Black History Month offers us a profound opportunity to not only reflect upon the past but to forge pathways for future prosperity and equity. I’m Naquana Borrero, Director of Development and Communications for Jazz in Arizona/The Nash, the proud founder of Bella Vita Consulting Group and the first African American recipient of the Greater Phoenix Chamber’s ATHENA Award in the Young Professional category. Through my journey and the broader narrative of Black entrepreneurship, I want to share with you the indispensable need for access to capital, the transformative impact of corporate philanthropy, and the pivotal role of local organizations in nurturing an inclusive business ecosystem.

Bella Vita Consulting Group: A Narrative of Empowerment

As the Director of Development and Communications for The Nash, I spend much of my time partnering with local businesses and facilitating philanthropic change as we build the cultural center for jazz performance and education in the Valley. However, I am also a business owner! My business, Bella Vita Consulting Group embodies the spirit and challenges of Black entrepreneurship. Started in my college dorm room, to support me financially while I pursued my studies in classical voice, we now champion diversity in philanthropy, bringing a community-centric approach to the Valleys nonprofit sector. Our path mirrors the experiences of many Black business owners, striving for success amidst systemic barriers yet driven by an unwavering determination to succeed.

The Brookings Institute Insights: Highlighting the Gap

Insights from a 2022 study from the Brookings Institute starkly illuminate the disparities facing Black-owned businesses. Despite Black Americans constituting a significant portion of the U.S. population, Black-owned businesses are disproportionately underrepresented. This discrepancy is even more pronounced for Black women entrepreneurs like me who, while leading in the growth of all women-owned businesses, still face considerable challenges in securing capital and opportunities. These statistics underscore the urgent need for targeted support and equitable access to financial resources to bridge the gap and foster a thriving Black business community. The 2022 State of Black Business report, released by local data nonprofit “The State of Black Arizona”, indicates more than 50% of Black business owners struggle with a lack of access to capital, driven by low levels of personal wealth and disparities in creditworthiness. The report also indicated that Black entrepreneurs have the lowest “opportunity share” meaning they are more likely to start a business out of necessity rather than opportunity – of any race or ethnicity. According to the data in the report, in 2022 there were 1,019 Black- owned businesses. If they reached parity with the population, there would be 4,945 such businesses in metro Phoenix. This is an issue that the entire business community should take ownership of.

The Critical Role of Access to Capital

Access to capital remains a formidable barrier for Black entrepreneurs, hampering their ability to start, sustain, and expand their businesses. Addressing this challenge requires a multifaceted approach, including enhanced corporate philanthropy, strategic partnerships, and the development of policies aimed at increasing financial inclusivity. By ensuring Black business owners have equitable access to funding, we lay the groundwork for innovation, job creation, and economic diversity.

Corporate Philanthropy and Diverse Boards: Catalysts for Change

Corporate philanthropy and the diversification of board directors are crucial in leveling the playing field for Black-owned businesses. Corporations have the resources and influence to effect significant change, offering financial support, mentorship, and access to networks that can propel Black businesses forward. In the wake of the George Floyd murder, over 40 billion dollars was pledged to Black owned businesses and Black-led organizations, data has yet to come in on how much of that has been distributed. Additionally, boards that reflect a diversity of experiences and perspectives are better positioned to understand and address the unique challenges faced by Black entrepreneurs, promoting policies that foster inclusivity and equity. I encourage each of you to assess your Boards and ensure they reflect the diversity of our community.

Celebrating Local Heroes: Archwood Exchange, Hustle PHX, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women

The Valley is full of amazing Black businesses and organizations, many of whom I have had the privilege of partnering with. The efforts of Archwood Exchange, Hustle PHX, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Phoenix Metropolitan Chapter are amazing examples of local organizations driving economic empowerment within the Black community here in the Valley.

  • Archwood Exchange has been a beacon of support for Black businesses in Phoenix. Their signature initiative, the Buy Black Marketplace, offers a vibrant platform for Black entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their products and services, connecting them directly with consumers passionate about supporting Black-owned businesses. This monthly event not only stimulates local economic activity but also strengthens community bonds.

Further expanding their commitment to economic empowerment, Archwood Exchange operates the ACRES Nonprofit, which provides small business education in areas such as e-commerce and retail readiness. Lastly, ACRES Store, housed on Roosevelt Row is a permanent retail space that provides Black-owned businesses with a consistent, brick and mortar location to sell their goods at the end of their training. This innovative approach not only offers entrepreneurs a lower barrier to entry into the retail world but also ensures the community has ongoing access to diverse products and services.

  • Hustle PHX underscores the importance of comprehensive entrepreneurial support, empowering business owners to overcome financial barriers and achieve sustainable growth. Their program is three-pronged focusing on providing “Intellectual Capital” through their financial education program, “Social Capital” through mentorship and coaching and finally “Financial Capital” by providing an accelerator program and business loan program.
  • The National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Phoenix Metropolitan Chapter focuses on the economic empowerment of Black women and girls. They provide financial literacy programming throughout the year, host a pitch contest for young girl entrepreneurs and with their annual Madam CJ Walker Event celebrates and supports Black women entrepreneurs in the Valley, highlighting the critical need for networks and resources dedicated to their success.

A Unified Call to Action

In closing, as we celebrate Black History Month, let us also commit to actionable steps that support Black businesses and work towards an equitable economic future.  Please visit the links for the organizations highlighted above as well as some of my favorite Black businesses in the Valley and find a way to support and partner with them. By investing in Black-owned businesses, advocating for diversity within corporate boards, and supporting organizations dedicated to Black economic empowerment, we can create a more inclusive and prosperous society for all.

Wishing you all a wonderful Black History Month!


Naquana’s Favorite Things(Black History Month Edition)!

Naquana Borrero, CFRE  is a passionate advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion within fundraising and philanthropy, working to uplift the Black business community through leadership and advocacy. She serves on the Board of Directors of Hope’s Crossing, as Co-Chair of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Phoenix Chapter, Co-Chair of Public Policy for the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and is immediate past President of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network- Phoenix Chapter. She is a 2022 Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and the current Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce ATHENA recipient. She is available for speaking engagements, workshops and trainings.

Contact Information:
Naquana Borrero, CFRE /

For more information on how you can be a part of these initiatives, please visit their websites:

www.bellavitaconsultinggroup.comBella Vita Consulting Group, LLC
www.archwoodexhange.comArchwood Exchange– Hustle Phoenix – National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Phoenix Metropolitan Chapter – State of Black Arizona


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