The Women Behind Minority Business Growth in Houston

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 3/24/2017, 6:28 a.m.
Being in business for yourself is hard. It is always helpful to have a mentor and some assistance to navigate ...

Being in business for yourself is hard. It is always helpful to have a mentor and some assistance to navigate the path to get to your success story. Business owners in Houston are fortunate in that respect to have a plethora of resources at hand to assist in that department. Some of the main resources for minorities are in the form of our chambers. The Greater Houston Black Chamber (GHBC) and the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (HHCC) are avenues that entrepreneurs need to seek out to reach that pinnacle level of achievement.

Highlighting these chambers during the month of March is fitting since it is Women’s History Month and both are operating by two dynamic women power players. Courtney Johnson Rose is only the second woman to lead the GHBC since following the first woman Vernita Harris in 2016. The noted realtor and community leader chairs the board for the second oldest Black Chamber in the nation. Dr. Laura G. Murillo heads up the largest Hispanic Chamber in the country. Under Dr. Murillo’s leadership, the Chamber continues to set unprecedented records.

Rose serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the GHBC during a time of fast growth for African American women entrepreneurs. Many stats have noted how this market is one of the fastest growing sectors. “There is an energy that is around African American women entrepreneurship,” said Rose. Needless to say, she feels it is both an honor and privilege to serve the Chamber in such a capacity at this time. In her role, Rose provides leadership in resources to the members of the Chamber and gives guidance to the board.

Rose has followed the legacy of the GHBC to remain the voice of Black business under the pillars of access, advocacy, and awareness. One of her administration’s greatest achievements has been the Buy Black Directory that was launched this year. The directory serves as a resource guide and a directory of the 800 members of the Greater Houston Black Chamber. “Our goal with the book was for it to be a resource tool for those that are wanting to support Black businesses to be easily accessible and find them through a book that you can purchase for $20 or a free online website www.HoustonBuyBlack.com that will have a listing of all businesses there and available.”

In addition to giving black business owners greater opportunities for economic growth, Rose wanted to expand the brand of the GHBC. She is well on way to do that with the establishment of the first branch of the GHBC in Missouri City. “We are very excited to launch our first branch of the Chamber,” said Rose who looks forward to going into the Missouri City market to do specific programming, outreach and provide resources for entrepreneurs of that community. The Missouri City branch of the GHBC is set to launch July 2017.

Equally as busy is Dr. Murillo with the HHCC. Serving as President and CEO since 2007, Dr. Murillo is most celebrated for the increase in Chamber membership, revenue, and collaborative partners. Through its various national, regional and local partners, the HHCC is able to provide its members with numerous business opportunities, education and training to reach the next level.

More than just an avenue to bring business growth to its membership, the Chamber is an active voice for Hispanic business owners on civic and community issues. “The job of the chamber is to really be a convener, to help people understand the issues, to gather information and help people understand what can be a complex issue so that Houston and the country continue to thrive,” said Dr. Murillo in a previous interview with Houston Style.

A way they bring people to discuss the issues is through their various programming. Recently they hosted an Energy Summit and Business Expo bringing together giants in the energy industry with small business owners to address the needs of today. Their Innovation and Health Summit was another groundbreaking event highlighting the new trends and technologies in the health care to help fuel the future of the industry.

Just as African American women entrepreneurs are a fast growing market so are Hispanic female entrepreneurs. Something Dr. Murillo has recognized for a long time. “With everything we do is a conscience effort to make sure that women are represented in what has traditionally been a male-dominated area but also that we are represented on different boards and commissions throughout the city not just the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board,” she said.

Knowing that women-owned businesses account for more than 30% of all businesses in Houston, the HHCC hosts the Women’s Leadership Conference and Business Expo to bring these liked minds together. Being held this summer, the expo showcases the success of female entrepreneurs but also empowers the next generation to get out and start their businesses.

Rose and Murillo are two power movers who are advocates for pushing the agenda for more than just their communities but for all to advance for a greater Houston. Find out more information about these Chambers and member opportunities online at www.ghbcc.com and www.houstonhispanicchamber.com.