New column focuses on Black businesses

Today’s Entrepreneur
by Ste Brown

The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder has provided a platform by which we can help community members see more clearly what is at stake and how area minority entrepreneurs are doing in this depressed economy. While shining a spotlight on local entrepreneurs, we hope to increase readership. In addition, the articles may provide creative solutions to help you find your way out of this economic crisis.

Brief history

According to U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, “Minority-owned businesses have been growing in number of firms, gross receipts and paid employment, at a faster pace than non-minority firms. While paid employment grew by four percent among minority-owned firms, it declined by seven percent among non-minority firms during this period.

“However, without adequate capital minority-owned firms will fail to realize their full potential. If minority-owned firms would have reached parity with the representation of minorities in the U.S. population in 2004, these firms would have employed over 16.1 million workers, grossed over $2.5 trillion in receipts, and numbered 6.5 million firms. Increasing the flow of capital for minority-owned businesses must be a national priority to re-energize the U.S. economy and increase competitiveness in the global marketplace.”

Recommended reading

Bernal Smith II, author of African-American Dollar, noted some interesting statistics in his book. In a capitalist economy, financial resources and wherewithal are critical to investing in those things that give people greater choices and an opportunity.

The global perspective

“From a global perspective,” Bernal states, “the United States was the leading country in the world for total annual GNI in 2008, with $14.5 trillion. The second leading nation was Japan at $4.9 trillion.”

How does Black America compare if considered as an independent nation?

“Extrapolating the annual income of African Americans from the overall U.S. income, Black America generated $803 billion in GNI in 2008, up from $441 billion in 1998. That represents good and bad news,” according to Bernal. “With $803 billion in GNI, Black America is the 17th most significant economy in the world, only slightly behind Australia and the Netherlands, making African Americans a significant and easily accessible market for domestic and foreign corporate investment.

“The GNI of Black America is more than $110 billion higher than the next country on the list, Turkey, and significantly higher than countries such as Belgium, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa (the only African nation in the top 30).”

‘Today’s Entrepreneur’ spotlights Alexander and Sarah Topoh

Company: American Love Drive for Africa, 3300 County Road 10, Suite 512 K, Brooklyn Center, MN 55429,

Alexander and Sarah are passionate about Liberia. As war refugees they have seen the good, the bad and the ugly that Liberia has to offer. Alexander was assigned by the United Nations as a teacher for camp refugees and has received quite a few accolades for his efforts. Sarah helped the young women protect themselves from the predatory men that were in the camps. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that is designed to build public toilets and shower facilities starting in Monrovia and working its way throughout the country. They are people of integrity with a wonderful board. They do everything by the book. They simply need a corporate sponsor to help them get their first facility built. Once the first facility is built, they will be able to attract the attention of other major donors and governmental agencies.

This is truly a noble cause. Open defecation is rampant in Liberia, and there simply are not enough toilets for the country. More than 50 percent of Africans suffer from water-related diseases such as cholera and infant diarrhea.

Strengths: The strengths of this corporation are their mission, the existing need in Liberia and their experience. They are passionate about their mission. They have seen, heard, smelled and personally experienced the pain and suffering. They are committed to getting their facilities built for the betterment of Liberia.

Weaknesses: With any minority nonprofit, there is that period of time where you have to “prove yourselves” to the powers that be and overcome negative stereotypes associated with minority businesses.

Financials: In addition to their own resources, they have about $1,500 that they are using to get their program moving forward. This program could really use a corporate sponsor to help them get their programs rolling. Once they get their first facility built, the United Nations will step in and other governmental agencies will support them.

Conclusions: Support this program. This is truly a worthwhile program and operated by people of excellent character. If you are looking for a worthy program, this is it! This program has the passion and the will to see things through.

Ste Brown, M.S., is a corporate consultant who welcomes reader responses to