Brittany Carter (Courtesy photo)

In 2020, Black people represented 14.2% of the population, but only 2.4% of all employer-firm owners. If Black business ownership continues to grow at its current rate of 4.72%, it will take 256 years to reach parity with the share of Black people in America.  The Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce Business Evolution Program is part of the solution to decrease this racial wealth gap.

Since 2005, GLAAACC BEP has provided a business bootcamp with corporate mentors and a rigorous curriculum that includes modules on contracting, procurement, supplier diversity, technical assistance, technology, access to capital and other financial products and a cloud-based back office platform.

The program provides Black entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to increase their capacity, enabling them to become employers and part of the economic engine that keeps the state and local economy growing.

“Since its inception, BEP has been GLAAACC’s flagship program to take businesses to the next level and beyond,” GLAAACC Chairman Gene Hale said. “Businesses that go through the program have had exponential growth.  It’s like getting an executive MBA from an HBCU.”

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In May, 23 new BEP graduates walked across the stage after successfully completing the nine-month curriculum. The 2024 BEP graduates span a range of industries, from tech to photography to food service to transportation and media services.

One of those graduates was Skylar Taylor, owner of Taylor Melrose, a product and brand development company, specializing in beauty, personal care and wellness.  He has developed over 250 products that are sold in Dollar General, TJ Maxx and Urban Outfitters.  Taylor Melrose has been featured in Vogue, GQ, Glamour and Vanity Fair.

Skylar Taylor (Courtesy photo)

Taylor, a creative director and graphic designer with expertise in packaging design, has worked in the tech, jewelry, cosmetic and fashion industries.  After the official end of the pandemic and helping others achieve success and not being compensated, Taylor was ready to take a leap of faith and strike out on his own.

After completing an online accelerator program at Dartmouth College Tuck Business School in December 2020, Taylor didn’t know what to expect from GLAAACC BEP.

He was pleasantly surprised.  Taylor said while the Dartmouth program showed him how to run a business, GLAAACC BEP had a much more comprehensive and hands-on approach.

“The best part about BEP, while informative and providing the fundamentals for business, was also the mentorship, the actual caring, connecting, meeting you where you’re at, and holding your hand, because this process can often be daunting . . .. That was remarkable,” Taylor said.

Brittany Carter, owner of OBP Services, a large order food delivery logistics service that partners with chefs, caterers, and restaurants was also a 2023 – 2024 BEP graduate.  Carter started OBP Services after she was approached to form a logistics service as a means to develop a franchise business.  She said starting her own business was a natural progression.

GLAAACC BEP 2024 graduating class (Courtesy photo)

Carter learned about GLAAACC BEP after attending a virtual graduation during the COVID shutdown.  As a new business owner, Carter was looking at different chambers of commerce.  The information from the graduation ceremony piqued her interest enough to join GLAAACC and apply for BEP.

Of the eight program modules, Carter said the module on how small business owners can use artificial intelligence as a tool had the most impact.

“The session left me feeling more empowered with a resource that could help me make my dollars go farther and also to have better management of bringing on an actual human being,” Carter said.  “BEP is a great collaborative and educational space to help support businesses. It helped me in understanding the resources that could be available to help me grow.”

The generous support of sponsors enables GLAAACC to provide BEP – a $15,000 value per business– at no cost to participants.

“We’re committed to investing in new programs and continuing to expand opportunities to further drive positive change in underserved communities,” said BEP Title sponsor T-Mobile’s Vice President of Strategic Alliances and External Affairs Clint Odom. “We’re proud to once again partner with GLAAACC to champion African American businesses,” he said.

Other BEP sponsors include presenting sponsor Wells Fargo and program sponsors JP Morgan Chase, Citizens Business Bank, Microsoft, SoCalGas, Southern California Edison, and US Bank.

BEP participants learn how to grow and scale their business, are provided with access to capital and financing, receive private business coaching, learn effective marketing, advertising and social media techniques and much more.   Applications for the 2024 – 2025 BEP are currently being accepted through July 31, 2024.  Visit for more details to apply for BEP.