Black women entrepreneurs are using their businesses as vessels to drive change within their local communities. Amongst those impactful founders is Forty Acres Fresh Market creator and CEO Elizabeth Abunaw who recently received a multi-million dollar grant from the city of Chicago to advance her business.
Although Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs, when it comes to securing capital for their ventures they’re faced with barriers that stem from an unleveled playing field. Research shows they receive a mere 0.27 percent of all U.S. VC funding. Despite the odds, women like Abunaw are rising above the inequities and charting transformative paths in the realm of entrepreneurship.
Created in 2018, the Forty Acres Fresh Market—that serves the city’s West Side community—was launched to address Chicago’s food deserts by ensuring there is access to nutritional options in underserved neighborhoods. The Food Empowerment Project reported over 500,000 Chicagoans live in areas that lacked grocery stores with fresh produce. Forty Acres Fresh Market hosts pop-up events and offers daily delivery and subscription programs. Through the Chicago Recovery Plan, Abunaw’s business was awarded $2.5 million. She plans to use the funds to convert the mobile market into a brick-and-mortar store.
Abunaw is excited about the expansion and looks forward to continuing to provide resources for her local community. “It’s things like that, that meet people where they are, that benefits the communities that need it most,” she told CBS Chicago. “The emphasis is going to be on the store perimeter of meat, produce, and prepared food; because the freshness is what greets you.”
Over the past few years, initiatives centered on food justice have been created throughout Chicago. In 2020, a group of teenagers transformed a liquor store on the city’s West Side into a pop-up fresh food market.