Across the Atlanta metropolitan area, people are waking up early, staying up late, and finding every possible second throughout their days to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Less than 1,000 miles away in the Bahamas, the story is the same for many who are also starting their own small businesses. And whether the business is based in Atlanta or the Bahamas, the dream is the same: to build a sustainable business that supports their families and communities.
Among these dreamers are Dr. Lakeysha “Key” Hallmon and Astra Armbrister – Rolle, both women supporting the dreams of others with dreams of their own. Dr. Key is the founder of The Village Market ATL, which exists to support the sustainability of socially conscious, community- minded, Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned startups. Throughout the year, The Village Market ATL continuously supports budding businesses through workshops and trainings, pouring into entrepreneurs who are investing in their growth. Each quarter, The Village Market ATL brings almost 100 Black entrepreneurs and small businesses together with thousands of consumers in a marketplace packed with food, fun, and families all seeking to extend the circulation of the Black dollar.
A little further south, and with the Bahamian government’s commitment to support small businesses, Astra has been instrumental in the creation of the Small Business Development Center. Within one year, it has given $1,000,000 to small businesses in the Bahamas. Moving forward, the goal is to build international partnerships to continue to strengthen the business community. Notably, Astra is the youngest ever Bahama Consul General and the first ever to collaborate internationally on this scale.
This summer, The Village Market ATL hosted its summer market, and as usual, it brought a unique energy and atmosphere to downtown Atlanta. But there was something extra special with this summer’s market. This time, The Village Market ATL added a focus on the global diaspora, revealing the manifestation of a year of groundwork to form a partnership between The Village Market ATL and the Embassy of the Bahamas with the Bahamian Small Business Development Center. This collaboration further extended to the Bahamian Tourism Office, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and the Employers Federation. For Bahamian businesses owners, these partnerships mean increased stability and more exposure to a non-tourism customer base. Increasing regular business has significant impacts that include opportunities to employ more individuals from Bahamian communities. For Atlantans, this partnership provides a unique chance to support and strengthen a burgeoning Black and global economy.
Dr. Key and Astra are working to strengthen their individual and collective economies and increase the circulation of the Black dollar through meaningful collaborations. Atlanta’s diverse and thriving network of small businesses is uniquely capable of serving as partners for developing economies and supporting Black business owners. Black businesses are consistently behind their white counterparts for growth, hiring, revenue, and profits. But with partnerships like this one, black-owned businesses have a chance to improve their odds of survival and success and get one step closer to achieving their dreams.