Build, Give Back: Black Business Directory to Highlight Success, Need Support

In August 2020, a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that black-owned businesses were more than twice as likely to close as their white counterparts. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Newtown Florist Club executive director Reverend Rose Johnson said the directory serves as recognition and a reminder to invest in black businesses.

“We have chosen to showcase the full extent of this activity, recognizing that resources for economic development for the African-American community are woefully inadequate,” Johnson said. “The need for financial and technical support, small business incubators, reserves for women and minority-owned businesses, and micro-credit programs is absolutely necessary to give business owners the time and opportunity to develop oneself.”

For Abeba Lemma, owner of A&A Beauty Supply, helping black women find true beauty in their hair — natural or otherwise — is one way she enjoys giving back to her community. The meaning of hair in the black community is multifaceted and has often historically been used to suppress or demean black women. At A&A Supply, all hair from twists, curls, dreads and braids is celebrated.

“It’s a joy, a joy to show someone how beautiful their hair can be, how different colors and styles can be accentuated,” Lemma said. “When I came here from Ethiopia to Hall County (in 1986), I noticed that there was not a place that sold black hair products at an accessible rate or at an affordable price.”

For Lemma, hair is tied to identity and it’s a responsibility she takes seriously.

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