The first Black-owned sliced bread business in America isn’t just about making money. It’s also about giving back to the community.
Founders of the Chicago-based Black Bread Company are going to Chicago Public Schools to talk to students about their success. They are also offering investors a low-cost way to buy shares in the company through an equity crowdfunding campaign.
“You can start a business, be successful in business and still be about your people and where you come [from],” Charles Alexander, a founder of the Black Bread Company, told CBS Chicago.
Jamel Lewis and Mark Edmond round out the founder’s group.
The enterprise started in February 2021, more than 90 years after the unveiling of the first bread-slicing machine, which took place in 1928, and the sale of Wonder Bread’s first commercially sold product in 1930.
Alexander said their company wants to visit 30 Chicago public schools in 30 days to show Windy City students they, too, can be successful, according to WBBM-TV. That would bring the three Black Bread Company partners back to their roots since they all graduated from Kenwood Academy in Chicago.
Additionally, they are offering the public a total of 10 percent actual equity in the business, allowing potential investors to participate for as little as $250 a share. “We are intentional with having a low minimum in order to give everyone an opportunity to buy shares regardless of their economic status,” Alexander says on the Black Bread Company website.
Their plan seems to be working. Lewis told WBBM-TV that more than 1,000 people have invested over $700,000 in the venture, which is now valued at $51 million.
“We’re proud of that, being part of our community learning and growing together and being open to new ideas and ownership,” said Lewis.
According to CBS Chicago, the bread is distributed from a warehouse in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and sold in 70 stores across the region, plus shipped internationally.
The company gained notoriety in February when Alexander, Lewis and Edmond appeared on Profiled: The Black Man, a new four-part Discovery+ docuseries created by the Oprah Winfrey Network. Then, in March, the trio appeared on Ellen, where host Ellen DeGeneres presented them with a $20,000 check to support their business operations.
“When we launched, we literally had $1.87,” Lewis told DeGeneres. “But we pulled together all of our resources, our savings. Our families have made sacrifices for us to be here, and that’s how serious we are about this company and presenting something that can change generations for people that look like us around the world.”
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