of its affiliates is not responsible for any decisions or actions taken in reliance on any information provided in the feedback.

For Informational/Educational Purposes Only: The views expressed in this article may differ from those of other employees and divisions of JPMorgan Chase & Co. The views and strategies described may not be suitable for everyone and are not intended as specific advice/recommendation for any individual. . The information is obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but JPMorgan Chase & Co. or its affiliates and/or subsidiaries do not guarantee its completeness or accuracy. You should carefully consider your needs and goals and consult with the appropriate professional(s) before making any decisions. Prospects and past performance do not guarantee future results.

JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA Member FDIC. ©2022 JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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