Economic Equity

Entrepreneurs of African Descent

In the City of Buffalo, people of African Descent experience systematic oppression. Entrepreneurs of African Descent are working to create and sustain black businesses that specialize in efficiency and accountability to empower our community.

We must generate growth without falling into the trap of gentrification. This means we must commit to innovative strategies that generate growth during a time of economic downturn and high unemployment. In the current system, impoverished communities lack resources like grocery stores and other businesses that other communities can access. Bringing businesses from outside the community to “revitalize” it syphons the wealth they generate away from the community. As the neighborhood gentrifies, its citizens eventually find themselves pushed out. This standard approach is not the answer. Instead we believe that marginalized communities need to own our own businesses. As these businesses succeed, the community will be able to grow and flourish.

Co-operatives are one strategy based on fairness, democracy, and equality. The co-operative business model has a global track record of helping communities become sustainable and achieving more equitable distributions of wealth. They also provide economic opportunities for young people, especially people of African descent, which are sorely lacking in Buffalo.

Through building and establishing Entrepreneurs of African Descent in Buffalo, we are working to create a sustainable economic ecosystem of firms, factors markets, households, and goods markets. By creating a self-sustaining ecosystem in the Black communities of Buffalo, we are bringing social and economic power back into those areas.

 

Community Reinvestment

Economic equity requires big businesses and regional economic powerhouses like banks to reinvest in the community. VOICE-Buffalo is partnering with the Buffalo Niagara Community Reinvestment Coalition and other allies in the area to ensure that our regional economy is more accessible to all.

Together with our allies NOAH, PUSH, the WNY Law Center, and the BNCRC, in 2016-2017 we secured a historic Community Benefits Agreement with KeyBank. This landmark agreement includes a commitment to establish a full service banking center on the East Side of Buffalo and to provide increased language services to West Side residents, as well as millions of dollars in increase resources to serve low-income communities.

In 2017, we secured another landmark Community Benefits Agreement with Northwest Bank, which pledged $102 Million for community lending and investment in the Buffalo Niagara Region.

If you would like to get involved in this work, contact Whitney Walker at whitney@voicebuffalo.org.