Breaking down barriers for Black business owners in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. — The African American Chamber of Commerce in Central Florida is working to break down barriers for Black business owners by creating partnerships with local banks. 

What You Need To Know

  • The African American Chamber of Commerce Central Florida is working to create a road map for black business owners to succeed
  • The group helped a local commercial banker become a business owner in Baldwin Park
  • Hyzens Marc, CEO of O-Town Provisions, distributes Boar’s Head products to places like Publix and local restaurants
  • In 2020, Black people represented 14.2% of all Americans but only 2.4% of all employer-firm owners, according to the Brookings Institute

According to a 2020 report from Goldman Sachs, Black entrepreneurs face challenges getting funding, generating revenue and hiring full-time employees at the same level as white business owners.

Officials at the Chamber of Commerce say they want to create a road map for Black business owners to succeed and foster a sense of community by networking with large and small businesses.

“The chamber is a great resource — it’s a place where you can come and meet like-minded individuals who are business owners as well,” said chamber president Tanisha Nunn. “Or if they are looking at starting a business, it’s a great place to come for mentorship. No matter where you are in your journey, there’s something here for you.”

Those resources have helped a local commercial banker transform into a business owner in Baldwin Park.

Packing boxes with deli meat and organizing deliveries is not always what Hyzens Marc had planned.

“I was working at JP Morgan,” he said. “I had a customer of mine who was a Boar’s Head distributor. Him and I hit it off. We became very close, and one day he said, ‘Hey man, with your attitude and perseverance, I think this could be a good business for you.'”

In 2017, Marc created O-Town Provisions to distributing Boar’s Head products to Publix and local restaurants. He said he has a lot of gratitude for his parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti, where their key to success was hard work.

“I’m really proud to be of Haitian descent,” he said. “My parents are immigrants to this country and they work very hard. It’s because of their hard work I’ve always strived to work harder to make them proud.”

After joining the African American Chamber, Marc said he grew his business by learning from others.

“There’s a lot of road maps and a lot of resources, such as the chamber,” he said. “Once you follow through with that, you can also be successful.”

Marc is now mentoring new entrepreneurs with the next great idea.

“I don’t think this was all happenstance,” he said. “I think that I’m in this position so that I can give back. So there may be one person out there who sees my story and says, ‘You know what, I can do it too.'”

A 2023 Brookings Institute report found that only 2.4% of employer-firm owners were Black in 2020, despite making up 14.2% of the population. From 2019 to 2020, the number of Black-owned businesses grew by nearly 5%.

While the trend continues to rise, Brookings suggested that if Black-owned businesses continue to grow at its current rate, it will take 256 years to reach parity with the share of Black people in America.