How Greenville Welcomes Diversity & Encourages Inclusion

Greenville meets all residents with outstretched arms and opportunities.

By
Lindsey Ross
On Tuesday, October 27, 2020 - 14:29
greenville

Meet Kenzie Biggins, founder of Worxbee, a subscription-based virtual executive assistant service, and Erica Berg, founder of Collective Music Solutions, which offers music packages for special events, such as weddings.

They may have vastly different backgrounds and business ideas but what they have in common is they’re successfully growing businesses in Greenville, a city known for not only embracing diversity, but for continuing to make it an inclusive place that promotes opportunity for all races, genders, ethnicities, national origins, ages, abilities, beliefs and sexual orientations.

Behind the community’s opportunity-rich, inclusive culture are nonprofits, such as CommunityWorks, which has given nearly $4 million in loans to small-business owners over the last 10 years, and a welcoming chamber of commerce that leads initiatives focused on promoting diversity and inclusion.

“The impetus for being able to establish a community that’s thriving, inclusive and progressive starts with education,” says Dr. Nika White, senior adviser to the Greenville Chamber’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiative.

The chamber holds a yearly Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summit, a full-day event that helps community leaders fully understand the context of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Another program available is the Minority Business Accelerator (MBA), of which Biggins and Berg are both graduates. Biggins, who participated in the 2017 cohort, even chose to move from her home in Atlanta to Greenville to take part in the program.

“The No. 1 reason I moved here was for the chamber program,” Biggins says. “When I think about quality of life, being in a community that’s really committed to growing minority-owned businesses, that took precedent over everything else as far as figuring out where we we're going to live.”

During the 12-month program, participants receive training to help them scale their businesses and are paired with a local entrepreneur coach.

“Being able to take topics learned in class and have a one-on-one conversation with someone who’d been there before and understood where my hang-ups and challenges were and could really push me and stretch me even more, made a huge difference,” Biggins says.

Biggins continues to stay in touch with her coach, asking her advice on business questions and serving under her on the MBA Advisory Council.

Berg, a participant of the 2019 cohort, calls the experience “invaluable” and her coach “an incredible human.”

“The class taught me to take a step back to look at goals, to evaluate what I had been doing, what was working, what wasn’t,” Berg says. “It helped re-center me to refocus on what I set out to do from the beginning, and that was nice. I think I needed that.”

If you'd like to learn more about the Greenville area, check out the latest edition of Greenville, SC: Live Here. Love Here.