by Kristen Broussard, Contributing Editor
Since receiving the grant from the 400 Years of African American History Commission, we have made steady progress. Aligned with our efforts to develop a curriculum chronicling the economic success story of Tulsa’s original “Black Wall Street” (BWS) in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, we have appointed our new program manager and shared efforts during the national Black Doctoral Network (BDN).
When considering the tremendous financial achievements within BWS before the historical Tulsa massacre in 1921, our project uncovered several apparent themes from that era that produced massive entrepreneurial success and best practices for community and economic development: access, collaboration, education, health, communication, and ownership.
Starting a business involves access to resources. Black business owners, particularly Black women entrepreneurs, may lack access to credit and essential information due to exclusion. Within BWS, there were business inception loans. Access like this afforded a platform to fuel the economic mecca – social interdependence, community reinvestment, and land ownership.
Another significant aspect was collaboration. Business owners worked together to sustain a cluster of small to medium-sized businesses circulating community money within the region for an estimated 30-100 cycles. It was consistent efforts like these that were key to a sustainable local economy.
It’s been said that education is the key to turn a weakness into a strength. It offers different tools and ways to explore and solve problems. Knowledge combined with action supports improved decision-making capabilities. BWS experienced a superior education system; a true example of how communities can flourish as people are vested in their surroundings and improving their situations as well as others, helping to build a better place for all.
Healthcare was another critical factor. Within BWS, there was a community hospital providing security and support for Greenwood District residents. According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, living healthy lifestyles holds an important place in the quality of human capital. The increased expenditure in healthcare increases human capital productivity, thus making a positive contribution to economic growth – supporting a flourishing society.
Communication is essential to a community and business in order to educate and create awareness. BWS had a robust communication structure through the circulation of two newspapers that included local stories and national issues. Ultimately, communication provides greater understanding and increases interaction that supports the alignment of values while offering different perspectives.
Finally, within BWS, there existed ownership through land resources, farm-sourced grocery store, America’s largest black-owned luxury hotel, a community hospital, and newspapers that thrived despite poor economic times. BWS experienced not only financial rewards and consistent opportunities for growth and development but also personal satisfaction due to community wealth-building strategies.
Through a consistent and dedicated approach, an entrepreneur would most likely be interested in and can benefit by applying these themes and strengthening their business on myriad levels. Reflecting on the BWS business blueprint, Table SALT Group focuses on taking businesses from possible to profitable through our Business Quad Squad strategy. Contact us to help you apply these best practices and develop a tailored plan today!