There have been many attempts at establishing a National Black Chamber of Commerce. The forerunner to the NBCC was the National Negro Business League which was developed by visionary Booker T. Washington and funded by Andrew Carnegie. The business league was a coalition of 40 southern towns with business associations serving the needs of segregated establishments in Black neighborhoods. Beginning in the 1950’s one failed attempt after another was made at establishing a national network of chambers dedicated to the needs and advocacy of Black owned businesses. The National Negro Business League became dormant beginning in the 1920’s and was reestablished in 1991 as the National Business League with approximately 16 chapters.
In 1989, Harry C. Alford began working as Deputy Commissioner for Minority Business Development for the State of Indiana. It was during this brief tenure that he noticed that every ethnic segment of America had a national business association representing its economic interests and promoting “fair play” for its constituents. That is every ethnic segment but African Americans. He noticed that the great Civil Rights Struggle had succeeded and that America from a Black perspective was at a crossroads: Do we continue with the social fix or do we become adept at capitalistic activity which drives this nation and is, in fact, its pedigree. After studying the writings of such economic advocates like Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglas, Theodore Cross and others, Harry dedicated himself to making a National Black Chamber of Commerce a reality.
The first step would be to establish a local chamber (1991) – one that could be used as a prototype for the newcomers. Subsisting solely off his wife’s, Kay, salary the mission began. The establishment of the Hoosier Minority Chamber of Commerce was well received by the African American business community but severely resisted from mainstream groups and traditional Black circles such as civil rights, political, social, etc. There was actually a formal meeting held at the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce to see if there was a legal means to prevent such an organization from forming.
At the beginning of the Hoosier Minority Chamber of Commerce, Indianapolis had an atmosphere for Black business that was less than “Americana”. There wasn’t a Black contractor who could bond a million dollar job. There were no Black attorneys registered in the investment services “Red Book”. The Black owned businesses of Indiana were doing less than 1% of government contracts and there was total reticence for their plight. The US Census claimed Indianapolis to be one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Within two years Indianapolis became a model for Black business development. Representation was evident at all levels of construction, service and products. Three “Red Book” candidate law firms, 5 construction companies capable of multi-million dollar bids, CPA’s, realtors and other professions doing work like never before. Today, Indianapolis is considered one of the most diverse cities in the nation.
Leveraging from the above success, Harry and Kay incorporated the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. in Washington, DC in May, 1993. The “brick and mortar” office was established September, 1994. From the original 14 chapters the NBCC has grown to over 200 chapters located in 40 states and 50 nations. It is the largest Black business association in the world. The NBCC is driven by a formal Board of Directors with a Strategic Plan and ongoing Business Agenda. It is the sole organization that visits Capitol Hill with an agenda dedicated to the development and interests of Black entrepreneurs. Harry is a noted speaker on important business issues such as taxation, public policy, regulation, trade, environmental justice and corporate responsibility. As an ultimate complement, Harry was elected to the Board of Directors of the US Chamber of Commerce in November, 2001. After 7 re-elections he is also Chair of the Government Oversight and Consumer Affairs Committee.
There are approximately 151 active chapters in the United States, 40 are in the developmental stage and 50 chapters are off shore. Individual chapters govern themselves and are merely a federation of self governing, dues paying entities. The NBCC holds an annual convention and the 23rd annual convention will be held in Miami, FL during July 2015. Such topics as implementation of Section 3 of the HUD Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, environmental policy, capital access and international trade will be discussed.
The National Black Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African-American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity within the US and via interaction with the African Diaspora. The NBCC is a 501©3 corporation.
The National Black Chamber of Commerce® is dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity within the United States and via interaction with the Black Diaspora.
The National Black Chamber of Commerce® was incorporated in Washington, DC in March 1993.
The NBCC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian organization dedicated to the economic empowerment of African American communities. 140 affiliated chapters are locally based throughout the nation as well as international affiliate chapters based in Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, France, Botswana, Cameroon and Jamaica and businesses as well as individuals who may have chosen to be direct members with the national office.
In essence, the NBCC is a 501(c)3 corporation that is on the leading edge of educating and training Black communities on the need to participate vigorously in this great capitalistic society known as America.
The NBCC reaches 100,000 Black owned businesses. There are 2.6 million Black owned businesses in the United States. Black businesses account for over $138 billion in revenue each year according to the US Bureau of Census. The National Black Chamber of Commerce® is dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity within the United States.
GOAL #1 To increase business development and growth via procurement, capital access and international trade.
Planned Activity #1 Secure partnerships with committed corporations and ensure compliance with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at federal, state and local governments and also with prime contractors.
Constraints: Old existing formats for outreach at corporate level. An atmosphere of noncompliance at the government level. Downsizing and a lack of attention by upper management.
Solutions: Create useable website directories for e-commerce and recruiting. Organize and host President Club receptions around the nation. Local market analysis to identify direct opportunities for affiliated chapters (follow up important). Also, to secure partnerships and Memorandums of Understanding with federal agencies, US Chamber of Commerce and other organizations or institutions of mutual interest.
Planned Activity #2 Opening the doors to capital access.
Constraints: Unreadiness or inexperience to pursue new markets by the banking establishment. A lack of knowledge about the existing programs by Black business owners.
Solutions: Marketing viable bank products to the ignored community. Using our website to broadcast information about the outreach programs. Agreements with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the US Department of Agriculture concerning the, promotion of their special programs.
Planned Activity #3 Create initiatives and programs with our foreign counterparts.
Constraints: No present ties or communications have been established. Prohibitive costs of travel to foreign sites.
Solutions: Establish links on our website to foreign counterparts, Package affordable trade missions to target locations. Establish a "one stop" trade office at the NBCC National Office for technical assistance and information about international trade.
GOAL #2 To provide entities to fund and guide our programs.
Planned Activity #1 Annual Convention.
Constraints: Tight and decreasing budgets of potential sponsors. Lack of recognizing importance of event by affiliated chapters and direct members.
Solutions: Early marketing and presentations to all potential sponsors. Promote and ensure maximum attendance by affiliated chapters and direct members.
Planned Activity #2 Specify and market membership levels.
Constraints: Confusion as to applicable membership level. Lack of knowledge concerning membership benefits for each level.
Solutions: Detailed explanation of levels and properly market the benefits. Usage of website for broadcast marketing. Levels to include President Club, Small Business, Corporation, Affiliate, Corporate Advisory Council, and Nonprofit Association.
Planned Activity #3 Secure monitoring and recruiting project agreements (i.e. stadiums, airports, and major institutions).
Constraints: Local political opposition. Ignorance to the need or benefit. Inability of local affiliate to perform.
Solution: Local affiliate encouragement and awareness of benefits - higher minority business and labor participation. Technical support from National Office to assist in performance of agreements.
GOAL #3 Educate and train the masses on Black business development and our purpose to benefit society.
Planned Activity #1 Provide outreach to Black organizations and the communities per se.
Constraints: Lack of understanding capitalism in Black communities. Too much reliance on social improvements and political action.
Solutions: Proper use of website. Direct contact with Black organizations. Fully establish Collegiate Chapter network and implement the BBX program.
Planned Activity #2 Market the NBCC through the Media (editorials, radio, TV, press releases, newsletters).
Constraints: Mainstream media does not equate Black business issues with regular business. Black media doesn't thoroughly understand the importance of capitalism.
Solution: Exploit Black media access to the point of mainstream attention and then drive both mediums. Local and regional conferences of related organizations and local affiliates. Produce CD's of speeches by board members and videotapes for distribution to public radio and television.
GOAL #4 Provide technical support to affiliated chapters.
Planned Activity #1 Give assistance in tailoring local Strategic Plans.
Constraint: Chapters not convinced of the value of a Strategic Plan.
Solution: Note successes of chapters who take advantage of a Strategic Plan. Show the success of the National Office.
Planned Activity #2 Monitoring and enforcement of model projects.
Constraint: Lack of recognition of the acclaimed models.
Solution: Direct involvement by National Office. Illustrating the successes of models by other affiliated chapters.
Planned Activity #3 Assist affiliated chapters in website readiness.
Constraint: Timidity towards high tech activities.
Solution: Provide selected pro - bono, services. Set up links between all affiliated chapters and the National Office.
4400 Jenifer St NW Suite 331
Washington DC, 20015
Harry C. Alford
President & CEO