Inclusion at the Forefront: Letter from the Editor

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Anthony Anderson on the cover of the Black EOE Journal

By Samar Khoury

We are celebrating milestones every day, and this issue of Black EOE Journal is full of them. Inclusion surrounds this issue, as it is at the forefront more than ever.

For example, our Best of the Best lists recognize the top HBCUs and Colleges & Universities for their commitment to inclusion. This issue is also filled with firsts: Senator Kamala Harris, the first black woman of Indian descent to formally accept a vice president nomination; Jeanette Epps, the first black woman astronaut to join the international space station crew; Michael V. Drake, the University of California’s first black president; and much, much more. These are only scratching the surface. Even better news: A new law has been passed requiring large corporations to diversify their boards.

Our cover story- actor, activist, and comedian Anthony Anderson- sees value in inclusion and continuously pushes for justice. A prominent figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, Anderson makes it his mission to advocate for a more inclusive future. “I have to build my own table and seat. We don’t have to sit at other peoplpe’s tables. We invite people to our table,” Anthony says.

Read more about his efforts and inspiring story on page 48.

We’ve also rounded up a list of influential figures who aim to make a difference in the world. From Tyler Perry to Yara Shahidi, these people are inspirations.

Read about these figures on page 30.

You, too, can make a difference, and that is by voting during the upcoming presidential election. Have your voice heard, and advocate for change. Your vote can be what the world needs. So, get out there and vote! Every vote counts.

Last but not least, job opportunities are still present among the pandemic and we’ve presented them for you. Every issue of Black EOE Journal strives to give the best job opportunities and tips while navigating these unprecedented times.

While times are changing, one thing isn’t, and that is the importance of inclusion. So, follow in Anthony Anderson, Senator Harris, Jeanette Epps, and many more influential figures’ footsteps, and make your own change.

TRAVIS SCOTT DONATES $1 MILLION TO BLACK COLLEGE STUDENTS … To Ensure They Graduate

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Travis Scott Forbes Fortnite Concert

By TMZ

Travis Scott is making sure hundreds of Black college students walk across the commencement stage with their diploma … with a seven-figure donation.

The rapper awarded $1 million in scholarships to 100 students at HBCUs who are on track to graduate in the Class of 2022 … ensuring they cross the finish line and aren’t affected by last-minute financial hurdles.

The soon-to-be grads are each getting a $10,000 scholarship from Travis’ previously-established Waymon Webster Scholarship Fund … and the recipients finished their final semester with at least a 3.5 GPA.

Among the scholars … Florida A&M University pharmacy major Nisha Encarnacion, who is from the U.S. Virgin Islands and paid her own way through college while supporting her mother and daughter, Fisk University computer science major Chisom Okwor, whose goal is to help transform developing countries in Africa, and North Carolina Central University broadcast journalism major Jordan Massey, who took on a ton of debt to get his communications degree.

Travis’ sister, Jordan Webster, manages the scholarship fund … and she recently graduated as well, with a degree from Howard University.

Travis’ donations went to seniors at 38 HBCUs … including Alabama A&M University, Central State University, Jackson State University, Morehouse College, Texas Southern University, Grambling State University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Prairie View A&M University.

The $1 million worth of scholarships is part of Travis’ Project HEAL, which as we first reported, was announced back in March and included $5 million in earmarks.

Remember … Project HEAL was one of Travis’ first public philanthropic since the tragic Astroworld concert last November, which saw 10 people die as a result of injuries sustained during Travis’ set.

Click here to read the full article on TMZ.

Texas News Station Hires All-Women, Black Anchors

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A local news station in Texas, has hired Black anchors who are all women

By B.E.T

Starting back on May 2, Jasmin Caldwell, Taheshah Moise and meteorologist Ashley Carter began hosting Texas Today. The weekday morning news show airs on KCEN, which is an NBC affiliate serving Temple, Waco, Killeen, and the surrounding areas.

Caldwell, who joined the station in 2017, told KCEN, “Growing up, I always saw all-white news anchors. I didn’t think that there would ever be Black newscasts. I knew there was always room for one, but I didn’t think that I would see three African Americans — male or female — permanently, all at one time. No way.”

Carter revealed how she heard the news that KCEN would hire Black women anchors, “Maybe about three weeks to a month after I decided to come here I got an email saying Jasmin is going to be joining Texas Today, which is going make the show you’re a part of all women.”

She continued, “It was pretty cool. I was like wow. It was just the icing on the cake. Not only be able to advance my career to where I wanted, but to be able to do it next to these two.”

Moise added, “I just think back to when I was a young girl and I used to watch the news with my parents and I never saw anyone who looked like me. If I did, they were outside reporting in the cold.”

Texas Today airs Monday through Friday from 4:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

Click here to read the full article on B.E.T.

Dr. Dre helps break ground on new Compton High School performing arts center

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Dr. Dre

By ABC 7

A performing arts center at Compton High School that’s being built with the help of music mogul Dr. Dre is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Compton native – who donated $10 million to the project – joined city and school leaders for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the first step in getting the center up and running.

The facility will include a 1,200-seat theater and will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future.

“When I was approached about funding a performing arts center that would provide an arts and technological education to students and be accessible for the community at large, I was all in,” said Dr. Dre. “I wanted to give the young people of Compton something I never had.”

Dr. Dre – born Andre Young – grew up in Compton and first rose to fame as a member of NWA, whose debut album was titled “Straight Outta Compton.”

He later found success as a solo artist, producer and businessman.

The performing arts center will be the first new high school facility to be built in almost a decade in the greater Los Angeles area.

Compton High School is more than 100 years old.

“This is very historical for Compton,” said Compton Unified School District Board President Micah Ali.

Click here to read the full article on ABC 7.

Black female-owned supplements brand builds on partnership with The Vitamin Shoppe

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Samia Gore, CEO and Founder of Body Complete Rx

By Cision PR Newswire

Body Complete Rx (BCRX), the first Black female-owned supplement company to break significant ground in the male-dominated, nutritional supplement industry, is proud to announce it will be launching its exclusive plant-based, vegan weight management supplements at The Vitamin Shoppe on August 1st. BCRX will introduce their TRIM line in over 700 retail locations nationwide, making them the first Black female-owned brand to launch in the retailer’s weight management category.

Founded by Samia Gore in 2017, BCRX is a self-funded wellness brand which has grossed over $10 million in sales in just under 4 years. Their natural, vegan supplements, which enjoy a celebrity following, provide a range of benefits based on customers’ specific needs, including weight management and improving energy, skin health, and nutrition. Products include vegan protein powders, supplements, a Vitamin C serum, collagen-boosting powder, women and men’s multivitamins, and superfood bars.

BCRX’s launch at The Vitamin Shoppe’s brick-and-mortar retail stores follows the brand’s recent rebranding and repackaging campaign, which included the launch of five new product lines of plant-based, vegan supplements, including TRIM, THRIVE, GLOW, NOURISH and PERFORM.

BCRX’s TRIM line, designed to empower customers to “power up and slim down,” features the brand’s best-selling weight management supplements. The plant-based, clinically proven supplements will help make customers’ weight loss goals achievable by curbing their cravings, revving up their metabolism, and supercharging their energy.

The TRIM line includes:

  • Boost Metabolism Drops ($50) – Adaptogenic metabolism boosting drops made with African mango and natural herbs like rhodiola, maca and astragalus.
  • Control Appetite Suppressant Capsules ($40) – All-natural appetite suppressant capsules.
  • Renew Energy Drops ($40) – Energy drops made with Riboflavin, Niacin and Vitamin B12.

BCRX’s partnership with The Vitamin Shoppe reflects the ever-growing position of the company within the wellness market.

“We are so excited to be launching at one of the top retailers of nutritional supplements in the country because it’s a true testament to the efficacy of our brand and products,” explains Samia Gore, founder and CEO of Body Complete Rx. “As the first and only Black female-owned brand in The Vitamin Shoppe’s weight management category, I am excited to make these wellness products more accessible to customers across the country and support their journey towards wellbeing.”

Click here to read the full article on Cision PR Newswire.

Kevin Hart Signs $100 Million Investment Agreement To Create HARTBEAT, Which Will Be Led By An All Black Leadership Team

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HARTBEAT Team L to R: CCO Bryan Smiley, Chairman Kevin Hart, CEO Thai Randolph, and CDO Jeff Clanagan

By Corein Carter, Forbes

Kevin Hart, trailblazing entrepreneur, executive, and entertainer, has now combined Laugh Out Loud and HartBeat Productions to create one of the leading sources of comedic storytelling and experiences with HARTBEAT, after more than a decade of leveraging his individual success to build the two high-growth companies.

With the mission of keeping the world laughing together, the multi-platform company creates entertainment at the intersection of comedy and culture. Hartbeat Productions’ best-in-class television and film production capabilities are combined with Laugh Out Loud’s extensive distribution network, as well as marketing, sales, experiential, branded content, digital, and social capabilities.

HARTBEAT was established with a $100 million investment from Abry Partners, a private equity firm that took a minority stake in the new company. Evolution Media Capital and a team from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP led by Sophia Yen, a partner in the Entertainment Group, advised HARTBEAT on the deal.

The creation of HARTBEAT and the capital raised with Abry Partners mark the beginning of a new era in comedy. Hart is proud of what has been delivered. As part of the agreement, Nicolas Massard, a partner at Abry Partners, will join the HARTBEAT board as part of the agreement. Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, will remain a shareholder in Laugh Out Loud after signing a multi-year, first look deal and taking an equity stake in the network in 2020.

Hart discusses his commitment to building the most innovative and inclusive comedy storytelling company. “In an industry where people love to say no and shut doors, I’ve been confident in forging our own path and using our success to open doors for others. We’re taking the new entertainment blueprint we’ve built to the next level with this merger and funding, paving the way for a new generation of comedic talent. I can’t wait to bring more comedians, experiences, and heartfelt stories to the world.”

HARTBEAT intends to use the funds to expand its team, accelerate growth for existing brands and franchises, and develop a new IP that will appeal to a global audience. This will be accomplished by collaborating with today’s most influential stars and rising comedic talent, both in front of and behind the camera, using HARTBEAT’s creative engine, relationships, and resources.

The existing leadership from Hartbeat Productions and Laugh Out Loud will continue to oversee day-to-day operations. Thai Randolph, who previously served as President & COO of Laugh Out Loud and COO of Hartbeat Productions, has been appointed CEO of the new entity. Hart will serve as Chairman in the interim. Bryan Smiley of Hartbeat Productions will become President & Chief Content Officer, and Jeff Clanagan of LOL will become President & Chief Distribution Officer. Leland Wigington, co-founder of HartBeat Productions, will lead a new production banner under HARTBEAT.

Randolph spoke with For(bes) The Culture about the emergence of HARTBEAT.

“Commercially, it’s a milestone moment. In terms of the company’s capitalization and valuation, as well as the possibility of expanding the team to create more content. We are breathing rare air when it comes to scaling companies of this size, especially when it comes to having a company that is minority owned and run by people of color.” Randolph continues, “We don’t consider diversity to be an initiative because, the composition is more than half women and half people of color. We are diverse by design because it’s just good business. With the mission of keeping the world laughing together, we have a team that looks like the world around us, so we can program relevantly to those audiences.”

The LOL! Network was named one of the top 10 media publishers in an April 2021 Conviva report that ranked the size of social media audiences across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. It came in ahead of major players like Hulu. The merger and capital raise will allow HARTBEAT to expand and invest in the future of comedic entertainment, producing more in-demand content and experiences where comedy meets culture.

HARTBEAT is a full-service entertainment company that develops, markets, and distributes the most culturally relevant IP and experiences in comedy and beyond. The company is divided into three divisions:

● HARTBEAT Studios led by Bryan Smiley finances, develops, and produces comedy and culture-related film, television, and content.

● HARTBEAT Media, under the leadership of Jeff Clanagan, connects with consumers all over the world through events, gaming, music publishing, Web3 initiatives, and a vast distribution network.

● PULSE, the company’s branded entertainment studio, works with companies like P&G, Lyft, Sam’s Club, Chase, and Verizon to provide creative and cultural consulting.

Operating under HARTBEAT Media, the LOL! Network will continue to be the company’s flagship consumer brand, reaching audiences across its O&O social media, audio (SiriusXM) and OTT partners (Peacock, Roku, Tubi, PlutoTV, Vizio, Redbox, Xumo, and more).

With projects featuring Tiffany Haddish, Hasan Minhaj, Amanda Seales, Deon Cole, and Affion Crockett, HARTBEAT creates hit vehicles for A-list comedians and brings the next generation of comedic voices into the mainstream.

HARTBEAT is currently working on more than 60 projects with 15+ entertainment partners, all of which are in various stages of development. The company also has several multi-year strategic partnerships, including the unscripted first look deal with NBCU’s Peacock, a film deal with Netflix, a partnership with SiriusXM, and a deal with Audible via the joint venture SBH Productions with Charlamagne Tha God.

Among the upcoming projects include: Me Time (Netflix) with Mark Wahlberg and Regina Hall, “Storytown” (HBO Max), the F. Gary Gray action heist Lift (Netflix), #1 on the Call Sheet documentary (Apple TV+), “Die Hart” season 2 (Roku), “So Dumb It’s Criminal” with Snoop Dogg (Peacock), and a new season of the Hart-led sports talk show “Cold as Balls” (LOL Network).

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Nike releases ‘Mambacita Sweet 16’ shoe to honor Gianna Bryant on her birthday

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Nike has released a special edition pair of sneakers to honor Gianna Bryant's legacy.

By Zoe Sottile, CNN

Nike has released a special pair of “Mambacita Sweet 16” shoes to honor Gianna “Gigi” Bryant on what would have been her 16th birthday.

“I’m so happy with the way these Mambacita shoes came out in honor of my daughter, Gigi,” wrote Vanessa Bryant on Instagram. The shoes feature a black snakeskin pattern to represent “Gigi’s Mambacita Mentality.”
“The ‘Mambacita Sweet 16’ is inspired by her resilient spirit and the love she had, not only for the game, but for her family, friends and community,” said Bryant in a note posted to her Instagram. “Part of her legacy is about building a better future for all girls and women in sport, one step at a time.”

Gianna and her father, basketball legend Kobe Bryant, were killed in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Like her father, Gianna was also a talented basketball player and aspired to play in the WNBA. Earlier this year, Bryant announced that she had reached a deal with Nike to create apparel to honor the late basketball player, nicknamed the “Black Mamba.”

“The Kobe 6 Protro ‘Mambacita Sweet 16’ honors the legacy that Kobe and Gianna ‘Gigi’ Bryant built,” wrote Nike in a statement announcing the release. “One that propelled all generations to continue their quest to be better, for themselves and for the game that unites us all.”
Proceeds from the shoes will go towards the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring Kobe’s and Gianna’s legacies by supporting underserved athletes, according to Nike.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Pharrell Williams wants to fund minority business leaders who want to uplift their communities

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Felecia Hatcher, CEO of Black Ambition, and Pharrell Williams, Founder, Black Ambition.

By Talib Visram, Fast Company

In a lighthearted moment at Fast Company‘s Most Innovative Companies Summit, the CEO of Black Ambition, Felecia Hatcher, suggested that the concepts behind today’s biggest crowdfunding businesses, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, were invented years ago by Black communities.

“All you had to do was look at the Black church,” she said. “We pass a plate every Sunday from one pew to the next. That’s how we funded scholarships. That’s how we fixed the roof.”

But there was a more poignant message to her comment, too. “We’ve had to be innovative out of necessity,” she said, given the lack of historical financial support for communities of color.

Innovation among minority communities has existed but hasn’t received due credit, capital, or support. Filling that gap is the aim of Black Ambition, a nonprofit organization and pitch competition founded by musician and record producer Pharrell Williams, which distributes startup capital and mentorship to Black and Latino entrepreneurs. Williams and Hatcher spoke to multimedia editor KC Ifeanyi about the competition returning for its second year, what they learned from its debut, and why they’re not looking for entrepreneurs who only want to line their own pockets.

The concept behind what they’re doing is the “uninterrupted founder.” That is: “What would your life look like if nothing stood in the way of you achieving success?” Hatcher explained. Throughout history, minorities in America have been faced with systemic racism that’s locked out opportunities for capital. Of the $148 billion that venture capitalists provided in funding in 2020, only about 3% went to Black entrepreneurs. “I always say [that] most Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, we get a round of applause from everyone, [but] we don’t always get the round of funding,” Hatcher said.

Williams added that the lack of networking power has also blocked success. “I know people [who] have had much better ideas [than me], and because they just didn’t have the ecosystem to go knock on the door, or pick up a phone, or send an email and get the codes, they lost out on genius ideas.”

Black Ambition hopes to provide both the capital and the networking. It’s awarding prizes of up to $1 million to founders. Last year, the organization gave its top prize, $1 million, to Livegistics, a Detroit-based software company whose operating system provides real-time digital records to stakeholders in the construction industry. It invested in 34 companies, and trained and supported 300 with mentorship by partners including Adidas, Chanel, and the Visa Foundation.

In a separate category, it’s also awarding up to $100,000 to founders who currently attend historically Black colleges and universities. “HBCUs have always been the fertile ground for growth in the Black communities,” Williams said. “They’re like little baby cities of potential.”

Click here to read the full article on Fast Company.

Strengthening Black businesses is good for CT, America

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black businesses: female ceo leading a conversation at a conference table

By Anthony Price, Hartford Business

Capitalism works best when businesses innovate and create jobs.

This was not the case when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020. While all small businesses (companies with fewer than 500 employees) were affected, it flattened Black businesses like a tornado, impacting them far more than other companies.

From a public policy perspective, two questions come to mind: Why were Black businesses impacted more than other businesses? What can be done to strengthen Black businesses?

The answers are essential because Black businesses play a vital role in their communities.

When the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee released the report “The State of Black-Owned Businesses in America” in February 2022, Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez stated, “I’m hopeful that this report will provide a sober look at the reality facing Black business owners and help provide a path forward in terms of recovery.”

According to the report, “In 2020, Black business ownership rates dropped 41% between February and April 2020, the largest [decline] of any racial group.”

While “Black Americans owned 124,551 employer businesses, they represented just 2.2% of all employer businesses (the 5.7 million employer businesses with at least one employee),” the report found.

The challenge

The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., released a report in December 2020 entitled: “To Expand the Economy, Invest in Black Businesses.”

A key finding is that “The underrepresentation of Black businesses is costing the U.S. economy millions of jobs and billions of dollars in unrealized revenues.”

Black people comprise 14.2% of the U.S. population. At a time when America is becoming more “racially and ethnically diverse,” Black-owned employer firms are not keeping up with the pace of the country’s population growth.

Historically, Black businesses have faced challenges and gaps in three areas: Access to capital, mentorship (access to a mentor), and access to business opportunities. Compounding these issues, Black businesses face “institutional discrimination and social inequalities.”

Most Americans build wealth through homeownership. Black homeownership lags behind that of whites. Furthermore, “The median Black household’s wealth ($9,000) is nearly one-fifteenth that of non-Black households ($134,520),” the Brookings Institution report said.

The report states that Black homes are “devalued by an estimated sum of $156 billion — the equivalent of more than 4 million firms, based on the average amount Black people use to start their businesses.”

Available resources

Capital is necessary. Connecticut is helping.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) provides financial support to HEDCO, a nonprofit lender based in Hartford that lends at reasonable interest rates to small businesses throughout the state, including many Black businesses.

Technical assistance is needed to help build up businesses. The Black Business Alliance (BBA) is a statewide organization based in Milford, supported by DECD funding. The BBA provides access to capital, technical assistance, space to showcase retailers, and networking opportunities.

Ann-Marie Knight, the executive director, says, “We’ve become a catalyst for change. We can be an organization that speaks on behalf of Black businesses.”

Led by volunteers, ShopBlackCT.com is a free, online Black-owned business guide. Founder Sarah Thompson and her colleague Yvette Young work at The Village for Families in Hartford. ShopBlackCT.com has over 1,700 businesses listed on its website.

Young says, “We offer Black businesses visibility and marketing support.”

Click here to read the full article on Hartford Business.

Major retailers boost Black female entrepreneurship as employment gap lingers

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Ulta Beauty has doubled the number of Black-owned brands that it carries.

By Maia Vines, CNBC

Major beauty retailers are boosting small, minority-owned businesses as Black female entrepreneurship helps bridge an employment gap.

As of last year, 17% of Black women in the U.S. were in the process of starting or running new businesses, according to the Harvard Business Review. That outpaces the 15% of white men and the 10% of white women who reported the same.

Yet, only 3% of Black women reported running mature businesses.

And the traditional workforce unemployment rate remains high among Black women, at 5.5% in March, compared with overall U.S. unemployment of 3.6%, according to the Labor Department. The unemployment rate among Hispanic women during the same period was 4.2%. For white women it was 2.8%.

In an effort to assist small businesses and advance Black entrepreneurship opportunities, major retailers such as Ulta, Sephora and Target have created start-up incubators and diversity programs, providing mentorship, financial support and new business opportunities.

This month, Ulta Beauty partnered with incubator Rare Beauty Brands and Black Girl Ventures, a foundation that funds and scales Black- and Brown-founded businesses, on the group’s second pitch competition for minority-owned beauty start-ups. The competition is a live, crowdfunded event where founders create a three-minute pitch in hopes of elevating their businesses.

The first-place winner will receive accounting consultations, $10,000 and a spot on Ulta’s product shelves for at least six months. Winners are picked based on audience votes. Voting between the seven finalists closed on April 14. The winner will be announced next week.

The competition also promises the chance at key mentoring. Black Girl Ventures offers coaching to applicants prior to the pitch, and Rare Beauty Brands works with business owners after their win.

“We already know that in the beauty industry, Black women consume more than their fair share of beauty products and yet, funding for Black female entrepreneurs is dramatically underdeveloped relative to where it should be,” said Rare Beauty Brands CEO Chris Hobson. “This is less about adding brand value to us and really more about righting a wrong and a way to say ‘Thank you’ to a big chunk of our consumers and try and be part of the solution here.”

Kim Roxie, founder and CEO of Lamik Beauty, the first Black-owned clean beauty brand to be featured at Ulta, won last year’s pitch competition from Rare Beauty Brands and Black Girl Ventures. She said the partnership with Rare Beauty Brands was transformative for her business.

“It was game-changing for me as a founder, and it was game-changing for my company,” Roxie told CNBC. “They allowed me to utilize their team in a way that I would have had to try to hire all those different people and it would have been out of my reach.”

“They sort of subbed in and filled in that gap for me.”

Ulta Beauty has pledged to spend $50 million this year on diversity initiatives, including the launch of an accelerated program to support Black founders and putting money toward marketing their brands.

In February, the company said it is roughly halfway toward reaching a goal of 15% minority representation on shelves as part of its broader diversity initiatives.

Scaling brands
Sephora runs similar accelerated programs for entrepreneurs, aimed at improving representation of brands from BIPOC — Black, Indigenous and people of color — founders. The company’s Accelerate program, which launched five years ago, received more than 600 applications from small business owners this year.

“The Accelerate program serves as a springboard for nascent brands to become visible, viable, stable, and financially solvent,” said Rauvan Dulay, vice president of global merchandising, business development and strategy for Sephora. “Business growth in communities of color creates jobs, opportunity, stability and generational wealth — having the potential for decades of positive impact.”

Big-box retailer Target launched Target Takeoff in 2016 with similar objectives but aimed more at mature consumer packaged goods companies. Five years later, the company added Forward Founders to its portfolio, an incubator initiative designed to engage Black entrepreneurs much earlier in their start-up journeys by helping them navigate critical stages, such as ideation, product development and scaling to serve mass retail, according to the company.

The incubator announced its second cohort in January.

“Target has a longstanding, successful track-record of Accelerator programs and we saw an opportunity to do more, and think differently about how we support underrepresented entrepreneurs,” the company said in a statement to CNBC.

Target’s Forward Founders program received about four times the number of applicants it anticipated this year, the company said. It tripled the size of the annual cohort and created an all-new virtual program so all applicants could benefit.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Putting Black Women First Starts With Entrepreneurship

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co black women business owners for the crabby shack wearing teir company t shirts and smiling at the camera

By Fifi Bell-Clanton, Yahoo! News

For nearly a decade, I’ve been the co-owner of a Black-owned seafood restaurant, The Crabby Shack. What initially started as a barbecue sensation and personal passion has transformed into a Brooklyn-based seafood joint where everyone and anyone can enjoy great food made with love. Despite the challenges that Black women entrepreneurs face, we persist and continue to fulfill our entrepreneurial dreams. But now, more than ever, we need an investment in resources, access to professional networks, and the business education needed to survive and thrive. My entrepreneurship journey was completely self-started. I went to local restaurants and researched what it takes to run my own. To fund the restaurant, my business partner and I had to crowdsource from friends and even relied on personal finances to get The Crabby Shack off the ground. It was a tough journey in the beginning but we kept at it. And through a labor of love, we built a seafood haven that speaks to the determination and power of Black women business owners.

The struggles we faced opening and maintaining the business aren’t unique. Research has shown that many Black, women-owned small businesses initially financed their business with their own personal savings. Also, roughly 17% of new businesses are started by a Black woman but only 3% eventually become mature businesses, ultimately leading to Black women owning their own businesses at a rate 24 times lower than white men.

Through business ownership, we can begin to close the racial wealth gap. With less than 1% of Black women owning a business, it’s clear that in order to pave a better future for Black women, we must invest in Black women entrepreneurs, particularly sole proprietors. Sole proprietors make up 96% of Black businesses and over half are women-owned.

Supporting Black entrepreneurship, and Black women solopreneurs, will help our entire economy thrive. Reducing the wage gap for Black women can create 1.2 to 1.7 million U.S. jobs and increase GDP by $300 to 525 billion. The numbers reveal a simple truth: when Black women succeed, we all succeed.

Participating in Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses was the best thing I ever did to help my business thrive and become the successful entrepreneur I am today. The program gave me access to resources and a network that allowed me to take The Crabby Shack to the next level. Programs like Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women: Black in Business are taking a critical step in providing the tailored resources needed for Black women sole proprietors to thrive.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! News.

SERENA WILLIAMS BACKS BLACK WOMEN-OWNED STARTUP PROVIDING CUSTOMIZED WIGS THROUGH AI

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Serena Williams in a brown dress bent down in a seated position

By Days Tech

Serena Williams is a trailblazer in additional methods than one. This time she’s backing a enterprise aimed toward using synthetic intelligence to supply magnificence customers with custom-made wigs.

Parfait is a brand new wig customization platform aimed toward disrupting the business by being the primary to make use of facial recognition and synthetic intelligence to supply consumers with customizable wig merchandise. The firm raised $5 million in funding spearheaded by Upfront Ventures and Serena Ventures, in keeping with experiences.

“Parfait’s mission to leverage Al to solve core issues for both the tech industry and communities of color is something we, at Serena Ventures, have believed in since the beginning,” Serena Williams stated in a press release.

“She went on to say, “It’s been inspiring to witness their incredible achievements so far, and we’re proud to invest in this next phase of Parfait’s growth.”

Founded by former Target and Amazon government Isoken Igbinedion, the primary seed of funding will assist enhance Parfait’s manufacturing and enhance its provide chain to enter new markets throughout the globe. Through the improved facial recognition Parfait makes use of, the tech-based magnificence model goals to make the wig business extra inclusive to fulfill the hair targets of magnificence customers from all backgrounds.

“Training models used in facial recognition technology are largely unbalanced, often relying on training datasets that are similar in makeup, and do not represent the visual composition of faces worldwide. This often results in poor performance for users who do not fit into that dataset, often represented by white faces and male features.”

Williams shared her pleasure for the brand new funding in an Instagram Story put up, as captured by Essentially Sports. With Parfait aligning with Williams’ rules for her VC agency, the brand new firm is on the highway to success with the total help from one of many best athletes and Black feminine traders of all time.

Click here to read the full article on Days Tech.

Brooklyn’s New Black-Owned LGBTQ Club Is a Safehaven

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Owners of lgbtq club, Lambda Vodka, Lambda Lounge and Club Lambda Brooklyn

By Kalyn Womack, The Root

New York got another Black-owned LGBTQ+ bar in late April. Owners and couple Charles Hughes and Richard Solomon opened Club Lambda Brooklyn on April 28th. The lounge is an expansion of their first location, Lambda Lounge, located in Harlem. Hughes and Solomon felt it was obligatory to create a safe haven where all are welcome and also create a safe space for queer people of color.

Years ago, the two attended a club in New York where the DJ said, “Men don’t dance with men here.” That moment catalyzed the creation of Lambda Lounge. From there, they decided to expand Lambda and ultimately plan to open 10 Lambda locations spanning across the east and west coast. Big names who have attended Lambda Lounge include Lil Nas X, Meagan Good and DeRay McKesson.

Charles and Richard Spoke to The Root about the grand opening of their second location and what inspired them to set out on creating Black-owned queer spaces in New York.

Charles: So if we take it all the way back, prior to Club Lambda in Brooklyn, and Lambda lounge in Harlem, we started Lambda Vodka. We saw a need for spirit within the LGBTQ+ community that they were lacking that was created by us and specifically targeting us. The only issue with trying to sell and promote it was we didn’t have a strong enough following to make substantial amounts of money that we wanted to, to kinda have freedom within our life.

So we said, well, “Why not create a bar to sell our spirit directly to ourselves?” That’s where the idea of this came into play. Lambda lounge…it shocked us the way it took off. The first day of opening during COVID outside, we had to stop individuals from coming in. The community definitely came out to support us and we saw that a lot of cities around the country didn’t have Black-owned queer spaces targeting them. So that’s why we decided to move into Brooklyn next. And that’s where we are right now.

We felt we had to give our community a location of quality. We couldn’t speak for any other location that was out there, but there’s enough room for all of us to survive and all of us are surviving. It was like – if we’re gonna do this, we’re not just going to throw paint on the walls and open the doors, but give them a place that’s comfortable to them and for them.

TR: what were your experiences trying to find a safe space to enjoy nightlife in NY?

Richard: I’m a native New Yorker. I came from a time when it was very easy to go out to Christopher Street and find a space for people that look like me – and what I mean by that is people in the urban community, people of color. And all of those spaces are gone, long gone. So what I found very difficult is trying to resurrect those spaces within New York. We got a lot of pushback but we found a very comfortable home in Harlem.

Of course, Harlem, very safe space for people of color, it was very easy to incorporate queer people of color into that circle. We were welcomed with open arms. We thought we would run into a lot of adversity within the community being a queer space, but it was the complete opposite. We were welcomed, they actually assisted us, they had our back and it made it very easy to make that transition from the downtown nightlife to the uptown nightlife.

TR: Why is it so crucial for Black LGBTQ+ members to have spaces like these?

Charles: I think it’s important because now we are accepted in a location and not just tolerated. What we normally have to deal with within New York, and I’m sure in a lot of other cities, is we get one night a week and it’s between certain hours. I also noticed that if going to any of [their] social media, there was no presence of us on there but we would generate a large number of the income for them.

That’s why we feel the need is theirs. Every community owns their own and why not for us? And what we are starting to see now is being young, LGBTQ+ individuals, a lot of other young people are starting to or wanting to move into the nightlight or the restaurant industry or actually owning their own businesses because they’re starting to see examples of that now.

TR: What makes Lambda stand apart from other clubs/bars?

Charles: So people call it the “gay cheers” (laughs). With that being said, a lot of times you don’t go into a location and you see the owner having a drink with you or taking a shot with you. Ricky and I are very prevalent in the location. If you’re in there, there’s a strong chance you’re gonna see us sitting on a couch having a drink with some of the patrons who come in on a regular basis. It’s a place we call home.

TR: What can visitors look forward to at Club Lambda Brooklyn?

Charles: In Harlem, I do know that 100% of our DJs are a part of our community. We do currently offer karaoke night once a month. We also have a “big boy party” which is for our plus size LGBTQ+ men within the community and that’s really big for us. Outside of that, it’s normally a male demographic. In Brooklyn, however, we are trying to change that narrative – we have brought on a trans party where Thursday nights, once a week, is going to be dedicated to the people within the trans community, which I think is pretty awesome.

Sunday, we are trying to work with a lesbian promoter to where she will come in and bring her following. Now we’re, we’re broadening our market segment to not just target males, but pretty much all the letters within the LGBTQ+ community.

TR: Some straight women feel safer attending gay bars. However, sometimes they can take up space created for queer people. Will allies be invited to the new club?

Charles: We have an open door policy. Surprisingly enough, we are starting to get a lot of heterosexual females coming to the bar to kinda enjoy themselves and let their hair down. They come, they get sections and sometimes they’ll even bring their boyfriend in which is kinda shocks us that heterosexual males feel so comfortable within the establishment. We don’t have any restrictions. All friends of the community are welcome.

Click here to read the full article on The Root.

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