WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Nearly two-thirds of new businesses opening today won’t survive for ten years.

Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show, 20% of new businesses opening right now won’t even make it for two years. Those are daunting numbers for entrepreneurs who’ve dreamed of opening their own business, but there’s a group in the Triad that’s reaching out, giving business owners hope, and more importantly, the tools to survive with the help of the Winston-Salem Foundation.

“We do this number one because we are passionate about helping folks, we’re passionate about seeing entrepreneurs not just get the doors open but keep the doors open,” says Calvin Patterson, President of the Winston-Salem Black Chamber of Commerce. “We’re passionate about lifting the tide for all boats in our Triad area in terms of successful entrepreneurship.”

The chamber started with a small meeting in a library back in 2002 and focused on how to give minority-owned businesses a stronger chance to thrive. Patterson says today, the nonprofit provides an important bridge for small businesses on the road to big success — one no other agency can provide.

“What we feel is there is a gap, there is a need, there is a niche to be filled specifically for African American businesses, so-called BIPOC, and that gap is filled by us.”

BIPOC stands for “Black, Indigenous, People of Color” owned businesses. Numbers show eight out of ten will fail in the first 18 months. Patterson says that’s why he strives to build a one-on-one relationship that goes beyond members paying dues and having a business listed in a database. He says the chamber helps provide access to tools for success including business boot camps and a training program called “Road to Business Resilience.” 

Chamber member Paulette Duggins says programs like those made a huge difference when she started her own nonprofit. The first two years, she says she felt alone. Then she learned about the black chamber.

“To start it from an emotional standpoint, you do feel like you’re all by yourself,” she says. “But joining the Black Chamber of Commerce gives me a sense of comfort knowing that people are here when I need them.”

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Duggins started the Angelic Warrior Foundation after her daughter died from colorectal cancer. She says the chamber’s programs gave her more than the tools to succeed. They gave her a sense of belonging when she needed it most. “And also gives me like strength as far as getting help because it’s like I’m not an island all to myself which is the way I felt in the beginning.”

Patterson says that’s how many business owners feel in the beginning and why so many small business owners have joined his organization to take advantage of the resources. “We’re a smaller organization and we have over 100 members but we’re rapidly growing, and there’s a need for that one-on-one relationship that we provide with our members.”

The Winston-Salem Foundation supports the Chamber and has provided more than 65-thousand dollars in grants to help black business owners get the training and assistance they need to survive.  If you want more information, check out the Winston-Salem Black Chamber of Commerce website. It’s