Tuesday, June 15, 2021


NEW YORK – NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Jonnel Doris today announced Juneteenth events that the City will begin hosting this month to support Black-owned businesses.

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, honors the self-determination of the federal troops that arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and their commitment to ensuring freedom reached all enslaved Black people. This was achieved after two and a half years of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Five Boro Black Business Forum: The Future Starts Here, is a first-of-its-kind virtual event designed to help the City's Black-owned businesses convene, network, and connect to available City, State, and Federal resources to support and scale their businesses during the City's economic recovery.

"Juneteenth serves as a reminder that freedom and democracy must be followed by action to ensure racial equity," said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Co-Chair of the Racial Inclusion and Equity Taskforce. "This year, the City honors Juneteenth with a lineup of events to ignite the next generation of Black entrepreneurs."

"Black Americans continue to grapple with the legacy of slavery as we face down structural barriers to economic mobility and dignity," said Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. "Our Black Entrepreneurs NYC initiative (BE NYC) is actively working to close the racial wealth gap and support Black-owned businesses. I am excited to see a full agenda of events to honor the Juneteenth anniversary and drive our mission forward."

"Juneteenth celebrates both the physical liberation of Black people in the United States and a broader commitment to economic liberation for this community," said Kenneth Ebie, Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Black Entrepreneurs NYC (BE NYC). "We are excited to launch the Five Boro Black Business Forum and other programs this month to support Black entrepreneurship and a more equitable and inclusive economic future for all."

The Forum seeks to address the four pillars of strategic focus for Black Entrepreneurs NYC (BE NYC) through a series of virtual discussions and informational sessions that address the following needs:

  • Providing equitable access to capital: Programming featuring small business lenders, who will discuss lending opportunities for small businesses during their recovery from the pandemic.
  • Strengthening connections within NYC's Black entrepreneurial community: Opportunities for Black-owned businesses to network and share best practices for marketing and conducting business.
  • Scaling Black businesses for long-term success: Providing information and resources about the City's M/WBE certification and procurement processes.
  • Meeting challenges of the economy of tomorrow: Connecting Black entrepreneurs interested in high-growth and high-priority industries with policymakers and thought leaders in NYC.

“This year, as we celebrate Juneteenth, let us commemorate the many freedoms we fought so hard to achieve including our economic freedom by supporting black businesses," said State Senator James Sanders Jr. "I encourage everyone to attend the many worthy events hosted by the New York City Department of Small Business Services as we work towards economic equality for all people.”

"We have a great opportunity to turn the ashes into beauty, to create the glory beyond the tragic story, and to create a big win for our city's Black business community," said Rev. Dennis Dillon, publisher, New York Christian Times. "There will be an upsurge after the economic downturn, and this session — during Juneteenth reflections and one hundred years after the brutal destruction of Black Wall Street — is that kairos moment. I look forward to the Five Boro Business Forum and the future events BE NYC will bring to life."

The Five Boro Black Business Forum: The Future Starts Here will take place on Friday, June 25th from 1 - 4 p.m. Confirmed speakers and panelists include Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson, SBS Commissioner Jonnel Doris, and Michael T. Pugh, CEO, and President of Carver Federal Savings Bank. For more information on the Forum and to sign up, visit

Additionally, BE NYC is partnering with FounderTribes, a UK-based edtech mobile app, to create and host a series of monthly events, including a speaker series, featuring prominent Black entrepreneurs in NYC.

BE NYC and FounderTribes will also host a pitch slam competition for underrepresented founders. The pilot partnership will also feature a collaboration with the City of London to share information and identify policy solutions to reduce the racial wealth gap through entrepreneurship and business ownership in these two global cities.

"I am ecstatic that it's no longer acceptable for governments or corporates to tacitly accept that Black founders get 1% of VC funding in the US and 0.24% of VC funding in the UK. The reality is that anyone who is not part of the solution might be a part of the problem, so it is inspiring that both New York City and London have clearly decided to partner with FounderTribes to be part of the solution," said Gary Stewart, Founder and CEO, FounderTribes.

"We are excited to be part of this important events series to support Black-owned businesses through our partnership with BE NYC and FounderTribes. At London & Partners, we are committed to supporting founders from diverse communities and improving inclusivity in business through our Business Growth Programme and wider trade and investment activity. Collaborating with other global cities like New York provides a critical opportunity to share knowledge and drive greater progress towards a more inclusive, equal, and fair society for all," said Sara French, Director of Trade & Growth, London & Partners.

As part of its Shop Your City campaign to support local small businesses, the City is also promoting its "Shop Your City: BE NYC" Map. New Yorkers can search Black-owned businesses to support across the City during the Juneteenth holiday and beyond. For more information on this resource, visit

"Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom. It's also a recognition of Black people's struggle, as well as our hopes and dreams. Entrepreneurship is about freedom, hopes, and dreams, too, and will inevitably be peppered with some challenges. BE NYC's programming can strategically help the City's Black-owned businesses navigate their struggles as they work to realize their dreams - both in business and life," said Jacquette M. Timmons, Financial Behaviorist, President/CEO Sterling Investment Management and BE NYC Cabinet Member.

"Entrepreneurship is a crucial ingredient to the magic of New York City. We need Black businesses to thrive so the entire City can come back - creating the inclusive community we seek," said Wole Coaxum, Founder, and CEO of Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. and BE NYC Cabinet Member. "The 5 Boro Black Business Forum provides us with the necessary and innovative tools to strengthen us at this critical time. It is exciting to be a part of it."

About BE NYC
BE NYC, launched by the NYC Department of Small Business Services in 2019, is a first-of-its-kind model in a major American city to help address the racial wealth gap by empowering Black entrepreneurs. Through strategic public-private partnerships and innovative programs, BE NYC provides pathways to achieve systemic change by providing equitable access to financing, strengthening professional networks and advice, scaling Black businesses for long-term success, and preparing Black entrepreneurs for opportunities in high-growth industries. For more information, visit

About the Department of Small Business Services
SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information on all SBS services, visit, call 311, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.