Sat, Jun

The L.A. Black Investors Club and Sip & Sonder hosts the Inglewood Gentrification Town Hall meeting

An entrepreneur pitches a business plan at The L.A. Black Investors Club’s Black Business Pitch competition at Sip & Sonder. Photo by Jason Lewis


The L.A. Black Investors Club will host the meeting as well as their next Black Business Pitch competition at Sip & Sonder.

By Megan Reed

Shanita Nicholas and Amanda-Jane Thomas have made a positive impact in Inglewood and South Los Angeles since they moved to the area from New York City.  The two attorneys founded Sip & Sonder coffee shop in Inglewood and they took over The L.A. Black Investors Club (LABIC).  On June 21 at 7 p.m., they will host the Inglewood Gentrification Town Hall meeting, and on July 19 at 6:30 p.m., they will host the next Black Business Pitch Competition.  Both events will be held at Sip & Sonder.

The gentrification meeting will feature a panel discussion on the changing demographics of Inglewood and South Los Angeles.  

“This topic is one that’s very near and dear to the community, so we found it appropriate to discuss and grapple with some of those issues,” Thomas said.  

Local community members, business owners, and stakeholders will be in attendance to discuss the role that local government and policies have in shaping the affects of gentrification.  

This type of event is in line with Sip & Sonder’s mantra, which is, “For the Community, For the Culture.”  Their efforts with the the LABIC also falls in line with that mantra.  

The mission of the LABIC, which is a 501c3 non-profit organization, is to inform, exchange, and foster the development of entrepreneurial ventures through serving as a conduit to venture creation, capitalization, and capacity building for diverse communities.  Through programming, the LABIC strives to address the community's lack of access and exposure to resources, knowledge, investors, mentors, partners, and clients in order to build a framework for individual and collective wealth creation.

“What that means to us is providing access to resources, access to capitol, and access to a network,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas and Thomas knew a lot of small-business owners before they launched these endeavors, but they noticed that those entrepreneurs did not have the resources to grow.  The business owners lacked capital, as well as other vital resources.

“There’s a lot of innovation in our own communities,” Thomas said.  “The issues is that there’s not the resources.  The access to mentors, partners, customers, clients, and colleagues that these businesses actually need to refine their business ideas, to get their businesses off the ground, and then the ongoing support that they need to achieve success.”

The LABIC hosts the Black Business Pitch Competition quarterly.  At this event, which was launched last October, entrepreneurs submit their business plans, and roughly 10 entrepreneurs are selected to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges, who are typically venture capitalist and business owners.  

“The goal is that this serves as a launch pad for the entrepreneurs,” Thomas said.  “Not just for the winners.  Everyone who competes, they experience the process of actually putting their business idea forward and pitching before a panel of experts, and then a rigorous Q&A session.  That’s something that’s valuable.”

The entrepreneurs are able to hear valuable feedback about their idea, pitch, and business plan.  For many of the competitors, this is the first time that they have given a business pitch.  

African Americans trail other races in nearly every business category, and other races do a lot of business in Black communities.  Black dollars do not stay in Black communities for very long, and business owners who come from outside of the communities may not have the community’s and people’s best interest at heart, which is why it is important that Black people own businesses in their own communities.  

“There’s an inherent bias when a person operates their business,” Nicholas said.  “When owners in the community look like the people in the community, there’s still a bias, but the bias is toward the community, and toward what’s needed in that particular environment.”

Sip & Sonder is located at 108 S. Market Street.  Visit their website at www.sipandsonder.com, and follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. For more information about the LABIC, visit their website at www.lablackinvestorsclub.org and follow them on Instagram.  They are currently accepting business plans through July 6 for their upcoming competition.

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