EBONY Chats With Comedian Michelle Buteau, Host of the Facebook Elevate #BuyBlack Summit

Image: Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for BET

Today, Facebook announced the Facebook Elevate #BuyBlack Summit—a one-day virtual event designed to accelerate and equip Black business owners with the tools needed to thrive in an economy that has been dramatically shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic, while also celebrating and spotlighting Black creators.

“This month, we’re so excited to put a spotlight on Black-owned small businesses and offer a new training event—the Facebook Elevate Buy Black Summit,” says Rachael Hawk, Facebook’s Small Business Marketing Manager in a statement obtained by EBONY.” So many small businesses have suffered incredible loss over the last year, but Black-owned small businesses have been disproportionately affected by higher closure rates and lost sales. This virtual event will give new tools, insights, and inspirations for businesses on their road to recovery.”

The virtual summit, which is slated to take place on August 24 at 1 pm ET, will be hosted by comedian and small business owner Michelle Buteau. Guest speakers include Shelly Bell of Black Girl Ventures, Arian Simone of Fearless Fund, on Busby, President/CEO, US Black Chambers, Inc., Ayris Scales, CEO, Walker’s Legacy Foundation, and Donald Cravins, EVP, National Urban League.

EBONY had the opportunity to connect with Buteau to discuss the upcoming inspirational forum, why we should all support small businesses, and more.

EBONY: Tell me about the Facebook Elevate #BuyBlack Summit.

Michelle Buteau: First of all, I’m so excited to do something social media-related that will educate, love, and support people. Something that will celebrate Black culture and serve communities, help foster job creation and local economies, and help the people putting their heart and soul out there. I miss doing stand-up. I can be funny as the day is long, but it is very nice to do something  social media related that isn’t like, “Hey, look at me! Look at my posts!” It’s nice to just just bring the community together and help them figure out how to support each other. Like, “what can we do out of this pandemic?”

Why do small businesses have such an important role in your life?

Small businesses are the heart and soul of every community. My grandfather met my grandma because she was on the corner, somewhere in Kingston, Jamaica, just selling food out of a pot, you know? My husband and I own a mid-century modern furniture business together. I mean this is where ideas grow. You don’t get to be Macy’s unless you start with an idea. Whenever I’m giving a gift to somebody, I always want to buy Black. I always want to support somebody’s family or dream. When you buy from a small business, you are paying it forward.

As a small business owner, what advice do you have for others who may just be starting out?

I’m still learning, but I’d say to definitely share your story. Whether it is by word of mouth or social media or going to a convention center; whatever it is, just share, share and overshare. You might get tired of hearing or talking about your business, but it’s the first time somebody else has heard about it. Connect with people.This is community. We’re building community. We’re all doing this together. We’re definitely stronger together.

I think also getting a little media savvy that doesn’t hurt. You know—hashtags, figuring out algorithms, and stuff like that.

We have all the info we needat our fingertips. Whether it is becoming incorporated or even applying for a small business loan, it can feel like it’s impossible, but all you have to do is ask. You never know. Shoot your shot. You might have a small business but you definitely have to think big.

To learn more about the Facebook Elevate #BuyBlack Summit, click here. To register, click here.

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