The Network Empowers Black Businesses in Communities
Years before the creation of The Network, I was a founding board member of a group known as the Young Black Professionals, a team of six individuals who worked to create gatherings so that black professionals could network and get to know one another. It was an incredible undertaking that was slow to grow in this market for several reasons. One of the main reasons why there was a lack of participation was that it was hard to identify who the black business owners and professionals were since there were no formal business directories in Horry or Georgetown counties that fit or focused on this category. Young Black Professionals soon dissipated in membership, and the team disbanded and moved on to other projects and ventures in life.
After careful consideration, lots of encouragement from family and close friends, and a great deal of prayer, I stepped out on faith to resurrect what remained of the former professional group. I created the Network, a name whispered from God into my hearing, as a social group on Facebook. Today, The Network has grown from just a few remaining supporters to thousands of members from across the country and the Caribbean Islands.
The vision was to create a viable resource for the economic empowerment of the black and brown community. There are several goals in mind:
to elevate the awareness of the presence and power of black business and commerce along the Grand Strand coastline, inland Horry County, and beyond
to address a need for black business identification and connectivity of resources and talents so that other communities can support and appreciate our contributions to society
to show our intercultural diversity and inclusiveness to foster more equity and acceptance in society
In September 2020, I officially organized The Melanated Business Alliance, LLC to catapult the vision for this black business and professional network into the future with a new public website.
The Network Connects black business owners, young entrepreneurs, black professionals in various industries that are not black-owned, and members from the local community who want to help develop, promote, support, and grow black and brown owned businesses. We are innovators, creators, hustlers on the grind, motivators, game changers, and visionaries. We are teachers, doctors, lawyers, chefs, bakers, hairstylist, bankers, realtors, singers, lawn care professionals - the list goes on and on. We are essential to local, regional, and state economies. We are critical for the development of a sustainable workforce. We are historians, curators, and philanthropists. We are rooted in a shared mission to identify, connect, and empower our communities as we add to the wealth and prosperity of our neighborhoods. It is my hope and prayer that this website will catapult our movement to eliminate the economic gaps that exist as we unify and strengthen black and brown owned businesses.
April D. Garner is the owner of The Melanated Business Alliance, LLC and Founder of The Network social media group on Facebook and The Network Connects website.