Facebook Elevate’s Inaugural #BuyBlack Summit Helped Small Businesses Take It To The Next Level
Photo Credit: Facebook / AfroTech

Facebook Elevate’s Inaugural #BuyBlack Summit Helped Small Businesses Take It To The Next Level

Facebook Elevate hosted its inaugural #BuyBlack Summit on Aug. 24 and completely understood the assignment.

Born from an idea for Buy Black Fridays campaigns, the digital #BuyBlack Summit hosted thousands of entrepreneurs from all over the world to equip them with tools and resources to help take their businesses to the next level.

In a time where racial tensions remain high, the summit was a place of hope and advocacy for the sustainability and long-term impact of Black businesses. To best support these entrepreneurs, Facebook Elevate brought together some of the industry’s best and brightest, who translated the state of the market and prepared business owners for success. 

If you weren’t able to participate in the #BuyBlack Summit, check the replay here and read on to dive into some top takeaways from the day.

The Power of Connectivity

#BuyBlack Summit had a live chat where attendees could interact with each other and flex their networking muscle. Entrepreneurs were encouraged to fully dive into this feature, and one of the chat’s biggest advocates was the event’s host, Michelle Buteau. Her comedic presence and positive energy was the perfect way to navigate the sessions and keep attendees engaged.

Come and Talk to Me

Imagine having the chance to speak with one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the world. That’s exactly what #BuyBlack Summit participants did as FUBU founder and celebrity “Shark” Daymond John answered some of Facebook Elevate’s most pressing questions. A key point he shared was the importance of having a strong foundation.

“I don’t care what you’re building in this world, whether it’s a car, a building or a sneaker. If the foundation is weak, it will crumble,” he said.

Registrants also learned how to unlock some unknown opportunities for Black business owners. Ron Busby, CEO of US Black Chambers, Inc, Ayris Scales, CEO of Walker’s Legacy Foundation, and Donald Cravins, COO of the National Urban League, shared specific insight and resources for scaling a business.

Black Is the New Black

It’s no secret that systemic challenges have hindered the vitality of Black-owned businesses. And Facebook is committed to changing that. Sheryl Sandberg, the tech company’s Chief Operating Officer, shared its $100 million investment to support and advocate for Black businesses.

Another piece of this commitment is the work that Facebook Elevate is doing. Exceeding its original impact goal, the group has reached 1M Black and 1M Latinx and Hispanic community members in less than nine months.

During the “Why #BuyBlack” session, Buteau and Irene Walker, Facebook Elevate’s Program Director, talked through the importance of Black Business Month and the diverse ways Black business owners can access additional revenue, educational resources and like-minded communities. “It’s all about ‘Each one teach one.’ If I can teach you, you can teach someone else,” said Walker.

Small Business, Big Money

Consumers are spending more of their dollars in the local economy with a specific interest in Black businesses. Leveraging this increased investment in Black businesses starts with rethinking the strategies and practices for operations. Because of this, Shelly Bell of Black Girl Ventures and Arian Simone of the Fearless Fund joined moderator Jason Trimiew of Facebook to discuss how Black small business owners can secure funding.

“My message to corporate America is that [diversity, equity and inclusion] has to be 360 degrees,” said Simone. Businesses need representation at every level of their organization, from the board of directors to the client-facing specialist. People want to know that diversity is in the very fiber of the organization. It’s this level of authenticity that garners the interest of consumers, the communities being served and investors looking to make an impact.

Community impact is particularly vital to small businesses.

“It is really important that you build relationships with your customers. Because regardless of what happens at this moment, in terms of where the conversation is, you wanna have the relationships with those customers that you can have forever,” said Bell. Registrants learned how to lean into that community engagement by setting up their Facebook and Instagram shops with Tristen Sutton. During this session, Sutton explained the steps of creating product tags, highlighting products from an online catalog and helping customers buy through Stories, Posts, Reels, Live and IGTV.

From Recognition to Takeoff

The year of 2020 was filled with setbacks, but that didn’t stop the resiliency of Black business owners. To recognize their hard work and perseverance, Maxine Williams, the Global Chief Diversity Officer at Facebook, highlighted Black business owners who demonstrated resilience and innovation during the pandemic. 

A global pandemic meant an increase in online shopping, and leveraging their platforms is a sure way for small business owners to navigate that demand. Jamila McGill and Ali Wright from Brooklyn Tea, alongside Nai Packnett from Hair by Nai, rounded out the sessions by discussing how entrepreneurs can turn their platforms into profit.

“Our approach, really, is to be our authentic selves, as much as possible — but also kind of a glossier version of our authentic selves,” said Wright. Summit attendees found strategies and tactics on how to best leverage their personal and professional social media platforms to help their businesses take off.

Entrepreneurs can also leverage Facebook’s designation tool to add a “Black-owned” label to their shop on Facebook and Instagram. With these new features, Facebook aims to make it easier for sellers to communicate the differentiated experience they provide.

The company also recently announced new tools and resources to help small businesses, including ways for diverse businesses to access capital more easily. 

But don’t think the day was all business and no play. What’s a day of grinding without taking a moment to celebrate? After the curated sessions, each participant enjoyed a virtual performance from Grammy-nominated artist Wale.

Facebook Elevate set out to host one of the premier learning and networking events for Black business, and the mission was complete. Attendees left the power-packed sessions with a wealth of information and the potential to create valuable partnerships and collaborations. 

Though the summit’s over, its effect on the culture is lasting. And there’s no need to have FOMO if you couldn’t attend. Check out all the greatness of #BuyBlack Summit by viewing the replay here.

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Facebook Elevate.