By Jada Russell

There are two perspectives in which you can look at small business. On one end, small business growth is on the rise and they are the #1 job creators in America. Even more promising is that Black women, in particular, are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs. But we have to look at less flattering stats as well, like the fact that minority-owned businesses, particularly women-owned business, are often overlooked for funding for scale, receiving just 2 percent of venture-capital dollars. These statistics show that there needs to be more support given to the growing small business community and in particular Black-owned businesses.

The WDB L.E.G.A.C.Y Awards Gala seeks to address just that, by creating an event where entrepreneurs come together for a night of networking and building connections for future collaboration and support. “Our mission with the L.E.G.A.C.Y Awards is to create a platform where our network of 3,000 business owners can be exposed to one another and connect for new opportunities,” says Keeana Barber, founder, and CEO of WDB Marketing. “Over the last three years, we’ve seen first-hand how new connections have led to business development and funding opportunities.”

The 3rdAnnual WDB L.E.G.A.C.Y Awards seeks to amplify the message that black business matters and the communities they serve are committed to supporting them. It also aims to create pathways for businesses to expand to global markets. To support this effort, World Business Chicago has partnered with them this year. WBC will be onsite at the gala to share information about two new programs designed to provide new resources and create new opportunities for small businesses and non-profits: ChiBizHub and Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE). They will also have representatives on hand to talk about opportunities to expand their business globally like exporting.

The awards gala takes place on Saturday, February 23, 2019, from 6pm-10pm at Malcolm X College located at 1900 W. Jackson, Chicago, Illinois.

In addition to creating new business connectivity, six business owners and community leaders will be honored for building L.E.G.A.C.Y which represents Leadership, Education, Growth, Advocacy, Community and Youth. The 2019 awardees are Monique Rodriquez – Mielle Organics, Carl Tutt – 100 Black Men of Chicago, Mapula Nkomo – National Council of African Women, William Calloway – Community Advocate, Tim King – Urban Prep Academy, and Cory Thames – The Obama Foundation.

A program highlight includes a Pitch Competition for emerging youth entrepreneurs age 25 and younger. The winner will win a prize valued at over $15,000 – including a cash prize paired with professional consulting and marketing services – to support their business dreams and sustained success. In true “Shark Tank” style, the top 3 finalists will pitch live during the ceremony and be chosen by the audience.

This year’s sponsors include World Business Chicago, The Insurance Exchange Ltd., White, Wilson and Associates, and Remy Martin. NBC Chicago is an Event Supporter. Media Sponsors include Bronzeville Life, Urban Broadcast Media, Truth B Told Media, The AC Green Show, Culture of Black Chicago and many more.

Entrepreneurs and supporters of the small business community are invited to attend. General Admission tickets are $50, VIP is $75. Tickets are available at

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