A Black woman business advocate is traveling around the country — with the assistance of a giant clothing company — to promote African American women-owned businesses to uplift those who wish to fulfill a purpose in life and help others along the way.
H&M USA has teamed up with Atlanta’s Nikki Porcher, founder of Buy from a Black Woman, to push entrepreneurship among women of color. The campaign has taken place for a few years and has driven over $2.7 million in revenue and grown their online community and supporters to over 200,000 allies. Porcher, traveling with a small group of supporters, has been to the District, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Houston, and Los Angeles as well as Porcher’s home, Atlanta. Porcher’s appearances, called the “Inspire Tour,” focuses on Black women-owned businesses in the toured cities, rallies communities to shop from local vendors and serve as a network tool for entrepreneurs.
“The Inspire Tour highlights Black women business owners who are finding, owning and living out their ambitions,” said Porcher. “Their stories of triumph over adversity showcase the victories in their communities, which inspires both entrepreneurs and consumers who dare to want more to keep reaching for their dreams.”
Porcher pursues the tour this summer as a recent study from JP Morgan reveals Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country with 2.7 million enterprises.
Between 2014 to 2019, businesses owned by Black women grew 50% which was the highest growth rate of any female demographic. Nevertheless, the report said access to capital is the main hurdle for Black women entrepreneurs expanding and funding their operations.
Porcher, a New Jersey native who served nine years in the U.S. Air Force and went to college in Philadelphia, founded Buy From a Black Women, a nonprofit, in 2016. She decided to start a tour to help African American women entrepreneurs.
“In July 2018, I was thinking on my birthday ‘what keeps me going,’” she said. “Empowering Black women. I thought the best way to empower Black women was to promote Black women businesses. So, I got in my car and traveled around the country finding and working with Black women businesses and encouraging people to [patronize] them.”
Porcher’s efforts caught the attention of H&M and she and company officials decided to collaborate in 2021. Since partnering with H&M, they have hosted over 100 workshops and training for Black women entrepreneurs, awarded 45 business grants, helped more than 20 business owners through hardship with the Relief Fund stipend and assisted more than 30 African American women elevate their firms through accelerator programs. Plus, the collaboration has helped 15 founders receive their Minority Business Enterprise certification.
“H&M is committed to using its platform to promote economic inclusion and spark growth for Black women entrepreneurs, because when their businesses flourish, entire communities thrive,” said Donna Dozier Gordon, head of Inclusion and Diversity for H&M Region Americas. “Nikki Porcher has been instrumental in elevating these incredible businesses, ensuring they are poised for long-term success, and we are proud to stand with her and Buy From a Black Woman to make lasting change.”
H&M and Porcher have also partnered to create a Black Woman’s Accelerator and grant program for business owners ready to be certified as minority-owned businesses, the Holiday Market in addition to the Inspire Tour.
Porcher, in an interview at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the District on July 19, encouraged Black women to pursue entrepreneurship but do so in a deliberate way.
“Do your research,” she said. “Black women need to ask themselves can they work 14-hour days, sometimes not pay themselves and sacrifice time with family and friends to run a business. If they cannot do those things, they should reconsider entrepreneurship. If they can, I would advise them to go for it.”
Porcher realizes that Black women are often bombarded with images of success stories but encourages people to create their own narrative.
“Don’t worry about being the next Sheila Johnson or Oprah Winfrey, be the next you,” she said. “Don’t worry about what others are doing. Worry about what you are doing.”