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Our Journey

 

Since 2014 BWWA  has engaged Historical Black Women around wealth education and creation. Founder and President Kenya McKnight began researching the economic status of Black women, in that she found exciting and troubling information that revealed the complex realities of Black women. One one hand Black Women were doing well by leading new business starts across America, being promoted into high ranking positions, Influencing American politics by becoming the fastest growing base of voters and being the most educated group in America. On the other hand according to a US Dept of Labor report Black women were leading unemployment among all women, were likely to retire in poverty among all women, hold an average networth between $5-$100, in MN Black women are nearly 80% primary bread winners of their households and the stats continue. The poverty and the wealth Gap in the Black community makes perfect since when we consider the economic struggle and position of Black women.  

In search of solutions to addressing this complex reality McKnight looked for business, agencies, resources and programs that focused on the financial well-being of Black women, McKnight instead came across several professional Black women networks and health n wellness programs and several business development groups, agencies and programs that targeted White, Asian, Hispanic and African (Continent born) and women of color but nothing specific to Historical Black Women. In addition McKnight came across several recent marketing studies that targeted Black females with outlined the Black female's spending habits and growing consumer power. These marketing studies identified the total Black spending power as being more than 1 trillion dollar and offered readers strategies to engage and market to Black women to further extract the Black dollar into markets outside of the Black community.

McKnight felt compelled to engage Black women around the information she found, the economic future of the Black nation and the role Black women can and should play in using their influence to redirecting and retaining the Black dollar to build generational wealth within the Black community.  McKnight organized 20 Black women from the metro areas of Minnesota who then met at McDonald's on West Broadway weekly for six months to discuss their personal financial realities and brainstorm solutions, The Black Women's Business Alliance was created as a working group.

The priorities were to 1. Look deeper into the economic realities of Black Women in MN by creating our own report 2. Create a culturally specific pathway to economic prosperity for Black women 3. To create a learning and building network for Black women to help one another by pooling our resources and knowledge 4. To re-educate black women about our power and the importance of our economic well-being 5. To recreate our own narrative and to infuse our narrative into the MN Women's Economic Security Act networks while pushing for racial equity within the Women's movement where the issues and discussions were centered around white female realities that were very different from the economic struggles and oppression of Black women which were not being acknowledged nor supported. We participated in more than 20 panels and speaking engagements, being at the table was not enough nor our goal, yet educating and empowering other women to become allies and stronger partners in our economic success while we created our own tables was the goal.

in 2016 we finalized Minnesota's very first report on the economic status of Black women. The findings of this report led us to changing our name to The Black Women's Wealth Alliance, we understood much clearer that our focus had to center on Wealth which includes business yet encouraged asset development in our community. We held our first Goal Diggers Seminar to share our findings with Black women. We brought 12 Black women leaders together and over 160 Black women participants to the seminar.

Shortly after we organized 20 Black Women groups and agencies around the " Black Women's and Girls Legislative Package" and " The Black Women and Girls Black Print for Economic Security" and put together 12 proposals in hopes of securing some of the $100 Million Equity funds pledged towards reducing racial equity in Minnesota that would support our existing efforts working with Black women and girls in MN. We were not successful in our attempt, instead the Women and Girls of Color Act was created and put into MN legislation to secure resources in a variety of areas which most were outside of the scope of our focus and the Women's Foundation in partnership with others went on to create the Girls of Color Blue Print. We were discouraged and exhausted from this experience but not defeated, the message was loud and clear, once again there was no clear support nor pathway to support the economic well being of Black women specifically. We refused to give up on ourselves and decided that we would refocus on our original path. 

At the end of the Mn 2016 Legislative session we went back to the drawing board and with the help of Nexus Community Partners and the MN Women's Foundation we began our strategic planning process. We established our first Advisory council, created our cultural wealth building frame work and services, developed our strategies , improved our knowledge, skills and networks around wealth creation and hot the ground running in 2017 pressing forward with our work. Stay tuned for more updates on our 2017 efforts

 
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In this introductory report on the state of Black women economics in Minnesota we provide a more nuanced picture of what issues and challenges Black women are facing. This is essential for institutions like the BWWA who aim to broaden the aspirations and strategies of Black women and girls for the purpose of creating, expanding and sustaining community wealth. We know that the success of the native born African American community of Minnesota greatly depends on the success and economic prosperity of Black Women and we believe that by not having disaggregated data, policies, programming and resources targeting Black Women and Girls is to outright ignore and undermine our economic well-being and to underutilize, devalue our talents and contributions to the economy, culture and viability of Minnesota and America.

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