Noticing a lack of a central organization to aid, mentor and facilitate dialogue among black businesses in Rhode Island, Lisa Ranglin decided the time had come to change that.
The nonprofit Rhode Island Black Business Association officially launched on Oct. 1 with the help of Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, R.I. Economic Development Corporation Director Keith W. Stokes and many other community and business leaders. They all had the same goal in mind – networking with people of color.
“The association was established to close a significant gap which existed in the minority business community,” said Ranglin, founder and president who also is a vice president at Bank of America. “Prior to the formation of Rhode Island Black Business Association there was no other entity in the state that was focused primarily on strengthening black and other minority-owned [businesses].
“Having interacted with many minority-owned businesses I soon realized that for them to be competitive, to grow and to thrive they needed to have a united voice that could propel them to the next level,” she said.
The Rhode Island Black Business Association is not limited to just black businesses, it is open to all business owners, Ranglin said. She also runs a real estate business and is involved with several community organizations.
Members provide financial support to help the association grow and carry out its goals and objectives.
A 12-month membership ranges from $25 for students, $100 for individuals and $250 for businesses with up to 10 employees and $500 for businesses with more than 11 employees. Lifetime memberships are $1,500 for individuals, $5,000 for small businesses and $10,000 for corporations.
Through collaborations and partnerships with other interested entities, the association will provide the resources to minority business owners so they can grow their businesses, which will create jobs in this struggling economy.
“From early black entrepreneurs like George Downing and J.T. Allen to the leading business leaders of today like Cheryl Watkins Snead [president and CEO of North Smithfield-based Banneker Industries], Rhode Island has a long and rich tradition of successful black businessmen and women,” Stokes said. “Programs and organizations like RIBBA dedicated to accelerating the growth and economic empowerment of black and urban-owned businesses through business development, advocacy, quality educational and professional development play a vital role in ensuring that new generations of entrepreneurs can continue to be competitive.”