Forbes Builds New Platform To Help Black Entrepreneurs, Business Leaders Thrive

ForbesBLK will drive ‘systemic change in business, culture and society,’ Forbes says.

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in 2020, corporate America made sweeping pledges to financially support the social justice movement that his death ignited and to bring racial diversity to their companies. Since then, the number of Black CEOs leading Fortune 500 firms doubled, from four to eight, to reach a new high water mark.

Meanwhile, seemingly in tandem, Black entrepreneurs have also made strides. Companies with majority Black ownership increased 14 percent, from 124,004 in 2017 to 140,918 in 2020, according to the Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey data analyzed by the Pew Research Center.

Kelly Burton in a panel discussion at Web Summit 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Organization Builds Black Business Ecosystem While Breaking Systemic Barriers To Black Prosperity

While the needle is apparently moving in the right direction, there’s still much work to be done in Black business leadership and ownership. For example, while the number of Black-owned ventures has increased, they still represent just 3 percent of all U.S. firms and only 1 percent of gross revenue.

It’s against that backdrop that Forbes, an international voice for entrepreneurial capitalism known for its lists of billionaires, recently launched ForbesBLK, a community of Black entrepreneurs, professionals, and leaders.

ForbesBLK features networking and mentorship opportunities, invitations to member-only events, and access to thought leadership content via the Forbes YouTube platform, among its benefits.

Since its launch, the community has grown to more than 8,000 members, ForbesBLK community manager Ayisha Mendez told

“ForbesBLK is really a representation of a substantial commitment that Forbes is making to elevate and uplift the voices of Black entrepreneurs and community creators because we're all here to drive systemic change in business, culture and society,” Mendez said.

“But we can't do it alone. We know that it takes the collaborative work that we're all doing together, and through this community, I think we're going to be able to do that.”

Solving The Problem Of Capital Access To Black Entrepreneurs

ForbesBLK is building on the success of For(bes) the Culture, a global network of future leaders of color. It was the official community of inclusion for the Forbes Under 30 franchise and officially became a partner of Forbes in 2019.

Mendez said ForbesBLK sprang from the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit in Detroit.

“I think it was through that experience of seeing so many incredibly talented and successful Black entrepreneurs come together, realizing that we can't just have this one event a year when we're coming together to amplify the work that people are doing. How can we truly create a space where we're elevating, supporting and uplifting each other all year round?” Mendez said, explaining the inspiration for ForbesBLK.

Forbes senior writer Jabari Young serves as ForbesBLK’s editor, overseeing the creation of wide-ranging multimedia content for the platform.

Young told that he has drawn inspiration from “the spirit of Black Wall Street” he experienced during a recent trip to Tulsa, Okla. In 1921, a white mob slaughtered hundreds of residents in the city’s Greenwood neighborhood and set ablaze homes, hotels, theaters, doctor’s offices and other property in the financially prosperous Black community.

“It was truly heartfelt to walk around and see the different businesses that were not only destroyed – that's one side of it – but also the businesses that remain,” Young said, underscoring that there are many untold stories and unexplored topics related to Black business success across the nation.

ForbesBLK leans on the expertise and insights of its diverse 20-member advisory council, which ranges from NBA stars turned entrepreneurs Grant Hill, Roger Mason Jr., and Isiah Thomas to HBCU leaders Morgan State University’s Jacqueline Jones and Howard University’s Ingrid Sturgis, as well as nonprofit executives Nikki Bethel and Terri Broussard Williams. Also playing a key role are the ForbesBLK local leaders who will organize and host events throughout the year.

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