For the past ten years, the Independence Business Alliance (“IBA”) has served as the LGBT business community’s Chamber of Commerce for the Greater Philadelphia area. Its goals include providing opportunities, access and resources to LGBT professionals and allies in the Greater Philadelphia area, while promoting economic development, growth, diversity and leadership in the region.
The mission of the organization is to promote Greater Philadelphia’s LGBT business and leadership communities to enhance financial opportunities, foster diversity, develop leadership and collaboration; and, advocate for positive change. An affiliate of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the IBA has acted as a membership-based business advocacy organization dedicated to making the Philadelphia region an influential and diverse LGBT business community with an impact on economic development, equal rights and policy issues.
Just over a year and a half ago, Zach Wilcha took on the role of first-ever Executive Director of the IBA. His role, in a staff of two, is to manage the Board, membership, and business connections as they provide opportunities for local LGBT and promote business equality. As the voice and face of the organization, Zach tries his hardest to get to know the members well to represent them on issues like business equality, supplier diversity, and best practices in the workplace, among others. He’s particularly proud of the steps they are taking to diversity their membership and Board.
When asked about their biggest challenge, Zach said, “We are an organization in its growth phase, and our Board and member engagement provides us with far more great ideas than our small, dedicated staff has the bandwidth to execute. It’s a good problem to have!”
“I believe the IBA makes it biggest impact in a couple different areas. We provide a safe, serious, but not stodgy space for LGBT business networking. We have countless success stories that come from the connections made there. In this time of shifting political landscapes, we’ve also been a voice of advocacy for business equality on a local and state level. Our hope is that our legacy will someday include having the City of Philadelphia join other municipalities in including LGBT businesses as a disadvantaged class in contracting. Also, at the beginning of 2017, we took steps to create two unique programs to help the IBA diversify within the LGBT community: a collaboration with PHLDiversity in programming to increase racial diversity and a revolutionary program we’re calling TransWork which will concentrate on helping trans individuals find work within our business membership and entrepreneurial resources. The program is in the formative stages, and we’ve been forming a committee of IBA members to help govern and guide program development with support from IBA staff,” said Zach.
Next month IBA will celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of the local LGBT business community at its 10th Anniversary Celebration, entitled IBA10. This first time, premiere event will be held at the historic Down Town Club of Philadelphia on Wednesday evening, May 10, 2017, from 6:00-9:00PM, and will be the largest LGBT event of its kind ever to be held there. Delicious and plentiful food will be served throughout the evening while several open bars all night will cater to guests. IBA10 will feature: dinner by Cescaphe and three-hour, top shelf open bar, live entertainment throughout the night, and the presentation of the 7th annual PNC Bank $10,000 LGBT Business Award, given by PNC Bank to an IBA member in the LGBT business community.
Zach is most excited about a special guest appearance by Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post/MSNBC Journalist, Jonathan Capehart, and the presentation of the IBA Influencer Award to him.
The general public can take part in the celebration as well, there’s still time to buy tickets! https://www.thinkiba.com/event/iba10-10th-anniversary-celebration/
On IBA’s future Zach had this to say, “My hope is that the need for an LGBT chamber of commerce will have radically shifted in 10 years. Rather than fighting for business equality and demanding justice for the most marginalized individuals in our community, we will be able to celebrate the progress we’ve made while continuing to create the space for our community to thrive economically and entrepreneurially.”
PIDC is a proud supporter of Philadelphia’s LGBT business community. As members of IBA, we are pleased to partner to connect entrepreneurs to knowledge and resources to help them grow and develop in Philadelphia. PIDC is excited to work with Zach and looking forward to collaborating with IBA in reaching new businesses.