Mid-Missouri black entrepreneurs showcase their businesses

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COLUMBIA - Columbia College's Black Business Expo is highlighting over 30 black-owned businesses from across the Mid-Missouri area as a part of their Black History Month Celebration.

From food, fashion, art, and beauty, the Black Business Expo showcased a variety of small businesses stationed in the Southwell Athletic Complex. The networking event was open to the public. 

Columbia College's Associate Director of Programs and Partnerships Michael Lewis said, that the Black Business Expo started as a way to celebrate Black History Month in a forward-thinking way.

"We wanted to show the wide variety of black-owned businesses community," he said.

Lewis says that a majority of the organizers of the event, including himself, are from out of state and have seen how black business expos are of common place in larger cities. 

"We wanted to give entrepreneurs a chance to network with other entrepreneurs in their own community," he said.

Angel Weir, Owner of Cakez Customs, a beauty and crafts company said that events like the expo gives her the chance to see other companies in her community.

"It just makes me feel good to sell my stuff, seeing other people do the same, and coming together for one cause," she said

She started her business of creating candles, bath bombs, and soap out of the need to take care of her daughter with special needs. 

"I could no longer work, so I decided to take what I love and make a profit out of it," she said.

Weir says that people that want to start a business can make the most out of very little.

"You don't have to have a lot of money and a lot of degrees, to make a living, something that people love, or a necessity," she said.

Lewis hopes for more events like the Black Business Expo on a larger scale with a bigger audience and more vendors to bring more awareness to buying local.

"In Mid-Missouri, we need to do a better job of highlighting our minority business owners," Lewis said.