Chapel Hill is home to a number of Black-owned businesses, many of which are community-oriented. During Black History Month, they continue to give back.
Chiru Joe, The Coalition NC and Home School Guide are a few of the town's businesses founded by Black Chapel Hill residents.
Other Black-owned businesses, including Vegan Flava Cafe, Yumphoria, Ms. Mastic’s Crystals & More and Blend of Soul, also serve residents in Orange County.
In 2020, Priscilla Ngera started Chiru Joe. Chiru Joe, which Ngera said is named after a nickname given to her by her grandmother, creates products such as non-alcoholic fruit ciders, jams, jellies, fruit butters and honey.
Weaver Street Market, which has locations in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough and Raleigh, features Ngera's products in its stores.
Since she founded Chiru Joe, Ngera is inspired when she puts a "smile on somebody's face."
Originally from Kenya, she said her family has always opened their doors to give food to those in need. Giving back is something she is continuing to do with her business today.
When schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ngera said her daughter, who was at East Chapel Hill High School at the time, began providing food for students who had relied on cafeteria food.
In 3 months, Ngera said she and her daughter put together 40 boxes worth of free meals and her daughter delivered each of them.
Ngera also said her daughter’s love for giving back was influenced by her grandfather, who taught them both how to be there for people and treat others kindly.
“We started having to help people from a young age, and that has been in the family for a long time,” she said.
During the month of February, Ngera said she and her daughter are continuing to help those in need by distributing Chiru Joe juices and honey to unhoused people.
“I believe that if you share the good with other people, most of the time they will also share it with somebody else,” she said.
The Coalition NC
Jaimie Lee, the owner of The Coalition NC, said she is also working to help the community, but in a different way.
The organization specializes in Krav Maga, an Israeli-based self-defense system, and is located on East Franklin Street. By hosting workshops, group seminars and training for men, women and children, Lee said she helps her clients prepare for violence.
“It’s meant to help the everyday person learn rules to deal with violence that unfortunately happens every day,” she said. "We just try to keep ourselves vigilant and prepared.”
Lee said she has been certified to teach all over the United States and in Israel. Through her teaching, she said she has been able to help clients reach their goals, which range from excelling in physical tests to gaining confidence.
She said The Coalition NC is involved in the community, and her teachings are her way of trying to give back and help people.
“If you don’t have to deal with violence, it’s a wonderful gift,” she said. “But if you do, it’s like being able to swim, it’s not a skill you want to not have when you need it.”
Home School Guide
Bathssheba Barber, the owner of Home School Guide and a former Montessori teacher of 20 years, also said she seeks to help the community through her business.
The business caters to helping families and educators learn more about teaching through its consulting services.
“My goal for that was creating peaceful school environments and also serving and supporting families who are homeschooling as well as educators in North Carolina,” she said.
Barber said she provides monthly lessons for families in core learning areas depending on the subscription plan they sign up for.
“I feel very strongly that native history or Black history is taught all year round and not just the month of February,” she said.
She explained that all of her lessons focus on Montessori teaching, which she said involves self-direction, independence and hands-on learning.
Going beyond just helping students, Barber said she supports a Montessori school in Durham, mentors teachers and is instructing a Montessori teaching certification training course.
“We need more educators who are really passionate about what they’re doing versus just getting a paycheck,” she said.
Barber said children help inspire her to keep going.
Barber also said she has experienced a lot of support from others while running her business— she noted that "it feels great" to be a Black business owner.
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