How this Multi City Expo Helps Black Women Entrepreneurs
In 2017 Aisha Taylor Issah launched the Sistah’s in Business Expo. She said the inspiration for the expo was born out of the need to help black women entrepreneurs where they needed it most.
“I launched the SIB Expo out of a need that I experienced… We created an affordable and accessible platform where women of color could participate, generate revenue, get leads and learn all at the same time… That was the initial thought. I saw a need that I wish I had when I started my own business over twenty years ago.”
The Sistahs in Business Expo is the only multicity expo and community created specifically to celebrate and educate entrepreneur women of color. The founder, achieved this in a four ways, first through their large scale trade shows hosted in various cities around the country. Secondly through the Sistahs in Business University which is the teaching and training arm of her company. Third, there is a non-profit sector of the SIB brand that provides grants to women of color entrepreneurs by way of pitch competitions. Lastly there is the retail and ecommerce piece, called The Sistah Shop. There are currently two shops in operation, one in the Mills at Jersey Gardens Mall in Elizabeth, NJ and the other in Atlantic Station in Atlanta, Georgia.
Aisha said she noticed black women entrepreneurs needed help because although they were leading as the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs they were falling behind in other areas, “…I read an American Express report back in 2017 which stated that women of color were the largest and fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the country. But when I dug a little deeper I learned that we were also the least funded, least earning, and least supported… that didn’t sit well with me so I wanted to do something about it.”
Aisha proceeded to launch her expo which would offer education, training, retail space and grant funding to black women entrepreneurs. Over the years the multicity expo has stopped in NJ, ATL, Philadelphia, DMV, and South Carolina with plans on continued expansion, “…Our goal is to have a Sib Expo and Sistah Shop in every major urban market in the country,” said Aisha. According to Issah the Sistah Shop has helped black women entrepreneurs increase sales and notoriety, “through our Sistah Shop, for many of the brands we are their first experience in retail… We have some brands who have 10x’d their revenue after becoming a part of the Sistah Shop…We had one entrepreneur who is now sold in over 100 grocery stores around the country, and just received her largest grant ever.”
Identifying a void, and creating a solution to service that space, is typically the model for the establishment of many businesses.The Fearless Fund, a black woman led venture capitalist firm that awards financial funding to black women led businesses, also saw the need to service the demographic of Black women entrepreneurs.
The Fearless Fund is a black woman led venture capitalist firm that awards financial funding to black women led businesses. The firm was ordered by the Atlanta based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to halt their efforts in a September 30th ruling. The ruling comes at the result of conservative activist, Ed Blum’s group, American Alliance for Equal Right’s law suit against the fund for violating civil rights. The group claims the Fearless Fund is discriminating against non-black women by only offering their business funding to one specific demographic. This ruling has yet to be lifted.
Aisha weighed in on this court ruling “It’s terrible… it’s unfortunate, but it definitely does not stop us because that’s who we are as black women. We are resilient, and we’ve heard no more times than we can count and those no’s cause encourage us to create the platforms they’re coming against… We will continue to do the work that we’ve been called to do…Either way we’re still going to ride for our sistahs…It’s unfortunate but it is the reality of the world that we live in and another hurdle that we have to overcome…”
It is no secret that funding is essential when attempting to scale a business. In the venture capital world black founders in general receive the least amount. According to Techcrunch.com VC funding totaled about $216 billion in 2022 but only about 1% went to black founders. Any business owner will tell you funding is crucial when your goal is to scale.
As a business owner herself, Aisha states funding is critical, “…funding is extremely important, If you are really looking to scale your brand… Unfortunately as I’ve shared statistically our demographic is the least funded.” Through her non-profit Aisha is able to help service the financial needs of black women entrepreneurs by rewarding them with grants through pitch competitions. Aisha is continuing to do the work of women like Arian Simone of the Fearless Fund by filling the void of helping the least supported yet fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, black women.