The Center for Business Inclusion and Diversity recently honored 100 minority and women-owned businesses as top companies for the mid-Atlantic Region in 2012 at a luncheon in Adelphi.

Produced in conjunction with The Pinder Group, LLC and greiBO media, the banquet brought together minority and women entrepreneurs at the Marriott Inn and Conference Center on the grounds of the University of Maryland College Park campus.

“I feel really honored that we were selected,” said Funlayo Alabi, president and creative director of Columbia-based Shea Radiance, a manufacturer of natural and organic products, such as shea butter. Alabi said the business, which she started with her husband in 2005, distributes to local organic stores, Whole Foods outlets and starting in June, Target stores.

“It was very encouraging to know that there are other small businesses out there that have probably gone through the same struggles that we have but are succeeding and doing well in Maryland,” Alabi said.

The honorees said they were able to share ideas and perspectives on challenges that face minorities and women in business.

“Tradition shows that women have always lagged behind men in payroll and jobs that are typically geared towards women,” said Pamela Ayd of Ayd Transportation, whose company employs 10 and includes heavy trucks that move everything from large farm equipment to construction materials. “Even though they take more time, energy, and experience, they don’t pay as well, historically, as positions men have. I feel like now I can show my daughter that I was rewarded for my effort and hard work, especially in this…male dominated business.”

According to data from the U.S. Census in 2007, women owned 32.6 percent of all businesses in Maryland, up almost four percent over the national statistic of 28.8 percent.

Census data shows that of 528,000 firms in Maryland, just over 19 percent are owned by Blacks. Nationally, African Americans own 7.1 percent of 27 million companies, the data shows.

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer