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Our work continues

A little more than 12 months ago, we opened the doors at Provident1898.

Our grand opening celebration was held on April 18, 2019, in the shadow of the gas leak explosion two blocks north of our facility that rocked the downtown Durham community just a week before.

Now, we have a bittersweet feeling as we reflect on the first year of operating Durham’s majority Black-owned, Black-led coworking space in another time of crisis and loss of life.

We are reminded of the year 1898, a year marked by tragedy and triumph. On November 10, 1898, the infamous coup d’etat in Wilmington, NC was carried out by white supremacists who beat and killed Black residents, and destroyed their property and businesses with fire. In a single day, decades of economic development and political advances for the Black community in Wilmington (the largest city in the state at the time, with a majority Black population) were wiped out and would not return.

Also, in 1898, a group of Black community leaders in Durham, NC, led by John Merrick—a formerly enslaved man—and Dr. Aaron Moore—the first Black physician in Durham—pooled their resources to create the NC Mutual and Provident Association. Their goal was to provide burial insurance for their Black neighbors to mitigate the financial crises created when paying for funeral expenses. What began as a mutual aid strategy to provide dignity in death within the Black community grew into the largest Black-owned financial institution in the U.S.—the NC Mutual Life Insurance Company. NC Mutual has been in existence for more than 120 years and was the cornerstone of Durham’s Black Wall Street businesses.

We’re continuing our work for the black business ecosystem.

The legacy of Black Wall Street is our shared inheritance.

Provident1898 strives to sow this inheritance into the growth of today’s Black entrepreneurs through its efforts to create and protect Black-owned spaces for the cultivation of new ventures. Provident1898 has created a 15,000-square foot facility in the historic landmark Tower at Mutual Plaza that is the icon of Durham’s Black Wall Street legacy. We chose this home because it is symbolic of the community’s triumph as the first Black-owned, Black-operated high-rise building in the South that was integrated with white and black enterprises.

During this time you may be asking yourself how you can actively participate in dismantling racism by reallocating resources and supporting Black-owned and led enterprises.

Our First Year

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Members Engaged

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Trainings provided for entrepreneurs

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Socially conscious film screenings

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Young entrepreneurs engaged

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Community events hosted

Join our community where your presence contributes to a transformative shared workspace.

Bring your ideas, projects and ambitions, and let us bring you a Class A office environment and full-service experience in which to launch your business, expand your operations, or make your next client presentation or investor pitch. And be on your grind shoulder-to-shoulder with a diversity of “coworkers” from whose lived experiences you can build cultural bridges.

In an adaptive reuse of what was originally a cafeteria and auditorium, our facility offers 22 dedicated office suites, 7 shared conference rooms and phone rooms, a kitchenette and lounge for a diversity of small business, nonprofit and start-up companies. We offer a variety of membership tiers and price points accessible to wherever you are on the spectrum:

  • Small business…consider a Dedicated Office Suite with on-site parking
  • Solopreneur or remote worker…consider Coworking with 24/7 access
  • Side hustler…consider our Nights/Weekends plan
  • Community group…consider an event/meeting rental package
  • Explorer…consider our GROW virtual learning platform

All Provident1898 members also have access to a diverse network of Venture Coaches who provide practical guidance on company formation, funding, operations, and growth in confidential, judgement-free setting to individuals or small teams. If you are not in need of the space yourself, consider how you could sponsor someone else launching their next big thing.

When you join the Provident1898 community, your membership is an investment in a local majority-Black-owned business* that circulates those dollars within the community among other local and minority-owned enterprises. What 400+ years of Black American history—made poignant by current events—have taught us is that the injustices borne by Black people and marked on Black bodies are rooted in economics. In a capitalist society, inequities of ownership translate to inequities of outcomes. Want to help break the cycle of violence? Own your future and help Black people own theirs.

Remember, we’ve been here before. Find the seed of your resistance and join with us to plant it and help it grow. Welcome to Provident1898.

Carl Webb, Peter Cvelich, Dewayne Washington
Owners of Provident1898

*We are the three local owners of Provident1898—two Black and one White—and we aspire for others to also find business partnerships that bridge the color divide

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