April 22 & 23, 2021 / Hybrid Summit

April 22 - Pitch Competition
April 23 - Education, Inspiration & Awards

LIMITED In-person Tickets Available: $15
Virtual Ticket: $15

About the Summit / #BBBSummit21

The Black and 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 first annual Black and Brown Business Summit will bring everyone from entrepreneurs to seasoned companies together in a hybrid setting at Athene 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 Summit is proud to partner with agencies, corporations, and communities around the nation to provide value for founders, entrepreneurs, and business professionals. Watch for exciting announcements and updates of Summit speakers, panelists and expertsWe hope you can join us in assisting BIPOC organizations with their business acceleration!

Join us during Diversity Week April 12 – 18, 2021 where we will highlight Black & Brown business vendors, their products, services, and unique offerings as another way to support this vital community and help their businesses flourish. 

Onsite event participation is limited. We are following all COVID-19 safety guidance and protocols throughout the Summit. Masks and social distancing are required. Thank you for understanding our effort to keep everyone safe.


The Black and Brown Business Summit is presented by

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%

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. 

Summit Agenda

Networking & Pitch Competition 

  • 7 a.m. – Registration
  • 8 a.m. – Pitch Workshop Featuring Key Experts
  • 11 a.m. – Networking Lunch
  • 12 p.m. – Attendees Refine Pitches & Prepare for Competition
  • 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Pitch Competition & Winner Announcements
  • 6:30 a.m. – Registration
  • 7:30 a.m. – Business Executive Leadership Breakfast
  • 8:45 a.m. – Break
  • 9:00 a.m. – Welcome and Panel Discussion: Building High-Performing Minority Businesses
  • 10:00 a.m. – Break
  • 10:15 a.m. – Breakout Session One: Marketing and Social Media Expert Panel
    • Emerging Entrepreneurs
    • Established Entrepreneurs
  • 11:15 a.m. – Break
  • 11:30 a.m. – Breakout Session Two: Financial and Legal Expert Panel
    • Emerging Entrepreneurs
    • Established Entrepreneurs
  • 12:30 p.m. – Lunch and Break
  • 1:00 p.m. – All Summit Networking
  • 2:00 p.m. – Featured Keynote Speaker 
  • 3:00 p.m. – Minority Business Celebration Featuring: Mel Essex Award Winners, Pitch Competition Recognition and Minority Non-Profit of the Year Award

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

Presenting Sponsor

Partner Sponsor

Advocate Sponsor

Spotlight Sponsors

Supporting Sponsors

Champion Sponsors

Government Sponsor

Nonprofit Sponsors

Event Partners

How do I get involved?

Do you want to learn more about the Black & Brown Business Summit and how you can be involved? Let us know by filling out the below form. We look forward to talking to you soon! 

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 Led Change

Jennifer Smith

S&S Employment Partners