In June, the Portland Development Commission launched an online platform called Mercatus Collective that aims to highlight the efforts of local entrepreneurs of color through storytelling and a comprehensive directory.
A launch event at Service Studio PDX in the Kerns neighborhood featured speakers Intisar Abioto, a photographer and storyteller, and local business owners Chris Guinn of Dwell Realty and Sita Symonette of Black Pearl Acupuncture.
“Most of the time when we hear about vibrant bootstrapping entrepreneurs in Portland, it’s the dominant culture sharing their stories and aspirations,” said Tory Campbell, PDC’s senior business development coordinator. “Rarely do we see ethnically diverse entrepreneurs sharing their struggles and best practices.”
The Mercatus website features a directory and interviews with entrepreneurs, presenting a collective narrative and fresh perspective on minority business ownership.
“Mercatus is designed to connect this professional community and their talents, goods and services with wider markets,” said Campbell. “At the same time, it celebrates the determination, work and resiliency that go into running a business.”
Mercatus began as a collaborative partnership between the PDC, Joy Alise Davis of Design+Culture Lab, and independent artists like Abioto. The project partners hope to develop an inventory of 500 businesses over the next several months.
To see the site, visit www.mercatuspdx.com. Local entrepreneurs are invited to participate in the site by submitting their business for an interview.