On Saturday, September 9, from 3 to 5 p.m., local Black small business owners will gather to write personal letters to Minnesota’s Congressional delegation to shed light on the needs of minority-owned businesses and the obstacles they face. They will meet at Flava Cafe, a Black-owned coffee shop at 623 University Ave W in St. Paul.
The event is organized by Sheletta Brundidge, who will travel to Washington, DC this week to receive a national business award for advocacy.
“It’s shocking but true that eight in 10 Black-owned businesses will fail in the first 18 months and that’s due to historical obstacles to funding,” Brundidge said. “We’re coming together to change that. Now’s the time to ask for greater and more strategic investments in Black businesses.”
In connection with her trip to accept her award, Brundidge has meetings set up on Capitol Hill with Minnesota’s Congressional delegation, including Sen. Tina Smith and Rep. Angie Craig, Rep. Dean Phillips and Rep. Ilhan Omar. She will take the handwritten letters from the Black entrepreneurs directly to them.
DFL Senate Majority leader, Sen. Kari Dziedzic, Sen. Judy Seeberger, lobbyist Brian McDaniel, and volunteers from the League of Women Voters will take part in today’s letter-writing event to offer their professional advice and input on how to best prepare convincing messages for Brundidge to deliver.
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“Black entrepreneurs are skilled in running their businesses but that doesn’t mean they know how to tell their story to congressmen and congresswomen and senators,” Brundidge said. “We are bringing in the folks who’ve heard the “asks” to help them write letters and tell their stories in a way that will get results.”
The CEO of ShelettaMakesMeLaugh, a podcasting platform, production and marketing company, Brundidge will be recognized at the National Small Business Association’s Annual Advocate of the Year Award Luncheon on Sept. 13 in Washington, DC.
“I’m overwhelmed at this national honor, but I want the trip to mean something. I’m taking Minnesota’s Black business owners with me, not physically, but to use my political capital to carry their concerns,” Brundidge said.
Brundidge conceived and sponsored the first Black Entrepreneurs Day at the Capitol last February, bringing 300 small business owners of color to St. Paul. They met with the Governor, cabinet-level officials, and state legislators from both parties to highlight their specific needs and the barriers to their success.
Last month during Black Business Month, Brundidge funded an outdoor billboard campaign to highlight five Black women business owners and gifted five other Black women business owners with $1000.
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