When social entrepreneur Nikki Porcher walked through the doors of a business expo four years ago, she was captivated by the array of small businesses that filled the room. However, amongst the many creators and makers whose products and services were on display during the event, there was one missing element that stuck out like a sore thumb: the absence of Black women entrepreneurs. Disheartened by the lack of representation, Porcher’s drive home was one of deep reflection. She thought about the Black women whose businesses often fell under the radar due to the lack of awareness and was determined to create a platform where they can be seen, heard and celebrated. The passion to fill the void led her to her purpose and ultimately planted the seed for her nonprofit organization Buy from a Black Woman.
For Porcher, while coming of age, she was surrounded by powerful examples of Black women entrepreneurship; from the legacies of visionaries like Madam C. J. Walker whose entrepreneurial journeys were on the pages of her school history books to her very own grandmother Idella; a pillar in her New Jersey community who had multiple hustles. For Porcher’s grandmother, entrepreneurship was a means for survival. She learned several trades and offered services—including everything from sewing and upholstering furniture to fixing cars and farming—all to provide for her six children.
The spirit of entrepreneurship embedded in Porcher’s childhood would later follow her and influence her endeavors in the social activism space. In 2016, she launched Buy from a Black Woman as a blog and would review products from Black women-owned businesses every week. After gaining traction and an outpour of support, she then transformed the blog into a nonprofit to provide resources and tools to help Black women entrepreneurs. Within six months, the organization distributed its first grant. “Seeds are being planted and you don’t even know what is growing until it grows,” Porcher told NewsOne. “I had to make sure that I was strong enough within myself to know what I stood for. I’m a Black woman so I’m going to advocate for those who look, think and who are me.”
According to CNBC, Black women are launching businesses at a faster rate than other racial groups, but are underfunded. Buy from a Black Woman is centered on empowering, inspiring, and educating Black women business owners and spreading awareness about their ventures. Aside from providing educational resources and funding for entrepreneurs, the nonprofit has an online directory filled with Black women-owned businesses across different spaces. The foundation of Buy from a Black Woman is rooted in the power of sisterhood. Porcher credits its engaged community for its significant growth. Since its inception, the organization has amassed a large following and the support has led to the expansion of its programs and services. Amid the pandemic, the nonprofit launched a COVID-19 relief fund and was able to help over 20 Black women prevent their businesses from shuttering.
Among the other impactful initiatives being led by the organization is the creation of its annual Buy from A Black Woman Awareness Month which happens every November. The effort was launched to amplify businesses run by Black women during the year’s highest consumer spending season and bring attention to the barriers they face in the entrepreneurship space. “During the third quarter of 2020 we witnessed an immense amount of support for Black lives and businesses,” said Porcher. “With the final quarter of the year recording the highest consumer spending, this is the best time to see that support in action. Through Buy from A Black Woman Awareness Month, we are on a mission to maintain the momentum of supporting businesses owned and operated by Black women.” Buy from a Black Woman will host an array of events throughout the entire month including the Buy From A Black Woman Virtual Conference happening on November 14 where attendees will receive tools, resources and advice from prominent Black women business owners and National Buy From A Black Woman Awareness Day on November 19 where recipients of the nonprofit’s business grants and Idella Scholarship—a fund inspired by the legacy of her grandmother that will support businesses driving community impact—will be announced. Among the grants being provided are trademark and copyright awards to help Black women creators protect their intellectual property.
When it comes to leveling the playing field for Black women business owners, Porcher has been putting in the work for years. Buy from a Black Woman is her ode to Black women entrepreneurship. She’s grateful to be able to use her entrepreneurial endeavors as an avenue to uplift others. “When you are walking in your purpose and listening to the community that you serve it’s going to be easy for you to do the work you want to do,” said Porcher. “I listen to Black women, they tell me what they need and I go out and advocate. I get to help Black women for a living. I feel so blessed to be able to do the work.”