When socially conscious business activists first organized the Sustainable Business Conference in 1990, environmental causes and business were widely seen as being at odds. Twenty-five years later, businesses increasingly are seeing sustainable practices as key to their survival. The Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts held this year’s event May 15 in Cambridge. The event brings together like-minded businesses that have created what it means to be a sustainable business — namely making an effort to build a stronger local economy through a network of environmentally and socially conscious.
Makomas draws on founder’s Ivory Coast heritage, makes headway with local retailers
Founded late last year, Makomas makes three traditional juice drinks that harken back to founder Magbè Savané’s youth in Africa: Ginger Drink, Baobab Drink and Hibiscus Tea. Her mother sold similar beverages in small plastic bags to neighbors and town folk. As a child Savané helped her mother hand-make the drinks using all-natural and simple ingredients. The 30-year-old recalls these days fondly and said juice-making immediately popped to mind when she was considering starting her own business.
We live in a mobile world. Consumers live in a mobile world. And today’s small businesses better live in a mobile world. Specifically, whether brick and mortar, old or new, b2b, b2c, tech savvy or tech weary, mobile apps can help businesses tap into markets they could never reach before — it’s a bottom-line game changer the likes of which rarely has been seen before.
Commissioner works to fight discrimination as member of Commonwealth civil rights agency
Charlotte Golar Richie’s commitment to civil rights, fairness and equality is in her blood — her parents fought for these issues, she focused on them while serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and it was a strong part of her campaign for Mayor of Boston in the 2013 election. That’s why she’s well-suited for her current role as a commissioner for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
Boston is on the forefront of the urban entrepreneur movement
Boston is on the forefront of the urban entrepreneur movement, joining other cities like New York, Chicago and Washington D.C. in backing a business environment that not only supports diversity but sees it as a necessity by directly linking businesses to their communities.
Small firms create half of Mass jobs
While speaking at the annual awards ceremony of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Massachusetts District Office on May 4 in Framingham, Baker acknowledged that small business is responsible for adding half of the new jobs in the state and admitted that any new administration would be remiss to ignore the economic necessity of small business growth.
Cultural planning crucial to success of Boston’s creative economy
Late last year, Julie Burros became Boston’s first Chief of Arts and Culture in more than 20 years. She is here to create a cultural plan for the city and work as an advocate for the arts community in the creation of new policy that will help keep art and culture strong in Boston.
May is national small business month, headlined by the government’s National Small Business Week from May 4 to May 8, and this year there is plenty to celebrate with the continual rise of the country’s small business economy. Locally, the small business celebration focuses on highlighting top success stories and emphasizing the services in place to help companies continue to grow.
SBA, President Obama pledge support for entrepreneurs during Small Business Month
Organizers of a new startup support program, CityStart Boston, have announced a month-long effort to extend Boston’s innovation economy across the entire city, beyond the city’s Innovation District and the other areas where startups and entrepreneurs cluster.
Celebrating sustainability, Caribbean culture
Nicola Williams and her Williams Agency, a marketing and event planning agency focused on food, culture and arts, has 20 years of success with events in and around Boston. Now, Williams is heading north with plans to put on Vermont’s first Caribbean foodie festival this summer.
Rashad Sanders is drawing on the city’s various startup support organizations, including District Hall in the Innovation District, the Downtown-based Startup Institute and Smarter in the City in Dudley Square, to get his young company Loadlytics off the ground. Loadlytics is developing a web-based dispatch management system that allows trucking companies to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of operations.
Family business cooks up Southern specialties from Dot to Downtown
Specializing in southern cooking, Down Home has grown since its start in 2009 so that the vision its co-owners, the husband and wife pair of Gary Webster and Gale Scott, started with is now coming to fruition.
Tech Connections and PracticeGigs were the winning startups
The “Pitch in the City” event, was organized by Banner Biz Magazine and sponsored by Northeastern University, offering substantial support and connections to all the startups pitching their ideas. It also was a great warmup for the day when the young entrepreneurs will hopefully appear before investors, seeking a serious cash infusion to keep their businesses growing.
Mass Challenge CEO spurs on entrepreneurs
Speaking at Startup Night at District Hall in the heart of Boston’s Innovation District MassChallenge CEO John Harthorne had a tough but ultimately encouraging message for aspiring entrepreneurs — the startup world is full of fear, failure and frustration, but if you have a passion for what you are doing and the will to work hard success is possible.
Competition seeks to help Boston cope with effects of climate change
A forward-looking planning competition called Boston Living with Water has turned its attention to the rising sea level and highlights the importance the architecture, design and urban planning industry will have in ensuring the city’s survival. The message is pretty clear — it’s going to be sink or swim for many of Boston’s critical economic and business hubs.
Aggressive minority participation goals for hotel construction project
The state’s massive transportation authority, Massport, may be best known for running Boston Logan International Airport and handling the local shipping ports, but that is not all it does. With well over 300 acres of real estate in addition to Logan, the agency has a big hand in some of the major development going on in Boston. Now its leaders are making a historic diversity stand with a new project to build a headquarters hotel near the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
Massport and Keolis executives talk about the importance of supplier diversity
The Boston chapter of the Black MBA Association advocates continuous learning and education attainment.
Bevco Associates, Inc. works to stabilize neighborhoods through economic and physical revitalization.
Grove Hall native is chief executive of MORE Advertising
MORE Advertising founder and CEO Donna Latson Gittens had one long-term dream for most of her early professional career — to run a television station. But after more than two decades in the TV industry, with this dream not looking likely, she did what all good entrepreneurs do and turned a better opportunity into a business.
Boston is a city known for business innovation in places like Kendall Square and the Seaport District, but there is a growing movement to expand this ecosystem in the city's neighborhoods like Dudley Square and Fields Corner.
Harvard grad Matthew Fields finds success in online education with Stanford-backed Redbird Advanced Learning
A business he birthed in his time at Harvard University has allowed Matthew Mugo Fields to fulfill a promise he made while a young immigrant student back in high school — to one day help other students better their educational opportunities just as he was helped.
New Hampshire’s state liquor distribution system offers filmmaker new opportunity
Roxbury resident Robert Patton-Spruill has enough passion — and the boost of a federal distillery license — to believe that his recently launched New England Sweetwater Farm & Distillery can be a success in the business of booze.
Crowdfunding is a hot topic in the lending and investing world, but with billions of dollars at stake for small businesses and startups it is not just an Internet trend that will fade away in the short term. Developments in the industry suggest crowdfunding will be a crucial part of supporting entrepreneurs for the foreseeable future.
Online Zip loans aid small businesses
Kiva, a nonprofit lending organization, has helped connect entrepreneurs all over the world with $670 million in loans since it began its efforts in Africa a decade ago. Now, with more than 1.2 million lenders and money sent to 86 different countries, Kiva has set its sight on helping U.S. startup entrepreneurs with its Kiva Zip program.
The Boston Impact Initiative, an organization that supports community organizations through loans and grants, has made its first equity investment in a local business, backing Roxbury-based City Fresh Foods. The move is seen as an expansion of the Initiative’s efforts to provide sources of investment cash to businesses and organizations in Boston’s urban neighborhoods. In particular, the investment focus will be on existing local businesses that provide services to the diverse communities of color throughout the city.
Initiative backed by $1 million federal grant
A state program to help small businesses use technology to expand — with Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation at its heart — has shown officials one successful way to support economic growth. The Massachusetts Broadband Institute’s Small Business Technical Assistance Program has shelled out close to three-quarters of a million dollars to small businesses and also funded a number of technical training programs, workshops and outreach to educate small businesses about the benefits of using technology.
The store’s slogan is, after all, “The Supermarket for Everyone,” and the new location will allow the store to deliver on this promise.“It is ethnic, but is it also now modern and conventional,” Garry said.
Argus ad agency’s motto is “Work that Matters”
“What is essential to Argus is to do work that matters, that is our core value and core principle. That leads us to work with organizations that we respect and admire,” Arenas said.
After 40 years in the same location in Dudley Square, ethnic food market pioneer Tropical Foods is opening up a brand new store on Feb. 4.
Smarter in the City, a business incubator in Dudley Square, is continuing to build on its early success and has selected the second group of local startup companies it will support for a five-month period, starting next month.
While recent studies have shown that using mobile technologies — such as apps that help consumers connect with a business over handheld devices — can significantly increase revenue, other experts say businesses that don’t use mobile technologies will eventually wither and die.
The Massachusetts Minority Contractors Association broke new ground last week when it announced the appointment of Beverley Johnson as the organization’s first female president and chairwoman of the board.
Marketing firm wins Social Impact Prize
When Dorchester resident Michelle Miller Groves named her startup Social Good Marketing, she knew she would have to do something to impact the community. By targeting her integrated marketing services to nonprofits and setting up an internship program helping college students get experience with small businesses, she has done just that.
Erinn Danielle loves being a hair stylist. There is nothing the founder of Simply Erinn’s Unisex Salon in Cambridge would rather do with her day than help her customers feel great about their hair. But running a business is another thing and it wasn’t until she finally focused on the business end of things — a decade in to owning her salon — that the future really brightened.
Riding a wave of confidence, small business owners across the U.S. are expecting a banner year in 2015, with all indicators pointing to growth.
Entrepreneur Melissa James started her own recruitment company to help diversify the field by connecting underrepresented technical talent with software and IT companies.
Small businesses had much to celebrate in 2014 as all indicators continued to point to the steady rise of the U.S. economy out of the shadow of the Great Recession — led by growth in hiring and the increasingly effective use of technology to compete.
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center — a Waltham-based organization that supports life sciences innovation, research and development — is giving $100,000 to The Partnership to take a look at the state of diversity in the industry and develop a professional development program that will help train and retain underrepresented minorities working in the life sciences industry.
The Boston University School of Hospitality Administration has a major asset in Assistant Professor Erinn Tucker, who is teaching her students that hospitality experience opens doors well beyond just working at a hotel or restaurant, and that they can play a major part in the U.S.’s increasingly service-oriented economy.
The federal Small Business Health Options Program, known as SHOP, is set up to help companies with 50 or fewer workers get better deals for employee health coverage, under the requirements of The Affordable Care Act. Setting up an online SHOP marketplace, like a similar version for individuals, is supposed to be the easiest way to get the best deal.
Massachusetts restaurant workers and living wage advocates took to the streets in protest late last week in the national Fight for $15 campaign, joining protesters in almost 200 cities across the United States — this despite Massachusetts already passing one of the highest minimum wage hikes in the country and also seeing voters approve a ballot question last month to guarantee earned sick time to most workers.
Jesse Nandhavan, the new president and CEO of the Boston chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals, knows he has a big task in front of him as he inherits a group that is facing a changing Asian-American business community in Boston. For years, the norm was for Asians to aspire to be doctors, engineers or corporate executives — but now more and more are trying their hand at starting their own small businesses.
One-time management consultant and math major Joanne Chang has turned her dream of opening her own bakery into a successful growing business, with four very popular Flour Bakery & Café locations around Boston.
Civil rights and social policy expert William Julius Wilson does not pull punches when it comes to discussing the problems that face communities of color in today’s world — and at Boston University’s recent event examining The Civil Rights Act of 1964 he argued compellingly that the lack of access to jobs and job training means little hope for America’s most disadvantaged.
A Sweet Place founder Beverly Hilaire ditched her profitable Fields Corner location in the hopes of securing a larger space in Dudley Square.
Massachusetts business owners and business and organizations that support them are already at work planning a pro-business agenda for the incoming administration of Governor-elect Charlie Baker.
While some business leaders say Boston is losing college graduates to other cities, a new report shows the city retains a better educated workforce than most U.S. cities
Volunteers with the NAACP Boston Branch hoped to inspire young professional women with the Lean In Series.
A number of federal, state and city officials visited Roxbury late last week to promote efforts to back the budding urban entrepreneurial community in Boston’s inner-city areas.