ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — The QC Empowerment Network is hosting their largest Black Business Expo since the program began. This will be the 7th annual event aimed at helping to build Black-owned businesses in the Quad Cities.
"I think the most important thing is the networking amongst the businesses because you have some who have had failure, but they learn from it and then share that with those people that are just now starting," said Tracy Singleton, QC Empowerment Network COO.
Singleton says the group saw a need in the community and felt something needed to be done to shine a light on Black owned businesses.
"What we want to do is make sure that we create this space to give them opportunities to grow as the businesses scale up, and then maybe eventually they do get that storefront or brick and mortar for their business," Singleton said.
One young entrepreneur who signed-up for the event is Augustana junior Kareem Washington. He is the founder and owner of his "Humble Menace" clothing line.
"It's a mindset to be able to have self-control during tough times," Washington said. "I'm from Chicago, so there's a lot of violence, health disparities and more that affects my community. But having that self-control helps you turn that rage or pain into something productive."
Washington started his business at the beginning of the pandemic. He currently designs and makes his products out of his Augie dorm room to continue focusing on his studies as a public health major.
Showcasing and networking his hard work at the Black Business Expo will be a continuation of growing his brand.
"It feels amazing to work with other businesses, Black owned businesses. other businesses there to communicate my message to other people who might think like me," Washington said.
The expo will take place Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at South Park Mall.