Tag: African-American entrepreneurs

Wrongfully Arrested Starbucks Patrons Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson Settle with Philadelphia for $2 in Exchange for $200,000 Fund for Young Entrepreneurs

Image: Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson
Rashon Nelson, left, and Donte Robinson, right, sit on their attorney’s sofa as they pose for a portrait following an interview on April 18, 2018. (Jacqueline Larma / AP file) 

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to nbcnews.com, Rashon Nelson, 23, and Donte Robinson, 23, the two men whose arrest at a Starbucks last month set off a wave of protests against the coffee corporation for discrimination have reached a settlement with the city of Philadelphia, the Mayor’s Office stated today.They will each be paid a symbolic $1 and release the city and employees of all claims in exchange for the creation of a $200,000 fund that, through the help of a nonprofit organization, will assist young entrepreneurs in Philadelphia. Robinson and Nelson are to serve on the committee that will establish and award the grant, which will focus on starting a pilot curriculum for public high school students to attain the skills to become business owners.

The mayor’s office stated that Nelson, Robinson and their attorneys will not receive any payment from the grant funds. The money will come from the budget of the city’s Finance Department.

“I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the City in this productive manner,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our City, pain that would’ve resurfaced over and over again in protracted litigation, which presents significant legal risks and high financial and emotional costs for everyone involved.” He added that Robinson and Nelson themselves approached the city with the grant fund idea “in an attempt to make something positive come of this.”

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson in a statement Thursday said a confidential financial settlement between Nelson, Robinson and Starbucks has been reached and thanked the men for their “willingness to reconcile.”

“I welcome the opportunity to begin a relationship with them to share learnings and experiences,” he said.

The coffee chain on May 29 plans to close more than 8,000 U.S. stores for an afternoon to train nearly 175,000 workers in “racial-bias education.”

Robinson, who said he’s been a Starbucks customer since he was 15, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the agreement with the city of Philadelphia was the right decision. “We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” he said. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”

Shoppe Black’s Entrepreneurs Tony O. Lawson and Shantrelle P. Lewis Commit to Black-Owned Businesses — And Each Other

Entrepreneurs Tony O. Lawson and Shantrelle P. Lewis are the founders of ShoppeBlack.us (photo via ebony.com)

article by Glenn Jeffers via ebony.com

It started with a Facebook post.

Curator and entrepreneur Shantrelle Lewis took to the social-media site to find sharp-dressed brothers for her exhibition, The Dandy Lion Project.” When Tony Lawson, also an entrepreneur, responded to Lewis’ online query, the two quickly bonded over their shared history — they attended Howard University at the same time but never met on-campus — and a strong interest in business.

That connection soon turned into a relationship that blossomed in several ways. In November 2015, the couple launched Shoppe Black, a site that promotes Black-owned businesses and culture around the globe. And last month, Lewis and Lawson were married in a “Nigeria meets New Orleans” themed ceremony that Okayafrica dubbed “The Biggest, Blackest Wedding of All Time.”

EBONY spoke with the newlyweds about the site, working together as newlyweds and how Black businesses can become wealth generators.

***

EBONY: How did Shoppe Black come about? 

Lawson: We both have an interest in creating wealth in the Black community and understand that business ownership is the way, or one of the ways, to create wealth. That being said, when the Mike Brown shooting happened, there were a lot of calls to action demanding a boycott of businesses that don’t respect Black dollars and the support of Black-owned businesses. We sat down and figured out, okay, what’s the best way for us to organize and let people know about the Black businesses that exist. We knew that there was a need for it. We’re always looking to support Black-owned businesses and this is a way to compile all that information in one place and make that information interesting and aesthetically pleasing.

EBONY: What is the company’s mission? 

Lewis: Right now, we are providing content around Black money, thought, love and culture.  In early 2017, we will launch the directory and business services. Our primary mission is to make the process of supporting Black-owned businesses, like our business easy, to make it exciting, to create power, give us a source of power within our community and within society at large. The sheer size of Black buying dollars is overwhelmingly powerful.

Lawson: Additionally, another goal of the company is to reduce the rate of Black business failure. Black businesses fail at a rate higher than all other businessesWe want to be a hub for Black business. The services and exposure we provide will help put them in a position where that rate will decrease. You may not know that, okay, there’s a Black-owned leather bag company, a water company or a toiletry company. Those companies are out there, and it’s our mission to let the people know that they do exist and support them.

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/ebony/shoppe-black-entrepreneur-married#ixzz4UNEYnlhE

1st Ever Detroit Startup Week Helps Black Business Entrepreneurs and Hopefuls

The first annual Detroit Startup Week, powered by Chase, kicked off in May featuring over 100 events with some 2,500 participants attending free activities over the course of five days. Detroit’s inaugural Startup Week is expected to be largest first-year event in the global brand’s six-year history.

Ten learning tracks will be offered to entrepreneurs at all levels: technology, entrepreneurship 101, mobility, music, food-preneurship, art+design, civic innovation, neighborhood collaboration, social entrepreneurship, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

“Our city is unlike any other, with both ingenuity and a welcoming spirit, brilliance and grit, and opportunities abound. Detroit Startup Week is designed to glue together those opportunities, celebrate what’s already working, and lay the groundwork for what’s to come,” notes Kyle Bazzy, lead organizer.

“Entrepreneurs are playing an invaluable role in Detroit’s comeback,” adds Jennifer Piepszak, CEO of Chase Business Banking, whose firm has committed $100 million over five years to Detroit’s economic recovery. “Detroit Startup Week is a great opportunity to recognize small businesses’ importance to the city’s recovery and to ensure they gain access to the necessary resources to support and grow.”

To read more, go to: http://www.blackenterprise.com/small-business/first-ever-detroit-startup-week-helps-black-business-hopefuls/

BUSINESS: Ernst and Young LLP Hosts Free Black History Month Executive Roundtable in Los Angeles

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article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

In celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth, Ernst and Young LLP will be hosting a Black History Month Executive Roundtable event in Los Angeles tonight that focuses on stories of cultivating and leveraging diverse teams and achievements of successful black professionals.

Ernst and Young partner Gracelyn Hodge will be moderating the panel. Panelists will be Dr. Robert Cherry, Chief Medical and Quality Officer at UCLA Health, Cookie Johnson, President of CJ by Cookie Johnson, Beverly Kuykendall, President of American Medical Depot and Guy Primus, CEO and Co-Founder of The Virtual Reality Company.

WHEN:
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. |  Reception/Networking
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. |  Program/Panel Discussion/Q&A

WHERE:
The L.A. Hotel Downtown, 333 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071

RSVP:
http://bit.ly/1S6PKDi 

African Billionaire Tony Elumelu Launches $100 Million Dollar Program for African-American Entrepreneurs

African billionaire Tony Elemelu and President Barack Obama (photo via financialjuneteenth.com)

Tony Elumelu, an attributed philanthropist and African billionaire, is a stellar businessman with specialized training in economics, seeking to change the economic standing of those in the African-American community.  Elumelu chairs Heirs Holdings and Transcorp, and is also the founder of the esteemed Tony Elumelu Foundation.

In 2014, Elumelu, along with other prominent American and African business moguls, partnered to form a summit in Washington DC that consisted of more than 45 African and American business heads, along with 50 African business leaders. The common theme of the platform was to see to the improvement in the economic stance of Africans, as well as African-Americans, and to create advancement opportunities for all who interacted.

Elumelu’s statements to the media explained that the summit presented a promising opportunity for individuals to make positive returns on contributions made to valuable incentives around the Atlantic. He expressed that this was not mere chatter, but an outlet to expose those involved to greater opportunities in business growth.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Elumelu said, “An opportunity to move beyond the usual conversations on aid and instead explore new opportunities to collaborate and co-invest in initiatives that generate value on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Elumelu also spoke with Black Enterprise on his vision for a real partnership between the United States and Africa, not just a relationship of providing aid, but trade as equal partners, engaging investors and the need for consistent electricity.

“We should welcome the fact that the journey has finally begun. I like the nature of the imagined engagement between Africa and America. President Obama’s visit to Africa last year was the starting point,” Elumelu says. “The fact that they have realized the need to engage with Africa at the scale and magnitude that they are going about it now is welcome.”

His foundation is also playing its part in reaching out to minority and women-owned businesses. “The Tony Elumelu Foundation will launch an entrepreneurship program with 100 million dollars that will touch 10,000 entrepreneurs across Africa and the United States,” he says. “We will train and mentor them and create platforms for them to have commercial business engagements.”

The vision set forth by Tony Elumelu is one that he believes merges more than simple aid; it creates a solid partnership between Africa and the U.S. It’s the beginning of a business journey that takes a different, but more rewarding, path for all of those invested. The trip to Africa taken by President Obama was another key indicator that steps are being taken in the right directions to strengthen business ventures between Africa and America.

This newly-formed relationship between Africa and the U.S is one that can create a positive mode of growth for African American entrepreneurs who stay the course and take the route the foundation has designed. The overwhelming occurrences of negativity surrounding African Americans in the press makes it necessary for many to find outlets that help them reach their full business potential. The summit created the opportunity and the foundation’s program provides the means to capitalize on the opportunity.

article by Angela Wills via financialjuneteeth.com

Former Inmate Frederick Hutson Creates Tech Company Pigeonly To Help Prisoners Stay In Touch With Families

PIGEONLY FREDERICK
Frederick Hutson founded the company Pigeonly to help tailor technological products and services for underserved communities, such as the incarcerated and their families. | Pigeon.ly

Frederick Hutson was just 24 and living in St. Petersburg, Florida, when he was convicted on a drug trafficking charge. The Air Force veteran spent four years behind bars, serving out his sentence in eight different correctional facilities.

Hutson found prison life was isolating, no surprise at a time when one 15-minute interstate phone call could cost an inmate as much as $17. Isolation is an ongoing hurdle for prisoners and their families, as research has repeatedly shown that keeping inmates connected with loved ones and support structures on the outside helps reduce recidivism rates.

“[Incarcerated] people who maintain supportive relationships with family members have better outcomes — such as stable housing and employment — when they return to the community,” reads one study by the nonprofit Vera Institute. “Many corrections practitioners and policy makers intuitively understand the positive role families can play in the reentry process, but they often do not know how to help people in prison draw on these social supports.”

Such research, coupled with his own experience, gave Hutson a new idea. Today, that idea has transformed into Pigeonly, a $3 million tech company specifically tailoring products for underserved communities, particularly the incarcerated and their families.

Hutson launched Pigeonly in 2013 after receiving coaching and input from the NewME Accelerator in San Francisco, which helps support underrepresented entrepreneurs. Pigeonly’s products to date include Fotopigeon, a prison-friendly photo-mailing platform, and Telepigeon, a service that drastically reduces the often cost-prohibitive price of phone calls to and from correctional facilities.

“Most people don’t have life sentences, so the real question we have to ask ourselves is, what type of person do we want to release?” Hudson, now 31, told The Huffington Post. “Someone who’s isolated from everyone they know and lost touch with everyone who could support them who, when they’re back on the street, are way more likely to go back to the previous activity they were doing before prison? No.”

pigeonly office
Inside Pigeonly’s office in Las Vegas. The company recently expanded into a larger space to accommodate its growth. (Pigeon.ly)

The Las Vegas-based company says it has already had a great deal of success with its flagship products in a relatively short period of time.

Fotopigeon prints photos uploaded by a user and mails them to a prison on the user’s behalf, carefully abiding by the strident and sometimes confusing regulations that govern mail sent to prisons. The service already has a base of 80,000 customers who have uploaded over a million photos, at 50 cents apiece with free shipping, since the service began.

Hutson told HuffPost the company is currently shipping a quarter of a million photos a month.

“It’s something that has very high value when you’re isolated from everything you know,” Hutson said. “Think about how important images are in daily life on the outside. It’s crazy to think it’d be any different for the 2.3 million people in prison or the 20 million people who want to communicate with them.”

Continue reading “Former Inmate Frederick Hutson Creates Tech Company Pigeonly To Help Prisoners Stay In Touch With Families”

Five Savvy Books by Successful African-American Entrepreneurs

Successful entrepreneurs understand that the way to success is to be a lifelong learner. From staying abreast on latest trends to reading up on tried-and-true strategy, leaders win by seeking knowledge.  Here are five books that will help any entrepreneur do just that:

The Man From Essence by Edward Lewis

Written by Edward Lewis, co-founder of Essence magazine, this book tells the story of how he started his company with three partners, eventually reaching and impacting millions of people with a landmark publication for women of color. He became the last man standing by the time it was sold to Time, Inc. Lewis details the motivation behind his drive to succeed, her personal triumphs and challenges and insights on management, startup strategy and perseverance through the ups and downs of the publishing world.

How to Succeed in Business Without Being White: Straight Talk on Making it in America by Earl G. Graves

In a society where white men dominate the top seats at major corporations, this book serves as motivation and mentorship for African-American innovators. Being one of the most prolific executives in business, Graves tells us his own story of how he  became a multimillionaire, the director of several of America’s Fortune 500 corporations, a philanthropist and entrepreneur, how he built the legacy of Black Enterprise. The business icon touts: “Economic power is the key to success in a capitalistic society.”

Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?: How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Business Empire By Reginald F. Lewis

Lewis’ first successful venture was his $22.5 million-leveraged buyout of McCall Pattern Co., where he sold it for $65 million in 1987, and made an astounding 90 to 1 return on his original investment. He re-branded the corporation as TLC Beatrice International Inc. As the CEO and chairman, Lewis increased the company’s worth in rapid time,an with revenues of $1.5 billion, TLC Beatrice made it to the Fortune 500. It was also the first company on the Black Enterprise List of Top 100 African-American owned businesses. This book details how all of this happened and will inspire many bosses for generations to come.

Success Never Smelled So Sweet: How I Followed My Nose and Found My Passion by Lisa Price

Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, tells the story of her life, starting from the beginning with her childhood days in Brooklyn, N.Y., to the moment her business was created and how it bloomed. The innovator provides motivating and enticing stories and explains how she went from bankruptcy to grossing over $2 million yearly while working from home. Price believes that life will guide each and every one of us until we realize our own inner truth, regardless of the challenges we faced to reach to our destination. She also shares with us advice her mother gave her and recipes for her best-selling products.

Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of A Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins and Elizabeth Gardner Hines

A.G. Gaston was the grandson of slaves and was born penniless. At his death, he was worth more than $130 million and helmed several businesses. This is the story of his life through the eyes of his niece and grandniece. Gaston was determined to make a difference for African Americans during the time of slavery. When he passed away in 1996, he was one of the richest men in America. Black Titan is the story of a man who changed the future for all black businesspeople in our country.

article by Cristie Leondis via blackenterprise.com

BUSINESS: 20 Black Angels Worth Knowing For Minority Startups

FUBU Founder and "Shark Tank" Investor Daymond John
FUBU Founder and “Shark Tank” Investor Daymond John

Daymond John helped revolutionize urban fashion in the 1990s as founder, president, and CEO of FUBU (“For Us, By Us”). He guided the iconic brand into a multimillion-dollar business, placing it at the same table with such designer sportswear labels as Donna Karan New York and Tommy Hilfiger.

These days, John is known for being a “shark” on the hit reality series “Shark Tank”. Every Friday night, some seven million viewers tune in to the ABC show that features a panel of investors, or “sharks,” that consider offers from aspiring entrepreneurs seeking capital. John, a member of the cast since the show’s premiere in 2009, along with four other prominent chief executives listens to business pitches (a contestant’s one-hour pitch is edited down to a 10-minute segment) from everyday people hoping to take their company or product to new heights. Using their own money, the sharks have invested more than $20 million, having completed more than 30 deals with an average valuation of $250,000. John is the show’s second leading investor.

Studies show that African American-owned firms are less likely to receive angel investment. In the first half of 2013, only 8.5% of startups pitching to angels were minority-owned; 16% were women-led, according to a report by the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire. Only 15% of those minority-owned businesses successfully got funded, while 24% of the female entrepreneurs received angel investments. Moreover, ethnic minorities account for less than 5% of the angel population.

Continue reading “BUSINESS: 20 Black Angels Worth Knowing For Minority Startups”

Miles Johnson, 16, Wins 1st Place at Youth Entrepreneur Camp with Financial Tracker App for Teens

As a boy, 16-year-old Miles Johnson‘s father taught him about the power of compound interest: If he had money and put it away, it would grow so that one day he’d be able to buy something he really wanted.  Steadily contributing to his savings account, he got a nice pair of headphones, a laptop for school and an idea — a mobile app that could help others from low-income backgrounds reach retirement and financial freedom.

His plan for the “Next Generation” mobile app took first place and won $1,000 at a business plan competition recently, part of the free Los Angeles BizCamp Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. The summer camp was created by the nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship in partnership with the Los Angeles Urban League.

Johnson was one of 21 underserved high school students from across Los Angeles who met with teachers and business mentors every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the two-week camp to find a problem in their communities and address it with a business solution.

Miles proposed a host of simple financial tools that help people, at the touch of a screen, check their budget daily, monitor their credit and access resources about getting out of debt.

“I thought this could help them and prevent them from being broke at 65 … or see how a car or house payment might fit in their budget,” said Miles, who now has a shot at competing on the national level for $25,000 with a free trip to Silicon Valley.

Adrian Griffin, his mother, described him as “completely self-motivated.”

“I can’t say whether I’m proud or embarrassed that I didn’t help at all,” said Griffin, who couldn’t attend the event because she was working. “I had a feeling that he was going to win, so that day I put my phone in my pocket, something I don’t usually do. I wanted to make sure he could get hold of me no matter what.”

At the event, the high schoolers studied concepts in finance, marketing and recognizing business opportunities. They put their knowledge into action by drafting plans for a music school for children with autism, a multicultural magazine to boost young women’s self-confidence, a healthy food truck for high school and college campuses, and more.

The competition gave students such as 16-year-old Mario Seki the chance to work on their own ideal careers. Moonlighting as a magician since the age of 6, Mario, now a student at the School of Arts and Enterprise in Pomona, said he hopes to expand his business, which already includes performing at birthday parties, and social and community events.

“Magic is a really nice form of medicine in a way. My mission is to make someone’s day better,” said Mario, who placed second at the BizCamp competition and won $750.

“I thought this is for him because he can really learn about running a business,” said Judy Seki of her son, the youngest of nine children. “Each one has a different interest and you just support them in any way you can. Part of that was finding this.”

Sisters Passion Lord, 15, and Dajah Blades, 14, saw their confidence skyrocket over the course of the camp as they developed presentation skills.  On competition day they fearlessly shared slices of lemon pie and their vision for “P and D’s Sweet Treats” to promote peace through pastries from around the world. They placed third and won $300.

“Why not do something that brings everyone together?” Dajah said.  “The secret ingredient is love,” Passion added.

“To see them light up and fill the room was phenomenal,” said Jessie Mosqueda, a community development officer for Citi, which sponsored the camp through its foundation’s commitment to spend $50 million over three years on programs for youths in low-income communities.

Romann Anderson, who will be a sophomore at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, won the BizCamp fast-pitch competition and $75. He impressed judges with his pitch for “Prism Gaming,” a compact video game console.  “I was very proud that he was able to tap into the business aspect as well as the fun,” said Stacy Beverly, Romann’s mom.

It’s a lesson Romann said he hopes to take with him going forward.  “If I go into business in something I’m passionate about, I won’t back down,” Romann said.

A 2013 NFTE research project found that alumni from their programs beat the national employment average of 69% — 88% of their participants are in the workforce. They’re also more likely to be self-employed: 22% of NFTE alumni have their own businesses, compared to the national average of 11%.

“It teaches them how to fish and build futures,” said Estelle Reyes, NFTE executive director.

With participants being tasked to deliver a 30-second elevator pitch and an eight-minute presentation by the program’s conclusion, BizCamp covered a curriculum that typically takes a full academic year, according to teacher Timothy Dura.

“It’s like taking someone, opening up their mouth, shoving in a fire hose and turning it on to see how much they absorb,” said Dura, who teaches at the Hawthorne Math and Science Academy. “They’ve done really, really well. I’m very proud of them.”

To learn more about BizCamp, visit http://www.tinyurl.com/2014BizCampApplication.

article by Sara Hayden via latimes.com