About the Athene Black & Brown Business Summit

The Athene Black & Brown Business Summit was created by national stakeholders to elevate ethnic minorities and bring BIPOC businesses together to assist with connection building, programming, promotion, training, and to provide resources to help businesses grow and prosper.

The third annual Athene Black & Brown Business Summit, held April 20 and 21, will bring everyone from entrepreneurs to seasoned professionals together in a hybrid setting at Athene (7700 Mills Civic Pkwy) in West Des Moines, Iowa. The Summit includes a pitch competition, breakout sessions led by top experts, Mel Essex Award, inspirational keynote speakers and more. Our goal is to help advance the minority business community across the country and position Iowa as the best place in the nation to start and lead a minority business.


The Athene Black and Brown Business Summit is presented by

2023 Pitch Competition

Brought to you by our Exclusive Pitch Competition Partner

Our 2022 Speakers

View our impressive lineup of pitch competition mentors and judges, expert panelists and keynote speakers below!

2022 Vendor Fair

Browse our virtual vendors for the 2022 event here!

How Iowa Ranks

In number of women-owned businesses

The worst state for minority businesses, with only one minority owned business for every 43 minority residents.

A 2014 Bloomberg Businessweek study
National average of minority self-employed people25.6%
Iowa average5.1%

Download a list of financial resources in West Des Moines and across the state here.

How the Nation Ranks

According to the most recent Census Bureau data available, Black people comprise approximately 14.2% of the U.S. population, however, Black businesses comprise only 2.2% of the nation’s 5.7 million employer businesses (firms with more than one employee). Click here to learn more from the Brookings Institution. 

Learn more about COVID-19’s effect on minority-owned small businesses in the United States according to McKinsey & Company, and additional ways you can help. 

Thank you to Summit sponsors and key partners that help make this important event possible:

Naming Rights Sponsor

Presenting Sponsor

Exclusive Pitch Competition Partner

Partner Sponsors

Advocate Sponsors

Spotlight Sponsors

Supporting Sponsors

Champion Sponsors

Government Support Partner

Nonprofit Sponsors

Event Partners

Questions? Reach out to Katherine Harrington, WDM Chamber President and CEO, or the Summit planning committee:

Katherine Harrington

WDM Chamber

Angela Jackson  Chair


Terrence Thames

Cocoa Creative Agency

Bobbi Segura

Women Lead Change

Jennifer Smith

S&S Employment Partners