Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. ® Beta Chi Omega Chapter is excited to announce the launch of its ‘Pink Pages,’ a directory of Black-owned businesses across the Roanoke Valley. The launch comes during National Black Business Month, a time to celebrate and support Black-owned businesses nationwide.

People across the area can view and download the directory here. The businesses included in the Pink Pages fall under a wide variety of categories, from financial services to childcare.

“The goal of the Pink Pages is to provide a resource to the community to drive purchases and help preserve these businesses,” said Gwendolyn Mitchell, who helped to spearhead the project. “Especially during the pandemic, a lot of Black-owned businesses shut down. They lost their businesses and their ability to leave a legacy for their children. Our hope is the Pink Pages will help build an awareness around these local businesses, help them draw in new customers and keep their doors open.”

Numbers from CNBC in 2021 indicated that 20% of small businesses in the United States fail by the first year and 30% by the second. But for Black-owned businesses, eight of 10 fail within 18 months. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted these disparities, with a 41% decline in Black-owned businesses between February and April 2020, compared with a 17% decline among White-owned businesses, according to CNBC. Black and other minority-owned businesses also faced challenges getting small business relief loans during the pandemic.

“We are excited about continuously supporting our Black-owned businesses and encouraging others to do the same to ensure sustainability,” said Katina Hamlar, President of Beta Chi Omega Chapter. “Last year, to determine our impact, we began tracking the dollars spent with Black businesses, and it opened our eyes to the significant impact we can make. It energized us to want to do more.”

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. ®, the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African American, college-educated women, is dedicated to addressing local, national, and international needs through service programs that uplift and empower communities. One of the organization’s program targets under the immediate past administration was “Building Your Economic Legacy,” which included an initiative to highlight and promote successful Black-owned businesses, help spawn new entrepreneurial efforts, and encourage the intentional support of Black-owned businesses. That initiative prompted members of Beta Chi Omega Chapter in Roanoke to complete the Pink Pages.

“Beta Chi Omega had been piecing something together for years,” Mitchell said of the efforts to compile the Pink Pages. “We really put it into place when we came under the new targets.”

Economic initiatives to support Black-owned and women-owned businesses continue under the current administration's "Build Our Economic Wealth" program.

Mitchell said the launch of the Pink Pages is also an opportunity to celebrate the culture of Black-owned businesses. “It’s really something that’s near and dear to our hearts that we want to see Black-owned businesses grow and be preserved and get the attention that they need to help highlight their specific and unique products.”

The ‘Pink Pages,’ the directory’s name, is a nod to one of the sorority’s official colors, which is salmon pink.