By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,
JPMorgan Chase recently hosted a small business roundtable with business and nonprofit leaders in D.C.’s Black community at the Anacostia Arts Center.
Ben Walter, CEO of business banking, led the panel discussion, which featured Pinkey Reddick, owner of Pinke’s E.A.T.S; Shanel Adams, general manager of Dog Tag Bakery; and Tiffany Williams, president and CEO of Martha’s Table.
The women discussed their missions, challenges, needs and shared advice for other small businesses and nonprofits.
“I’ve been lucky enough to spend more than a decade of my life serving small businesses. It’s a tough job. You’re the CEO, the customer service department and the floor sweeper all at the same time,” said Walter.
“When you hear their stories you really hear just how tough it is. They really are heroes bringing their dreams to life.”
Reddick opened Pinke’s E.A.T.S, a family-run catering and food delivery service, in 2016 to provide healthy, fresh food options to her fellow residents in Ward 7, a community that had limited access to full-service grocery stores.
Now, the D.C. native has acquired a 6,500-square foot space for the business where she plans to also engage other chef entrepreneurs to hone their culinary craft and prepare to open their own food businesses.
Reddick and her colleague, Llewellyn McAlister, also recently opened Flavorture, an elevated soul food concept, in Woodley Park. This is the neighborhood’s first Black-owned restaurant.
During the roundtable, Reddick discussed the importance of business owners offering employment opportunities to their local communities.
“I think one of the biggest ways that we give back is by hiring within the community,” said Reddick. “We hire people who look like us and mothers who don’t have the time to work eight hours and need flexibility.”
Williams became the CEO and president of Martha’s Table last December after holding leadership roles with the organization for several years. The nonprofit, which has served Washingtonians for more than 40 years, was started to provide District children with food access.
Today, it runs nationally-accredited education programs, provides mental health services and supports D.C. families in achieving economic security.
Williams explained that nonprofits encounter many of the same challenges that businesses do.
“Martha’s Table is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, but we run like a business, so we ask ourselves the same questions that business leaders ask themselves. How will we attract and retain top talent? How will we
] the infrastructure that’s necessary to honor the promises we’ve made to our neighbors both today and for years to come? ” said Williams.
But, for Williams, the most recent challenge to nonprofits’ success has been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, officially declared over by President Joe Biden on ——.
“When we think about what’s happened since COVID, for us, everything is new, and everything is different. The biggest challenge is learning how to navigate as a nonprofit in this new era beyond COVID.”
In response, Martha’s Table has forged philanthropic partnerships with various organizations that share in its core values, like JPMorgan Chase, to fund its work and create new programming for residents.
Like Martha’s Table, Dog Tag Bakery has also relied on partnerships to advance its work. The casual restaurant funds a fellowship program that supports veterans and their families with acclimating back into society.
Adams said Dog Tag Bakery engages its customers and the Georgetown business community to help lead workforce training programs for its veterans.
Each of the women agreed that they want to create more opportunities for D.C. residents to become financially secure and fulfill their goals.
“We want everyone to understand the depth of talent and brilliance in this community and to find ways through entrepreneurship to support that talent and allow people the opportunity to live their dreams,” said Williams.