Helping African-American and Disadvantaged Businesses Grow in Kansas

March 7, 2017
By Dell Gines, Senior Community Development Advisor

Community ConnectionsThe 2012 Survey of Business Owners shows the average African-American business in Kansas has sales seven times lower than the average white-owned business and employs just a third of the employees of their white counterparts. African-American businesses also are underrepresented relative to their population percentage in the state.


What Is the Create Campaign?

The Create Campaign is an initiative started in 2015 in Wichita, Kan., with the goal of growing stronger businesses in African-American and underrepresented communities. The program connects owners of new and existing businesses with resources, education and service providers. It started with a half-day program at Wichita State University, where business owners from all stages of the business life cycle could learn from various providers and professionals; programming has expanded every year. 

Why was the Create Campaign Started and Why Is It Important?

Local business leaders were looking for ways to advance economic development in Wichita. After looking at the business data and the disparities that exist among African-American businesses, one development strategy was to focus on helping grow this population of business owners. To do this, barriers that have prevented the growth of African-American and other disadvantaged business owners needed to be addressed and eliminated. To accomplish this, the Create Campaign was formed. 

While the Create Campaign is focused on business growth and economic development, there also are social implications. Social improvement for the African-American community historically has focused on civil rights. Less focus has been paid to building African-American communities through economic development. In addition, there has been limited participation by the broader community in addressing the economic development of these communities. To build empowered communities, you also have to focus on building strong businesses. 

What has the Create Campaign Accomplished?

Over the past two years, the Create Campaign has engaged more than 100 African-American entrepreneurs. The Create Campaign also has been directly responsible for the launch of two new African-American businesses, a noticeable increase in businesses seeking services from area providers and stronger participation in our local chambers of commerce. More than 30 service providers have been engaged in more effectively serving communities of color. 

Each year, the Create Campaign has increased its program offerings. One major addition was the inclusion of a dinner with high-performing African-American business owners. At this dinner, owners listened to experts in the field, were connected with networking and mentoring opportunities and were provided information on business opportunities in the Wichita area. A new program to help business owners expand into exporting is kicking off in the 2017 Create Campaign programming cycle. One of the newest programs will focus on helping African-American companies understand how venture capital works and what they need to do to be ready to pursue it.  

What is Next?

The Create Campaign has secured sponsorships to expand across Kansas. The first city the Create Campaign will expand to is Kansas City, Kan. The next will be in western Kansas to support the growth in Hispanic businesses in that region. With all of the additional growth, the Create Campaign also will focus on strengthening the systemic approach used by the organization, adding more administration staff to keep up with the work, and put in place better business tracking mechanisms to evaluate long-term impact.

What Does Long-Term Success Look Like for the Create Campaign?

Long-term success would be to develop business support hubs across Kansas that help grow the state economy and empower local African-American and disadvantaged communities.

To learn more about the Create Campaign, visit