Helping black-owned business thrive: Vannessa Wade supports black business with her money and her talents.

Author:Ngo, Sheiresa
Position::Wealth For Life

THE BUYING POWER OF BLACK CONSUMERS IS AN ESTIMATED $1 TRILLION AND IS forecast to reach $1.3 trillion by 2017, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth. But that doesn't mean all black consumers think it's necessary to buy black. Some have bought into the myth that products and services provided by people of color are not as good; however, there are still many who feel called to support minority business owners.

One such person is 33-year-old Houston resident Vannessa Wade, who says she was prompted to renew her efforts to support black business after reading the Wealth for Life Principles in BLACK ENTERPRISE.

"I've been reading BLACK ENTERPRISE for years," Wade says. "The principle of giving back to the black business community made me pause and ask, 'What am I doing to help? Financially, how am I supporting those around me?' It made me start seeking out black business owners that I could support. It feels good to know that my dollars are helping to empower and benefit the community."

Wade was also moved to support black businesses because of the way black shoppers are sometimes treated by non-minority store owners. "Sometimes when I shop, and I see the way I'm treated, or the way another customer of color is treated, it makes me think that there has to be a minority store owner who can provide the services I'm seeking," says Wade. Wade spends between $120 and $250 a month with black-owned businesses; she primarily relies on word of mouth when looking for new places to patronize. Wade also keeps an eye out for black businesses while traveling or while walking around her neighborhood. "For me, it's more than just finding a black hair stylist. I want to support black businesses that provide services that I use in my day-to-day life," she says. For example, Wade patronizes black-owned businesses for her banking, car care, and fitness needs.

What's more, Wade takes her support beyond the consumer level and makes an effort to patronize black businesses professionally. When she needed direction for her public relations firm, Connect the Dots PR, she hired a black business coach. She notes whenever she comes across a black business owner during networking events or through professional recommendations.

One example points to her work with Andre Reed, owner of Reed's Printing Solutions in Houston. Wade says she's referred Reed to her clients and friends.

"I was in my first year as a startup," says Reed. "Vannessa has been a blessing by...

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