CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Black business leaders in the Charlottesville and Albemarle area came together to celebrate their success and share their business knowledge at the 2020 Black Business Expo. This year they had to do so online.
For the first time since 2017, Black business owners like Troy Robinson had to get the word out about their companies over Zoom.
Robinson, also known as the host of “In My Humble Opinion” on 101.3 Jamz, is the owner of Order Up, a mobile food cart. He says even though starting a business during COVID-19 may seem daunting, the expo will help entrepreneurs get the help they need.
“If you want to get in, now is the perfect time,” Robinson said.
Many Black-owned business in the area were hit hard by the pandemic, especially those that are fairly new and less well known throughout the community. Expo Co-organizer Ty Cooper says without the expo, people might not know some businesses even exist.
“When it comes down to the Black businesses, what’s you see that’s popular in this town, you’ll see eateries and barbershops and hair salons, things of that nature, but there’s so many other types of businesses that are owned by Black businesses owners," Cooper said.
Participants like Robinson get the chance to showcase their business skills by competing to win thousands of dollars in a business pitch competition. He hopes his newest idea, “Business in a Box," will help entrepreneurs like himself thrive.
“We realize that a lot of people in the Black and Brown community have the knowledge to do the work but they don’t know the business of business," Robinson said. "I put together a team of people that will come in and teach you the business of business. But we also have everything, banks that we use, people to do the paperwork, mentorship, and we build your business.”
Robinson said he hopes people walk away from the expo feeling confident that they can be a business leader in their community.
“Coming to things like this business expo, supporting your own people, supporting people in your community, supporting people that have the same mindset as you can also help you develop the mindset that yes, ‘I can do this,'" Robinson said.