37th Annual Harlem Business Alliance Gala (261480)
Credit: Contributed

For the past 37 years, the Harlem Business Alliance has honored Black brilliance with their annual awards gala. This year’s theme, The Art of Success, was a sold-out event (May 2) at Mist Harlem, spotlighting the preeminence of Black creatives.

The HBA celebrated five outstanding individuals who have unapologetically changed the landscape with talent and swagger. This year’s honorees were Sean “Diddy” Combs, COMBS ENTERPRISES; Vy Higginsen, Mama Foundation for the Arts; Karen Hunter, Chairman’s Award, Mogul and Sirius XM Urban View; Ericka Pittman, AQUAhydrate; and Robin Williams, Uptown Dance Academy.

The Harlem Business Alliance has pledged its service as an advocate for the preservation and retention of Harlem’s business community for more than 37 years. Programs include, but are not limited to, Harlem’s first co-working space; first adult STEM program; 10,000 entrepreneurs served through programs and services; 2,000 entrepreneurs served through one-on-one counseling; and more than 1,200 workshops. With HBA’s guidance, their clients’ small businesses bloomed from concept to tangible product, street vendor to store owner and food enthusiast to food artisan. Disrupt Harlem Code Squad was launched in fall 2015, the first hyper-focused program to connect young adults with entrepreneurship options via technology. Lastly, the HBA acknowledges when you educate a woman, you educate a generation—this notion inspired the groundbreaking Lillian Project, a tailored entrepreneur incubator for native-born African-American women.