TOPEKA (KSNT) – August is National Black Business Month, the month we recognize Black-owned businesses in our community.
Black business owners account for 10% of U.S. businesses and 30% of all minority-owned businesses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that amounts to approximately two million companies owned by African Americans. Nearly 40 percent of black-owned businesses are in health care and social assistance, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services.
In the past few weeks, KSNT event photographer Keith Horinek had the opportunity to meet with Topeka business owners and listen to their stories on how they got started in their businesses, the goals they set for their businesses, why they wanted to be business owners and what it takes to stay in business.
Here are their stories.
- Co-Owner of Haus Properties
- CEO at Infinite Properties LLC
“I’m somewhat of the CEO here. I pretty much help the team and guide them,” Herron said. “I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. When I was a kid, I didn’t know I was an entrepreneur. I was always raking leaves or helping out at the grocery store.”
“I’ve always had a passion for our community. I’ve always wanted to help change our community. As an entrepreneur, your why has to be bigger than the what.” Some of us have a passion for cooking, some for marketing, etc. That passion is the what. That’s the actual thing, but the why has to be so much bigger than the what.” If your why brings you to tears, that’s when you know your why is bigger than your what.”Manny Herron
Haus Properties is a rental management company in Topeka. Click here for more information.
- Co-Owner at Clad Astra
- Sole Contractor at Kalos Print Services
- Co-Owner at Top Teer
“My goal has been to inspire children and young adults. Creativity has been a big part of my life,” Hazim said. “The first time I felt inspiration was when I was six years old watching break dancing. That was something that made me say, ‘This, the inspiration I was feeling, was more than the fear I was feeling.’ So, I was more willing to jump in and learn something and then show it off to people.”
Hazim said his goal is to reconnect people with their creative spirit.
“We offer professional development; we do live events and on demand courses. I’ve been blessed by the community. A lot of people knew who I was and a lot of my success came from my relationships with the community.”S.J. Hazim
Lazone Grays, Jr.
- President and CEO at IBSA, Inc.
“We are a non-profit organization. We provide program services to low-income adults and youths to help them get a job and keep a job,” Lazone Grays, Jr. said. “I saw a need for a different way to provide services to people such as myself.”
“The goal was to create a better platform for the black community to start empowering ourselves, and creating an avenue where students can use an organization to learn as they move into the world.”Lazone Grays, Jr.
Grays said they have onsite job readiness training, teaching office skills, help with computer and tech skills.
“I believe that if you want to convince people to change you have to give a very credible argument,” he said.
IBSA, Inc. provides employment & training services, youth development & community service activities, and small business development & support services.
Click here for more information on IBSA, Inc.
- FirstTee Greater Topeka, CEO
“We are starting out in the 501 schools, and we will eventually have all of Shawnee County and Jackson Counties. Our programs help to introduce kids to the game of golf,” Miller said. “Our programs teach kids confidence, courage, perseverance and core values that they can take with them and develop throughout their lives.”
“Be patient, go with your gut, hold your convictions and be open. Start working on relationships, start making sure people know who you are so people can buy into what you are doing.”Marcus Miller
Miller said FirstTee Greater Topeka strives to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.
Click here for more information on First Tee Greater Topeka.