Overcoming Obstacles

Local resources for minority business owners


Starting a business takes a leap of faith and lots of support. For women, especially women of color, systemic barriers continue to make an impact on how many of them can launch and grow a successful business.

“Black business owners face economic, market, sociocultural, and institutional barriers, which are all linked to racial discrimination in the United States,” states an article from management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

The article suggests that the “right business ecosystems can mitigate or negate the effects of structural obstacles to business building for black business owners.”

Access to business networks and skill development are some solutions that can help. See some local resources below with the goal of providing learning opportunities and access to resources for minorities.


One of the pillars that make up YWCA of Lower Cape Fear is its mission to provide economic advancement for women. This includes is New Choices class which aims to empower women to make informed financial decisions, provide financial fundamentals, help aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with business goals, and connect job seekers with skills.

In addition, it provides workforce development and training through its hands-on program YWCA Strive, access to its Living the Dream Center for Entrepreneurship, and its Moving Ahead Curriculum for financial freedom.

Genesis Block

Local business development firm Genesis Block was founded with the mission to promote minority and women entrepreneurs in the region. The organization provides co-working spaces and workshops, as well as a platform for connecting minority and women-owned businesses to potential contractors.

Its entrepreneur academy includes the Basics of Business program, Jumpstart Academy, and Wits Begin Incubator.

It also has a minority business accelerator, Back on the Block, where selected companies go through an intensive 16-week skills program and get access to mentorship, shared space, networking, and capital access.

Three Ladies in Wilmington

3LW is a local resource for Black professionals. While not directly aimed at business owners, the organization can be a key connection for professionals seeking to venture out on their own through people connections or support from the community.

The three ladies of 3LW are founders SHERI SHAW, assistant dean for student success at UNCW; CONSTANCE FOREMAN, a family medicine doctor with NHRMC Physician Group; and CRYSTAL PELLOM, director of diversity and inclusion for Coastal Horizons and founder of MMHP (Minority Mental Health Professionals).

The group especially seeks to provide support for those who are new to the region and hosts events, networking opportunities, and more. The group hosts a DenimDay Party on May 21 at Coglin’s in Wilmington.

Live Oak Bank Small Business Center

Coming this fall to downtown Wilmington is a new, inclusive initiative from Live Oak Bank. Led by CHAKEMA CLINTON-QUINTANA and JAMAR JENKINS, the center will serve underserved communities including small business owners and entrepreneurs.

The center, at 16 Market Street, will provide many capital solutions including microloans, SBA loans, and grant programs.

“If our new center can play a part in helping entrepreneurs succeed in our town, then we want to be part of those efforts to create a new measure of economic success,” Clinton-Quintana says in a previous WILMA story.

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Categories: Women to Watch