We had the good fortune of connecting with Salena Pryor and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Salena, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The Black Small Business Associations of California was born out of shear frustration at the fact that the Black small business community did not have access to information about the resources available to them as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I received several calls from many of my friends who were panicked, and realized that they were locked out of several programs due to eligibility requirements. After starting BSBA, we began to see that many business owners needed essential services and support, help pivoting and changing how they do business, basic business fundamental training, and/or technical assistance. We started creating partnerships with other organizations to ensure we were able to provide information and troubleshoot issues, and increase the chances of approval. The biggest challenge I see and want to resolve is the access to information gap that is pervasive across the board for the African American community. This is the very reason that we don’t know about important programs and policies. My goal is to educate, engage and empower our community to become knowledgable and take advantage of every available resource.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started my career working in the CA State Assembly for Assemblymember Carl Washington in 2001. Almost 10 years later, at the behest of my Chief-of-Staff, Mr. Curtis Earnest, I went back to college to finish my degree. A college dropout, and single mother, I always had the drive to do what I needed to provide for myself and my son, but I knew I could do more. I was promoted from Legislative Aide to California Legislative Black Caucus Consultant where I honed my skills. During that time, I also served as the Executive Director of the California Legislative Black Caucus Institute, and learned how to create and implement outreach programs. I finished my Bachelor of Arts degree in Government in 2013, with the support of Senator Curren Price, Senator Rod Wright and Mrs. Cine Ivery (my last Chief-of-Staff). The day before I graduated I received a job offer working for one of the biggest unions in California, and ended up working for a well known civil rights organization.

Although my journey was not easy, and I have spent many nights crying, it was all worth it. Had I not experienced the trials, I would not have had the courage to step out on my own and do something different. I want the world to know that just because people count you out, you don’t have to accept their narrative of who you are. God gives us the ability to reinvent ourselves everyday. Our job is to be better than we were yesterday and that thing that He has purposed us to do. We are not defined by our experiences or others. We define ourselves.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a very private person, and with the pandemic and increased COVID numbers, I try not to do too many outings. My Operations Director, Lina Doyle is the social butterfly of the office. I have to check with her and get back to you.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to shout out my sister, Lorreen Pryor, President of the Black Youth Leadership Project. She advocates for African American students in California, addressing suspension/expulsion rates, criminalization, and disciplinary policies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many African American students became depressed dealing with the adjustment of living in this new world. BYLP in addition to their advocacy arm, instituted several support networks to help students cope with feelings of depression, isolation and unfair policies meant to keep them from receiving instruction. Lorreen, also helped me start BSBA, and worked with me to help address issues created by the pandemic within specific industries where we presented resources, and also gave business owners a platform to give each other ideas to pivot.

Website: www.bsba-ca.org

Instagram: @bsba_ca

Linkedin: BSBA CA

Twitter: @bsba-ca

Facebook: @BSBACA

Youtube: @BSBA

Image Credits
Salena Pryor, President Black Small Business Association of California

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