Business incubator for black woman entrepreneurs opens on Broadway
By Abdi Mohamed Staff Reporter
Dozens of community members gathered together Monday, Aug. 19 at the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (ECMN) for the unveiling of Da Hive, a coworking space for black women born out of the Black Women’s Wealth Alliance (BWWA).
Da Hive is an initiative led by Kenya McKnight, the founder of BWWA, and serves as a platform to incubate some of the ventures launched by women who have been a part of BWWA. Located in the ECMN, the space consists of coworking areas, a quiet room, and a conference room all of which is designed to encourage a collaborative and educational environment for participants.
McKnight is focused on supporting black women entrepreneurs in the community. BWWA has held several workshops and programs aimed at improving business skills among black women in the community, but McKnight saw that women needed more support after the classes ended. With that in mind, McKnight launched Da Hive to continue the work of BWWA and help program participants on the next steps of launching their own ventures and finding ways to sustain and scale their endeavors. “We’re driving a lot of entrepreneurial and economic energy, but we don’t have a place to incubate it in, to grow it beyond ideas. That’s the critical gap we saw in our work,” she said.
Da Hive’s announcement on Aug. 19 was met with great excitement as community stakeholders and public officials attended the opening of the location and shared words of support. Da Hive is funded by dollars from BWWA, which has received many local resources. Last year they landed a $75,000 grant from the City of Minneapolis and other resources from organizations like the McKnight Foundation, Thrivent Financial, Nexus Community Partners, and Lutheran Social Service. Some of these resources along with membership donations is how Da Hive plans to sustain itself on the outset, but McKnight continues to be in talks with other organizations interested in supporting her work.
Keiona Cook graduated from the BWWA Wealth Academy, a three-month program aimed at giving black women entrepreneurs the skills needed to scale a business and other aspects of running a business. Cook operates the nonprofit Lovely’s Sewing and Arts Collective, an organization that teaches youth 4-16 the art of sewing and yoga. Program participants also sell their creations and learn financial literacy through their work.
Cook shared her excitement for Da Hive’s opening and encourages other black women to utilize the space. “Creating a foundational space where black women can be expressive, accepted, and creative is very empowering,” she said. “Don’t just come there one or twice, actually make the space your own.”
Since Da Hive’s opening, McKnight has received more offers of support from the community in the form of books and individuals willing to teach workshops. The space currently has hours listed from 8am-8pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Those interested in joining Da Hive can learn more here.