Wilmington-based startup incubator tekMountain is investing $50,000 as part of a partnership with Genesis Block, a coworking and collaboration initiative that is developing a technology platform to promote Black entrepreneurs and small businesses.
According to a news release, the new platform will help identify Black-owned businesses regionally, provide collaborative resources and tools for entrepreneurs and provide index information for companies and organizations that want to collaborate with Black-owned businesses.
“The GDP purchasing power of Blacks in the United States is estimated at over 1.25 trillion dollars, but only 2% ($2.4 billion) is spent with Black businesses,” said Genesis Block co-founder Girard Newkirk in the release. “Genesis Block's strategy is to focus on closing this gap through economic development, community collaboration and technology.”
Genesis Block is creating a mobile app to help individuals find local Black-owned businesses, and tekMountain's investment will help Genesis Block build, launch and maintain the app.
"The partnership is part of an ongoing collaboration to assist Genesis Block in developing its innovative new co-working space in historic downtown Wilmington, which is committed to building a diverse entrepreneur class block by block in communities around the country," the release stated.
Girard Newkirk and entrepreneur Tracey Newkirk, Girard Newkirk's wife and co-founder of Genesis Block, leased space at 5 S. Water St.
for the initiative.
For Brett Martin, CEO of tekMountain and CastleBranch, partnering with Genesis Block to build a new generation of Black entrepreneurs aims to help address the city’s long history of racial and economic inequality, the release stated, including the violent 1898 coup d’état.
“Wilmington was once home to a rising middle class of Black entrepreneurs and professionals, but their success was stolen during the 1898 coup,” Martin said in the release. “Until businesses are owned by Black men and women, the wealth of our city will never be felt by the Black community. Genesis Block is on a mission to change that, and together we’ll transform Wilmington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
According to the release, the partnership builds on a collaboration between Genesis Block and tekMountain to train entrepreneurs and small business owners of the future through Genesis Block Entrepreneurship Academy, small business incubators and accelerator programs.
"The goal for the app is to have 1,000 Black businesses in the directory by its launch in the summer of 2020," the release stated.
For more information, visit the Genesis Block Facebook page