August is National Black Business Month. It’s a special time to recognize the economic and social contributions of Black business owners across the nation. Locally, Savannah boasts a strong and resilient economy with a diverse class of entrepreneurs, many of whom operate black-owned businesses. The Greater Savannah Black Chamber of Commerce is committed to supporting and advocating for those businesses, ensuring that they have the resources they need to flourish.
“The first thing we do is provide spaces for professional development where businesses can get to know each other and network,” said Moncello Stewart, local entrepreneur and GSBCC president. “Two is providing training opportunities via our workshops and our series with Truist. And the third thing is the advocacy — going to the state capitol and advocating for things that would positively impact our businesses and working with local elected officials here to make sure that the chamber is always being considered and that black businesses are at the forefront when deals are being made.”
From a societal standpoint, when Black and minority-owned businesses thrive, it’s an indicator of good economic health. It’s important to support Black-owned businesses because doing so has net benefits for the community as a whole.
“By supporting Black-owned businesses, you’re helping to decrease the wealth gap, and you’re also helping other things beyond the business realm. You’re helping education and health disparities, because if someone has more money through a successful business, then they have more money to take care of themselves. . . Better health care can lead to better health outcomes, which can mean a longer life. When Black entrepreneurs live longer and make more, it sets up the next generation to do better. Those things matter,” said Stewart.
Between the incoming Hyundai EV plant, our fast-growing port and other development throughout town, Savannah is growing, and GSBCC works to ensure that Black-businesses aren’t left behind as the local economy advances further.
“There’s a booming economy. There’s a booming tourism movement here with African Americans visiting Savannah, and the chamber really wants to be part of that growth. We want to make sure that the opportunities coming here from the ports and film and other industries are accessible to our members,” he expressed.
GSBCC has nearly 250 active members representing a wide variety of industries and business sectors. Consider shopping with our local Black-owned businesses not only during the month of August but year-round because when Black businesses succeed, it uplifts our entire community. Here are a few Black-owned GSBCC member businesses to support:
Beads on the Vine
Beads on the Vine vends an extensive selection of handcrafted jewelry made from fine materials like natural gemstones, freshwater pearls, African recycled glass, Swarovski crystals and more. The business is the culmination of owner and principal designer Leila Prioleau’s retail experience and artistic education. The unique and stylish designs of Beads on the Vine jewelry are the perfect complement to any ensemble. Visit them at their store in the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, or shop online.
Carver State Bank
One of just 20 Black-owned banks nationwide, Carver State Bank has been serving the Savannah area since 1927, making it the oldest commercial bank headquartered in the Hostess City. For almost a century, Carver State Bank has been helping community members, particularly underserved and low-income individuals, on the path to financial freedom. They provide personal and business banking services as well as a plethora of resources to improve financial literacy among their clients, 92 percent of whom are Black.
Opened earlier this year on Broughton Street, Dottie’s Market is the product of business and life partners Chef Chris Meenan and Ericka Phillips. The market is a gathering place where locals and tourists alike can enjoy freshly brewed coffee, decadent pastries and savory sandwiches in a welcoming environment that honors the past, present and future. Dottie’s namesake is the matriarch of Phillips’ family, a woman who represented the joys of Southern life: good food, hospitality and a connection to the land. Her legacy lives on in this expressive kitchen. Beyond the food service, Dottie’s Market is also a great place to find unique gifts from local and regional artisans.
Located at the Tanger Outlets in Pooler, Geechie Rootz is a local retailer specializing in African clothing, accessories, health and beauty products, homewares and more. They offer men’s, women’s and children’s clothing in vibrant, traditional African prints. They also have more than 100 incense fragrances and housemade burning and diffuser oils. New products are always being added, which is all the more reason to visit Geechie Rootz frequently.
Shot by Somi
Someari Benson-Jaja is many things: a classically trained musician, a graphic designer, an enthusiastic cook. But he’s known around town primarily for his photography chops. Shot By Somi Studios is Benson-Jaja’s photography business, through which he offers wedding, branding, portrait, event and food photography services. He is adept at artfully capturing the essence of the moment and is lauded for his remarkable talent. Book a session with Benson-Jaja and prepare to be blown away by the final photos.
For a complete directory of Greater Savannah Black Chamber of Commerce members and to learn more, visit gsbcc.org.