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'The Collective' program seeks Black-owned businesses to join collaboration

Each member of "The Collective" represents a particular industry in Kentucky tied to producing events.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A new program, "The Collective" is seeking Black entrepreneurs to join its first cohort of businesses that will work together to create "unique cultural experiences" in Louisville while also providing members resources and exposure.

The Global Economic Diversity Development Initiative (GEDDI) announced Thursday the creation of The Collective, which will be a cohort of 10 Black-owned businesses that will work together for 24 months to develop experiences and events that will promote culture while also helping to generate revenue for the participating businesses.

"When people see that you care and you're willing to invest in yourself, they'll eventually want to invest in you too," GEDDI founder Tawana Bain said.

Each member of The Collective represents a particular industry tied into producing events, which include video and photography, public relations and marketing, event coordination, and food and beverage.

One of the newest members, Jacy "Prolific" Jones-Britt, joined Thursday morning. She has run The Prolific Experience, a monthly neo-soul and poetry night, for the last 15 years, using her platform to amplify Black voices that may not otherwise find a large audience.

"A lot of us as people, especially African-American people, we don't get that chance to highlight our talents, our gifts and realize that that's our purpose," she said.

Jones-Britt said just like The Prolific Experience gives Black artists and poets a chance to showcase their talents, The Collective will help her and other Black entrepreneurs grow their businesses as they pool their resources and talents together.

"Not just financially - the knowledge that you'll be able to get from this program is going to be just great," she said.

The Brookings Institute found less than 2.5 percent of businesses in Louisville are Black-owned while Black people make up around 22 percent of the population. Bain and other entrepreneurs say Black-owned businesses often face challenges when it comes to getting resources, funding and marketing, which The Collective will seek to address.

"When organizations really do understand that sometimes things just need to be more simple, we'll get more done," Bain said.

For Jones-Britt, following months of civil unrest with protests continuing both in Louisville and around the country demanding racial justice and equity, the opportunity to join The Collective comes at the perfect time.

"You can speak out against the injustices that are happening to African-Americans by putting on the events that no one else expected you to put on because of the color of your skin," she said. "Okay, you thought you were going toi stop me this way, but look, I came right back around and I still did it in spite of it."

The revenue from ticket sales for The Collective's events will go to the participating businesses. A portion will also go towards an endowment fund that will be available for the members in the future, according to Bain.

The first experience put on by The Collective will be The Black Harvest, a virtual and in-person showcase held on Oct. 24 at Encore on 4th that will highlight new and existing cultural events in Louisville and the surrounding areas. This will also allow attendees, sponsors and vendors to network and identify future events they want to support in the future.

More information can be found at GEDDI's website.

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