National Black Business Month celebrates Black entrepreneurs

August is National Black Business Month, a time to celebrate Black entrepreneurs and their contributions, and Tampa Bay continues to add Black-owned businesses to the local economy.

For Dr. Vondalyn Wright, going from pharmacist to pharmacy owner is a dream turned reality. She owns Health Matters Pharmacy in Tampa. While she’s been here for five years, Wright said getting started was not easy.

"It means everything to be able to serve my community as an African-American pharmacist because trust is an issue sometimes," said Wright. "I thought that I would get some startup capital as a Black business owner. That is impossible. I learned the hard way that starting up a business they want you to prove yourself first especially as a Black business owner."

Owning her own pharmacy is a dream come true for Wright.

Owning her own pharmacy is a dream come true for Wright.

She said many other Black pharmacy owners she knows have closed up shop. She’s thankful her business is expanding, outgrowing her current location on 50th street and soon moving into a new building about double the size in east Tampa.

"The location is going to be called The Well," said Wright, who added the new, larger location on 40th Street will open this fall. "So it’s going to be more of a medical hub where we not only have our health matters pharmacy, but we’re going to have other entities in that location. So, you can come in, you can see the doctor, and you can walk out with your medication in hand."

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Wright said it will be bringing healthcare to an underserved area.

"To have a place that they can walk to and pick up their prescription is unheard of in East Tampa. People don’t want to be in East Tampa," she said.

During National Black Business Month, it’s a time that was founded to raise the profile of Black-owned businesses and recognize the contributions made to the local economies.

Wright is opening a second location in the fall.

Wright is opening a second location in the fall.

At Green Book of Tampa Bay, that sentiment is every day. The organization works to make Black owned businesses easy to find online through a directory, and FOX 13 first highlighted their mission in 2020.

"The Green Book has grown quite a bit since the last time we talked. At this point we’re at over a thousand businesses listed in the directory," said Hillary Van Dyke, co-founder of Green Book of Tampa Bay.

Van Dyke said they host a lot of mixers with business owners.

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"We just hope that the work we do keeps helping Black folks and Black businesses rise up, and then hopefully the whole community will be more prosperous and more equal through our efforts," explained Van Dyke.

Most of the businesses listed are in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, but they hope to add more from Pasco, Manatee and Sarasota counties, Van Dyke said.

"I think eventually we would want to work ourselves out of being necessary, you know," said Van Dyke. "But until Tampa Bay has more equitable distribution of economic vitality, the work will be necessary."