Nicole Cober, Esq., Principal Managing Partner of The CJR Group, brings together 50 Black-female-owned businesses representing $200M in revenue. They’re establishing The BOW Collective. This is a groundbreaking organization of Black women business owners who partner and compete for large-scale contracts in both the public and private sectors.
Forming the Collective
For years, Black women have not enjoyed equity in entrepreneurship. They have been turned down all too often seeking capital, connections, and contract opportunities to grow our businesses. Black women entrepreneurs have received only 0.3 percent in investment capital. As a result, just 1 percent of Black women-owned businesses generate more than $250K in revenue.
To change this disturbing reality, we formed BOW to collaborate and negotiate as a collective. We want to support and scale Black women-owned businesses. We have felt underserved by other organizations focused on supporting women in business. This organization is a measure to close the racial wealth gap in America. It can create generational wealth for our members and the Black community at large.
Business philanthropist Cober believes that working together to get financial resources and contracts will have a seismic economic impact on the Black community.
Notably, The BOW Collective requires that each of its businesses exceed gross annual revenues of $1 million. Considering that only 4.2 percent of all women-owned firms achieve this, these Black women are leaders within the small business community.
The BOW Collective members average 15 years in business. They have more than 1,050 employees and collectively have more than $200 million in gross annual sales.
A primary strategy of the Collective is to leverage their relationships with Fortune 500 companies and government agencies to broker multi-year contracts. Additionally, The BOW Collective wants stronger banking relationships and investment opportunities for their businesses.
“If you’re looking to do business with or invest in Black women’s businesses, The BOW Collective members are here,” Cober says. “If you’re not doing business with Black women, your company is not optimizing your results. Our members stand ready to do business.”
The members’ existing clients include Amazon, GSA, the Department of Defense, Toyota and Skanska. The BOW Collective has the experience and capacity to work with powerhouses like Microsoft, HPE and Verizon. They are lining up meetings with supplier diversity teams to cut through red tape.
“We want to be the business development committee. We can help corporations find small businesses with the capacity to help these companies make their diversity goals. Conventional wisdom states that Black-owned businesses do not have the bandwidth to do business with large companies. The BOW Collective endeavors to change that perception with data and superior performance,” says Fatimah Moody, partner of LinkVisum Consulting Group, Inc., and a The BOW Collective member.
“We want to leverage and improve those relationships and even encourage banks to compete for our collective business needs,” says Michelle Taylor, President and CEO of BETAH Associates, and a BOW Collective member.
Edie Fraser, CEO of the Women’s Business Collaborative, who serves on the Advocacy Board for the Collective, enthusiastically supports the organization. “It’s a joy to congratulate Nicole Cober for establishing The Bow Collective, supporting more business for more women. It takes the village of mutual support and all who can provide capital and contracts to great women-owned businesses. It takes collaboration and sharing the rich resources and capabilities of these businesses and their leaders.”
The Bow Collective’s official launch event is planned for February 2-3, 2022, at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Virginia. The event includes an awards luncheon that celebrates legendary Black women in business. Cober believes that the organization will grow its chapter to a maximum of 100 members, with the goal of creating additional chapters around the nation starting in 2023.
Read Navigating Diversity and Inclusion in a Time of Crisis.