Memphis Mayor Teams Up With SBA and Operation HOPE to Drive Black Economic Development

All hands are on deck to drive Black economic development.

Members of the U.S. Small Business Administration and John Hope Bryant, CEO of Operation HOPE, gathered Thursday with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland to discuss the goal to provide resources to help small Black-owned businesses grow into successful companies.

According to Action News 5, Mayor Strickland revealed his efforts toward supporting Black businesses, including the increase in contract opportunities he has provided to Black entrepreneurs.

“We had to do better contracting for services from the city government. When I took office, it was about 12% of contracts. We have basically doubled that amount,” Strickland said.

Operation HOPE and the City of Memphis collaborated with the One Million Black Business and Entrepreneur Initiative back in February 2021 to expand on its mission to drive Black economic development across the United States.

“We aim to start, grow, and scale 1 million Black businesses by 2030 to provide a successful path to wealth creation for the black community,” the website states.

Operation HOPE was founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist John Hope Bryant with a vision to create an innovative approach to uplifting the community and addressing critical issues facing corporations and financial institutions. The American non-profit organization partners with “like-minded players” to provide resources that target systemic issues like economic inequality, financial illiteracy, social injustice, inequitable access to capital, and lack of financial dignity.

“My business has encountered and taken full advantage of the City of Memphis’ certification process, Operation HOPE’s 1MBB program and the SBA’s programs/trainings, and COVID recovery,” said Nicole Gates, owner of She-EO Unlimited. “Thanks to Operation HOPE, I completed their in-depth entrepreneur training program and even became Shopify certified.”

Action News 5 reported that together Operation HOPE and the City of Memphis aim to support 500 Black-owned small businesses through the initiative by the end of Strickland’s term.