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Digital Alliance Guest Post by Ron Busby, President and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers
 
This month, in celebration of Black History month, we commemorate the unstoppable spirits of African American inventors who help lay the foundation for today’s digital revolution.  The son of a former slave, Lewis Howard Latimer, couldn’t have known he was leading us toward a world where lights dim through a voice command when he added carbon filaments to Thomas Edison’s light bulb.  One century later, African American inventor Mark Dean developed hardware allowing computers to connect to printers. Valerie Thomas, a pioneering African American scientist, laid the groundwork for 3-D printing by inventing three-dimensional projections. And Dorothy Vaughan, one of the stories told in the Oscar-nominated movie ‘Hidden Figures’, helped launch some of the first satellites into space by mastering FORTRAN, a prominent computer language program in the 1960s.  

African Americans played a significant role in America’s move towards a digital future, and celebrating that legacy means removing barriers for the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. We can level the playing field for black entrepreneurs and future business leaders like never before with increased access to broadband and wireless technologies.

Ron Busby, President and CEO of the U.S. Black ChambersA successful store no longer requires expensive real estate on a high-trafficked street. You just need a website, a product or service people want to buy, and internet connectivity. You don’t need to fly back and forth to Japan or Johannesburg to meet with potential investors; you just need a virtual conference.

However, a 2014 Pew Research study found that only 62% of African Americans have a broadband connection at home.  And a nationwide poll by Mobile Future also found that significant numbers of African Americans don’t view mobile technology as a means of economic empowerment, with half of the participants saying they did not know anyone who works in the technology industry.

Closing the digital divide is a top issue for the Digital Future Alliance. It’s a complicated problem that requires working with federal and local policymakers, industry leaders, and grassroots organizations towards creative solutions. Ultimately, this work is about lifting barriers and creating opportunities for all.

I’ve seen what can happen beyond those barriers as I travel the country visiting the small businesses who make up the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. I am constantly inspired by my fellow African American entrepreneurs. Young and old, these business leaders are helping lead their communities in job creation and economic growth.

Since 1997, we’ve already seen the number of businesses owned by African American women grow by 322%, making black women the fasting growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. Additionally, from 2007 to 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners found minority-owned firms grew 152 percent. African American entrepreneurs have nearly tripled in these five years, from almost 750,000 to 2.6 million. I’m hopeful these numbers will only continue to grow. Yet, I’m cognizant that African American entrepreneurs face significant access to capital challenges. We’re doing our part to narrow the access to capital gap through our Buy-Black | Bank-Black initiative designed to provide much needed capital to African American entrepreneurs.

Beyond bringing more communities online, businesses and organizations are working to ensure every young African American can pursue an innovative career in technology. For instance, Black Girls Code aims to train one million young African American girls to be innovators in STEM fields by 2040, while Code2040 connects talented minorities with top technology companies, funders, and fellow technologists.

During this Black History Month, let us remember that technology doesn’t only break down barriers and enhance the entrepreneurial spirit of African Americans. More than that, it celebrates and builds on the work of entrepreneurs like Lewis Howard Latimer and so many other African Americans who were innovating long before they had the right to vote.  

Closing the digital divide honors their legacy and means our voices will only be louder in the next digital era.?

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USBC Named 2016 Advocate of the Year 
 
??Buy-Black, Bank-Black: 

USBC Statement on Black History & Black Future
 
The USBC takes great pride in commemorating Black History Month with a tribute that honors Black history and anticipates an even greater Black future.
 
Black History:
 
"The survival of African people away from their ancestral home is one of the great acts of human endurance in the history of the world."-
John Henrik Clarke 
 
The endurance of Black people gave birth to the civil rights movement, ignited the future with the contributions from past & present trailblazers, innovators and entrepreneurs like: Frederick & Charles Patterson, the first African-Americans to manufacture cars, activist Bree Newsome the fearless activist responsible for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house, and countless others who have paved the way.
 
Because contemporary tragedies like those in Charleston, Ferguson, Chicago and many others across the country, it is clear that we must support Black institutions (Black businesses, Black colleges, Black banks, etc.) and build new Black institutions in response to new challenges. The example set by Tulsa's "Black Wall Street" proves to us that when we have a solid economic foundation, we can begin to insulate ourselves from social, economic, and institutional downfall.
 
Black Future:
 
"The economic sustainability of the Black community requires an urgent circulation of money and a collective patronizing of Black-owned businesses & Black banks. Our future depends on it."-Ron Busby
 
Economic sustainability is the core purpose of the USBC Bank-Black Credit Card initiative. We're proud to say our Bank-Black credit card initiative is making an economic impact in the Black community by providing much needed funding to Black entrepreneurs and individuals. This Black History Month we will be highlighting the economic impact of our initiative and showcasing our Bank-Black advocates.
 
Here at the USBC we're doing our part to support the economic development of the Black community by focusing on providing funding to help Black entrepreneurs and individuals grow Black-owned enterprises. 
 
As we honor Black History month we encourage you to do your part to make a positive economic impact in the Black community by supporting Black-owned businesses. Without question, your actions today become part of tomorrow's Black History!
Make An Economic Impact:
Buy-Black | Bank Black

 

USBC's Bank-Black Success Story
 
 
"It is critical that we all do our part to ensure that Bank
Black is not just a cute slogan, but is in fact an important first step in changing the economic future of Black communities nationwide."
-
Charles O'Neal, President of 
the Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce, USBC Board Member, Bank-Black Card recipient.
President of 
the Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce
Joins USBC's Bank-Black Initiative
Charles O'Neal is a USBC Board Member and President of the the Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce and was responsible for executing the mission of the nation's oldest and largest African American chamber of commerce.  In addition to serving for 14 years as the Chamber's Vice President for Business & Economic Development, O'Neal has a long history of involvement in the Dallas community. 
 
Recently Mr. O'Neal applied and was approved for the USBC Bank-Black Credit Card. When asked about the importance of the Bank-Black Card, here's what Mr. O'Neal had to say:
 
"Access to capital is #1 in USBC's 5 Pillars of Service. Since our first day of operation we've been working to find ways to increase the availability of capital for America's Black-owned businesses. The U.S. Black Chambers created a program that represents a breakthrough for Black chambers and our members nationwide."
 
The USBC's Bank-Black program gives African American Chambers of Commerce an opportunity to provide their members with access to funding. African American Chambers of Commerce are encouraged to become USBC Bank-Black affiliates. To learn about becoming an affiliate, send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line "Bank-Black Affiliate."  
 
Access to capital remains the #1 issue for Black entrepreneurs. To remedy this, the USBC's Bank-Black Credit Card is designed to help Black entrepreneurs obtain capital for personal or business use. When asked about the access to capital challenge facing many Black business owners, here's what Mr. O'Neal had to say:
 
"The USBC's Bank-Black card has relieved some of  the access-to-capital barrier and made it less difficult for Black business owners to overcome the credit hurdle."
 
The USBC's Bank-Black initiative serves as a resource for African American Chambers of Commerce, and  continues to help Black business owners access much needed funds for business or personal use.
 
 


Congratulations USBC Member:
BOAZ Enterprises on your Google Contract!
 
LaTonya J. Pegues
CEO of BOAZ Enterprises & USBC Member
Austin, Texas based Public & Media Relations, Marketing, Training, & Consulting Firm. 
U.S. Black Chambers Continues to Create
Opportunities for its Members
 
Washington, DC-- U.S. Black Chambers' member LaTonya Pegues attended the USBC's Annual Policy Breakfast held at Google's Washington, DC office during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislation Conference and walked away with a rewarding contract from Google.
 
While attending USBC's Annual Policy Breakfast, LaTonya met one of USBC's Google partners and began to discuss business opportunities. As a small business owner, LaTonya was no stranger to Google's small business resources. Under LaTonya's leadership, her organizational development, communications, and international consulting firm was a member of the inaugural Accelerate with Google Academy graduating class of 2014. During that time, LaTonya was also one of the first small businesses to register in the Google Small Business Supplier Diversity program.

As a member of USBC, LaTonya was able to leverage her membership to gain access to senior staff at Google. While networking at USBC's Annual Policy Breakfast, LaTonya was able to meet key decision makers needed to secure a sizable contract. 

"The U.S. Black Chambers does an excellent job of providing its members with access to key players. As a member of USBC, I've leveraged USBC's resources and networking opportunities to grow my business. I'm thankful and excited to work with one of the nation's largest tech companies-- Google."
 
On behalf of the USBC President Ron Busby congratulations to both parties!  
 
Become a Member Today!
 
Learn more about the U.S. Black Chambers Membership by visiting: www.usblackchambers.org/join-now

USBC's Bank-Black Card Has Been Instrumental 
 
The USBC's Credit Card has been instrumental in facilitating the financial management of our small firm as we enter an expansion phase in our business development. 
-Aimee D. Griffin, Esq., The Griffin Firm, PLLC
Banking-Black Supports Our Mission of Economic Empowerment
 
As an original incorporator of the U.S. Black Chambers, Attorney Aimee Griffin has fought for economic justice for people who have been denied access and opportunity. Aimee Griffin, Esq., has committed her life to working with individuals and businesses to create wealth and maintain it through business and estate planning.  Aimee is the principle at the Griffin Firm, PLLC where she works closely with individuals to help them become successful business owners.
 
For Aimee, banking Black is about economic empowerment. When asked why she decided to Bank-Black, here's what she had to say:
 
"We pride ourselves on developing synergies and promoting entrepreneurial talents among individuals and business entities. Most importantly, our estate planning firm prides itself on promoting economic empowerment tools that support Black communities. We are proud to be associated with The Bank-Black card because of the empowerment that is symbolizes."
 
The USBC's Bank-Black initiative has helped entrepreneurs expand their business and has helped individuals reduce personal debt. One of the USBC's core pillars is access to capital, the USBC's Bank-Black initiative serves as a platform to help Black entrepreneurs and individuals secure credit. When asked about the impact of the USBC's Bank-Black initiative, here's what Aimee had to say:
 
"As a member of the Board of Directors for the U.S. Black Chambers, we have continuously discussed ways in which we can collaborate not just for the good of Black banks but for economic empowerment of Black business owners. The USBC's Bank-Black initiative is a clear win-win." 
 
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Learn more about the U.S. Black Chambers Bank Card by visiting: www.USBlackChambers.org/bankblack
 
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