Highly Commended 2022
For(bes) the Culture
State Of Black Entrepreneurship
Grassroots movements have been known to change history, but can they correct history too? Enter: For(bes) The Culture—a hub for elite leaders of color who are breaking down barriers and impacting culture globally to connect, collaborate and change. Beginning as a grassroots movement several years ago, Forbes brought the impactful movement in-house in 2020.
Today, For(bes) The Culture provides a platform that fosters professional development, social consciousness, civic engagement, intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship through community service projects, social and cultural outings, personal and professional workshops and seminars, mentoring, tutoring and networking. With over 2.6k members spanning 30 countries, For(bes) The Culture is on a mission to create equitable pathways for Black and Brown professionals.
In 2020, as racial injustice was brought further to the forefront and Black-owned businesses navigated their way through the new normal, For(bes) The Culture sought to solve a critical issue—the decades of forgotten and omitted Black business success. Thus came the idea for The State of Black Entrepreneurship, an ongoing project that launched in March 2021 and aims to accurately define, rectify and create Black history.
The Content Solution
The State of Black Entrepreneurship project is multifaceted, incorporating historical research that unveils decades of overlooked Black business successes, plus new quantitative data and multimedia storytelling that illustrates how Black entrepreneurship stands today—and where it’s headed. The project exemplifies how Forbes and For(bes) The Culture uses their brand voice to compel change—and ensure equity—as the world builds back in this pivotal year. Key elements of the project include Beyond Black History, Culture X: The Forgotten and a Barometer Check on Black Entrepreneurship.
The Media/Content Amplification Solution
Beyond Black History set out to honor and support Black people beyond just Black History Month and included a video compilation of testimonials from prominent Black leaders and changemakers on Black history. The element also included #BlackIsAmericanHistory, a campaign to move Black History Month from February to June for its greater historical significance and to better boost Black business.
Culture X: The Forgotten was created as a content series that features 10 Black business titans from history who were invisible in the media compared to their white contemporaries. To pay homage to the period in which they would have been featured if things were as they should have been, the profiles are presented in retro Forbes cover designs. From Joseph Lee to Reginald Lewis to Mary Ellen Pleasant, Culture X spotlights the high-impact entrepreneurs and industry disruptors left out of history.
Lastly, the third element of the project is “The Check-In” on Black Entrepreneurship by industry. Released in four parts throughout the year, these video segments report qualitative and anecdotal findings from current big-name Black entrepreneurs who shed light on the current state of Black entrepreneurship and lead up to the release of a quantitative survey findings on the state of Black entrepreneurship today.
To build buzz around the release, The State of Black Entrepreneurship was released after Black History month to rally entrepreneurs, executives, celebrities and fellow changemakers to join the movement to honor Black history year-round. The initial release garnered nearly 100k impressions.
And since its reveal, it’s already unearthed primary historical sources (documents) on important Black business titans forgotten by history. More results are still coming in, but early indicators show growth of the For(bes) The Culture community—including a 13.3% increase in Instagram following.
The program has also successfully become a newsroom-wide initiative at Forbes—including reporters and editors from every editorial beat—and has attracted collaborations with high-profile entrepreneurs like Vivica Fox and Brandon Marshall. Through inclusive and multimedia storytelling, The State of Black Entrepreneurship is well on its way to rectifying Black history and bringing Black success to the forefront.