April 22 & 23, 2021 / Hybrid Summit


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

Virtual Ticket: $15
Registration closes at 5 p.m., April 21

About the Summit | #BBBSummit21 | #IA4DEI

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 panelists and expertsWe hope you can join us in assisting BIPOC organizations with their business acceleration!

Head to our social media channels to view our vendors we featured during Diversity Week April 12 – 18, 2021.

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

Our 2021 Speakers

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

2021 Vendor Fair

Learn more about our 2021 vendors, visit their websites and purchase their products/services at the link below!

2021 Black & Brown Business Summit Pitch Competition

Brought to you by our Exclusive Pitch Competition Partner

The pitch competition, to be held the first day of the Summit, will serve as a chance for up to 30 businesses to workshop the way they “pitch” their organization. At the end of the day, 5 to 6 individuals from the workshop will be selected to present their pitch to a panel of judges to win $10,000 in cash prize.

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. 

Summit Agenda

Networking & Pitch Competition – This is only for Pitch Competition applicants to attend in person 

  • 7 a.m. – Registration
  • 8 a.m. – Pitch Workshop Featuring Local 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 – Will be LIVE STREAMED for all attendees to watch virtually

Programming on this day is when all registrants will be live streaming/attending the Summit in person.

Live streamed sessions will also be available in Spanish translation.

  • 6:30 a.m. – Registration for in person attendees
  • 7:30 a.m. – Continental Breakfast & Networking for in person attendees
  • 8:45 a.m. – Break
  • 9:00 a.m. – Welcome & Keynote Speaker Brandon CopelandBuilding High Performing Minority Businesses with Shekinah Young – Global Inclusion Consultant, Principal – LIVE STREAMED
  • 10:00 a.m. – Break
  • 10:15 a.m. – Breakout Session One: Marketing and Social Media Expert Panel  – LIVE STREAMED
    • Emerging Entrepreneurs
    • Established Businesses
  • 11:15 a.m. – Break
  • 11:30 a.m. – Breakout Session Two: Financial and Legal Expert Panel – LIVE STREAMED
    • Emerging Entrepreneurs
    • Established Businesses
  • 12:30 p.m. – Lunch and Break
  • 1:00 p.m. – All Summit Networking for in person attendees 
  • 2:00 p.m. – Keynote George Hererra with Shekinah Young – Global Inclusion Consultant,
    Principal – LIVE STREAMED
  • 3:00 p.m. – Minority Business Celebration Featuring: Mel Essex Award Winners, Pitch Competition Recognition and check presentation to Jewels Academy & NAACP – LIVE STREAMED

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

Presenting Sponsor

Partner Sponsor

Exclusive Pitch Competition Partner

Advocate Sponsors

Spotlight Sponsors

Supporting Sponsors

Champion Sponsors

Government Sponsor

Small Business Resource Hub

Event Partners

T-shirt Fundraiser Sponsors

Support our We Heart Diverse Iowa/West Des Moines fundraiser here. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of t-shirts, wall clings, and pallet signs benefit Jewels Academy and NAACP Des Moines

Jayne Armstrong

Renee Hardman

Katherine Harrington

Rhonda & Mike McCoy

Jeff Neumann

City of West Des Moines Human Rights Commission

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