LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Louisville Urban League unveiled its newest program, the Center For Entrepreneurship, at the Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center Monday.
The center will provide resources like marketing, financial, and legal support to black entrepreneurs in Louisville. The city of Louisville has also pledged $3 million to support its mission.
“We’ve been working with partners across the city to help create one door for black businesses to be able to go through,” Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, said.
Since its soft launch in January, the League has helped around 150 businesses through this program.
“What we’ve seen in our community is less than 2.4% of the businesses in our city are owned by people of color,” Reynolds said. “The Black population is about 24% so we are working to increase those numbers, working to build Black businesses to make them stronger.”
Reynolds adds this center wouldn’t be possible without the help of other organizations and community partnerships. The center will work with places like AMPED Russell Technology Business Incubator, Buy Black Lou, and the Small Business Development Center to provide resources to entrepreneurs.
MELANnaire Marketplace is also involved. The marketplace is a retail space which helps Black entrepreneurs scale up their businesses.
“We are going to be able to scale up their business, take it to the next level. Taking it from the hobby mode to the hustle, to the ‘Hey, come to my pop-up shop,’” Nachand Trabue, founder and CEO of MELANnaire Marketplace, said.
The idea for the MELANnaire came out of the pandemic when entrepreneurs needed somewhere to sell. It has since expanded to multiple locations across Louisville. Traube says spaces like these are so important to a business owner’s success.
“There is so much to learn about having a brick and mortar so why not have an incubator space and be in the same space with other amazing entrepreneurs and you all can learn from each other, empower each other, grow together and spend with each other,” Traube said.
Entrepreneurial centers have been set up in other parts of the county, but this will be a first for Louisville.
“If you think about what this has grown out of, you know growing out of a pandemic and civil unrest for people to really recognize the needs in our community, I think it’s a big deal,” Reynolds said.
Leaders with the Louisville Urban League say they are looking for volunteers to help the next generation of business owners.