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Kansas City businessman represents city during roundtable on minority entrepreneurship at White House

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Posted at 5:27 PM, May 16, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A local entrepreneur represented Kansas City on the national stage.

Just weeks out from opening Vine Street Brewing Co. with his two friends, Kemet Coleman was chosen by Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas to speak in the Young Men of Color Roundtable on Entrepreneurship at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

“It was just really awesome and a dream come true,” said Coleman. “I was with a group of about 20 other leaders from across the country that represented minority-owned businesses — predominantly Black-owned businesses. So I got to connect with them, and you know, really having that wealth of knowledge in one room at the same time, being that close to a position of power, I thought was a really good opportunity.”

The men in attendance talked about entrepreneurship, what worked for their businesses and what did not, as well as some of the unique challenges they faced as minority businessmen.

“Obviously, access to capital was a huge topic. Government contract was another huge topic. Dealing with the reality that a lot of Black-owned businesses don’t have generational wealth, so kind of that first seed funding that you may get from your friends and family kinda doesn’t exist. So how can the government help in those regards,” said Coleman.

The goal of the discussion was to help the administration better understand the needs of minority entrepreneurs and what resources would best benefit them. Vice President Kamala Harris and her staff stated they will continue to make great efforts to support our country’s small businesses.

“The leaders at this table have shown grit and creativity in terms of pulling together their resources, to growing an idea into something that actually benefits communities and all of societies,” said Harris.

Lucas, who personally picked Coleman to make the trip, said he hopes Coleman’s presence at the White House will bring future investment into KC’s urban core and entertainment community.

“The federal government, the Small Business Administration in particular, can unlock millions of dollars in potential investment into our community. So my ask will be of the administration — how do we make sure that the SBA is working more actively to help, not just people of color, but women-owned businesses, returning citizens and others,” said Lucas.

For thousands of young, Black men who wish to embark on their own entrepreneurial endeavors, Coleman said even his business started out as just a vision.

“Find a problem, try to solve it and make sure you’re passionate about it,” said Coleman.