MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — August is National Black Business Month, highlighting black-owned businesses across the country, and a Myrtle Beach business owner wants to serve as a role model.
Dawit Haile opened his convenience store, Quickway Food Market, on Mr. Joe White Avenue in Myrtle Beach and is part of the group of minority owners of 12.79% of startup companies in South Carolina, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data done by Self Financial.
“There’s a lot of problems owning any kind of business whether you’re black or white, but as a minority business owner it’s very difficult,” Haile said.
Haile moved to the United States from Ethiopia in 1979. He said community support while constantly working hard at his goals is what helped him succeed.
“It’s not the skin color that makes you who you want to be or what you want to do to achieve as your goals,” Haile said. “I work hard — as hard as anyone else.”
Haile spends every day at his store, working as many as 75 hours a week.
Now, Haile wants to pay it forward. He sees himself as a role model for the younger generation of black and other minority community members.
“[I want to] inspire the neighborhood and the community — people who are my own color,” Haile said. “They see me here and hopefully they take that and do more than what I’m doing here.”
While Haile said being a black business owner is not easy, it can be rewarding with the right support. He wants young entrepreneurs to follow their passions because community members can help make dreams a reality.
“If you have a dream and you’re a black person in the community who wants to be successful I really encourage you to show it, and be that young person that’s really trying hard to come in and be somebody in life,” Haile said. “And I’m sure all the community around — the Grande Dunes and anywhere else — they’ll support you. They’ll support us.”
Haile wants to become one of the community members offering support, hoping to fund a college scholarship for young men and women of the neighborhood surrounding his store near Futrell Park.
An organization looking to offer black entrepreneurs help getting businesses up and running is the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (MBACC). Karen Riordan, MBACC President and CEO, said the chamber wants to see more minority-owned members.
“We are seeing more and more minority-owned businesses join the chamber, but we’re not where I’d like us to be,” Riordan said. “If we have more businesses that are black owned in our chamber membership, we can do more to support them, actively promoting them, driving other businesses to them.”
Riordan says diversity, equity and inclusion has become an emphasis at the chamber. Two events about diversity in business are coming up next week.