This Org Promises to Revamp Black-Owned Businesses in Harlem

A recent report by New York City Comptroller’s office showed that although gentrified neighborhoods have contributed to the city’s economic growth over the last 15 years, with new storefronts and companies increasing by 45%, black-owned businesses, particularly in Harlem, are increasingly on the decline. Between 2007 and 2012, black-owned businesses plummeted by 30%.

To help these business owners regain footing in their neighborhoods, the Harlem Commonwealth Council (HCC), a development corporation determined to bring economic prosperity to minority communities in New York, launched “Growth Path,”—a free, small-business advisory service designed specifically to help entrepreneurs of color and women-owned businesses in Harlem. HSBC is one of the sponsors. 

To kick off the second cohort, HCC hosted a fireside chat with Chris Collins, entrepreneur, model, and creator of Chris Collins Alchemy of Fragrances, to speak about the successes and challenges of being an entrepreneur of color. Collins will be joined in conversation by Julee Wilson, fashion and beauty director of Essence magazine.


The service will provide local entrepreneurs with intensive hands-on advice from subject experts in sales and marketing, financial management, or human capital—a service sponsored by West Harlem Development Corporation. Complementing its one-on-one consultations, Growth Path will expand to offer tailored educational series to include a tax workshop, legal clinic, and marketing workshop to further develop the knowledge and technical skills of local firms.

As Harlem continues to evolve, Growth Path’s services will be pivotal in ensuring businesses owned by women and people of color remain competitive, build wealth, create local jobs, and assure the vibrancy of our community,” said Kelvin Collins, president of Harlem Commonwealth Council. “We are delighted for the support West Harlem Development Corporation and HSBC bring to this endeavor–it highlights the power of collaboration.”

To qualify for the program, entrepreneurs must have been in business for at least one year, located in Harlem with at least one employee plus the owner, and must have an annual revenue of $150,000 to $10 million.


HSBC’s involvement in this initiative is the result of our employees’ desire to give back to the community, which has been led by the volunteer work of our colleagues involved in our African Heritage employee resource group, in partnership with our Corporate Sustainability and Retail Business Banking teams,” said Mike MacIntyre, head of Retail Business Banking, HSBC Bank USA N.A. “Providing our financial support and business expertise to entrepreneurs based in Harlem through ‘Growth Path’ is a great example of our commitment to supporting small businesses, and it goes well beyond just opening an account. We are here to help small business thrive.”

Apply to the second cohort here.