This New Agency Is Harnessing Data To Improve Black Women’s Access To Wellness

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Jasmine Marie sits at her lap top smiling at her screen. She is sitting at a desk , aside her computer is a plant and behind her is her bed.

By Anna Haines

“Black women aren’t a monolith, representation isn’t enough,” Jasmine Marie, the CEO and founder of Black Girls Breathing, tells Forbes. “We need the data to craft solutions that meet their unique needs.”

Since the company’s inception in 2018, Black Girls Breathing (bgb) has been going beyond their breathwork circles, strategically collecting feedback from their community. Now their new research and creative agency, House of bgb, will be devoted to the research they’ve collected to fill the gap in data on Black women.

PHOTO : SOLOMAN JONES VIA BLACK GIRLS BREATHING

Black women are disproportionately affected by health issues stemming from chronic stress, yet continue to face disparities in accessing wellness services, like breathwork, which can cost upwards of $300 a session. Even for those with insurance coverage, consistent mental health services remain largely inaccessible, says Marie. COVID-19 has not only heightened the financial barriers facing Black women, but made their need for accessible health care even more urgent.

In response to the pandemic, Black Girls Breathing has offered sliding-scale, virtual breathwork classes, and fundraised to provide over one hundred Black women with free breathwork access for one year. But Marie worries these initiatives are not enough—68% of the bgb community has reported that the bgb breathwork circles are the only consistent mental health practice they have. By strategically collaborating with companies that have Black women’s best interests in mind, House of bgb plans to make Black women’s access to mental health services sustainable.

“We’re keeping it all in the family, building this community and making companies rise to the occasion, not just leeching on our culture but working with us in the right way,” says Marie. She wants to set a new bar for representation, insisting House of bgb will only work with companies who demonstrate a genuine commitment to improving health outcomes for Black women. Whether it’s custom research or developing a brand campaign, clients who want to reach this target audience have an incentive to work with House of bgb’s Black-led team because they’ll be “sowing right back to the community,” says Marie. “Black creatives will have jobs to work on and Black women will be able to continue to access breathwork in a free and accessible manner.”

Given that Black women control a major portion of the African-American community’s spending power—estimated to reach $1.5 trillion this year—house of bgb’s ability to collect real-time data on the needs of Black women gives them a competitive edge. They’ve surveyed the bgb community on a wide range of topics, such as job loss, insurance coverage, occupation, stress levels at home and work, and of course, how breathwork has helped participants specifically. Their first white paper summary, “Impact Of COVID-19 And The State Of Black Women’s Mental Health,” released last month, combines these findings with public research to draw new insights on Black women’s unique needs.

House of bgb is just the latest example of Marie’s creative approach to entrepreneurship. “I love the fact that I don’t have a typical mental health background because that’s where innovation begins,” Marie tells Forbes. The bgb founder was working in global brand development when she discovered the healing benefits of breathwork through a pastor at her church in Harlem. “In 2018, I woke up and it was clear in my spirit that I needed to get trained in it,” she says.

Read the full article at Forbes.

Afro-Latinx Artist Reyna Noriega Is Using Art to Uplift Brown and Black Women

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Afro-Latinx Artist Reyna Noriega

By Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Pop Sugar

In 2017, Afro-Latinx visual artist Reyna Noriega began her career as a full-time creator. Little did she know that in just a few short years, she would have over 100,000 followers on Instagram, would be working with huge brands like Apple and Old Navy, and would design a cover for The New Yorker. Born and raised in Miami to a first-generation Cuban father and a Bahamian mother, Noriega, who is best-known for her bold, vibrant, graphic work, was destined to be an artist.

“My father is also an artist, and I became interested early on in just the magic of it all, being able to bring ideas to life on paper and communicate in a universal language,” Noriega told POPSUGAR in a recent interview. “I was always the ‘sensitive kid’ feeling a lot and thinking a lot, so art and writing were great outlets for me to get all of that under control and to be able to process my emotions.”

Now, Noriega’s art is being seen on a much wider scale and impacting thousands of people who follow her on social media or see her art on city walls and T-shirts. To get there, she had to put in a lot of work, including studying and learning on her own, despite the fact that she took art classes throughout high school and minored in art in college. Using the help of books and YouTube, Noriega honed her skills and eventually left her job as a teacher, with the full support of her parents.

“I was very fortunate that my family believed in me and my ability to make my passion a career and even help me make it happen! To this day, my mom is the person that helps me run my online shop, and they encourage me to strive higher,” Noriega told us.

By 2019, Noriega started doing brand work, after getting comfortable with her style and what she wanted to represent as an artist. It gradually became easier for her to align herself with brands that had the same mission. She is currently working on Amex’s “Always Welcome” design collective launch, which will provide businesses with signage for their storefronts and indicate their stance on inclusivity.

“Honestly, every time I get an email, I am honored and humbled that my name enters rooms I never thought would. From companies whose products I used to save up for at one point, like Apple, to legendary publications like The New Yorker, or having thousands and thousands of people wear a shirt I designed with Old Navy. It really is a dream come true,” she said.

Ultimately, it was Noriega embracing her culture and her commitment to advocating for Black and brown people through her art that got her there. She says her Afro-Caribbean culture is what brings “vibrancy and flavor” to her art. But we think it’s so much more than that. With just a single glance, it’s obvious that Noriega’s background informs her work. Her use of color, the way she showcases the female form, the various complexions and skin tones she celebrates in her work, and the stunning, tropics-inspired botanical scenes she often creates speak to exactly who she is and where she comes from.

“Art has always been a place I look to boost my mood, museums, galleries, [and] learning about art history. But unfortunately in those spaces, rarely did I ever feel I belong, because my story wasn’t told on those walls, and in the rare occasion it was, it only highlighted the struggles and traumas,” she said. “I wanted to create work that would lift moods and raise the self-efficacy of Black and brown women with positive representation and vibrant depictions of joy.”

Noriega describes the art she creates with a tremendous amount of care and respect. Her mission is to create art that represents and uplifts communities that are often left out of the conversation. “I focus on women because as a woman, I know all of the challenges and barriers we face,” she said. “Inequalities in pay, harmful messaging on body image, the ongoing fight for body autonomy . . . it can be really exhausting. Add on to that the challenges being a BIPOC, and it just magnifies. My art is meant to celebrate women, inspire joy, and a reclamation of peace and rest.”

Noriega recognizes how important it is to not only amplify voices like hers but also to use her gifts and resources to speak up for people who don’t have the same advantages that she does. Even as a Black Latina, she’s cognizant of the privileges she has and the responsibility associated with them. “For me personally, I often look at my identities as a privilege, which pushes me to amplify Black voices even more. I am all too aware of the advantages I have received being a Latina in Miami, and even being ethnically Caribbean, although my race is Black,” she said. “Being able to say where your lineage comes from is a privilege many Black Americans don’t have. I have been unfairly judged and treated and had some very hurtful comments said to me, but I must also be aware of how my skin tone provides privileges, how my heritage provides privileges, and how knowing more than one language is a privilege.” And in recognizing that, she’s able to leverage her position to empower others in really visible ways.

Click here to read the full article on Pop Sugar.

How Black tech entrepreneurs are tackling health care’s race gap

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entrepreneurs photo: (from left) Kevin Dedner founded Hurdle, a mental health startup that pairs patients with therapists. Ashlee Wisdom's company, Health in Her Hue, connects women of color with culturally sensitive medical providers. Nathan Pelzer's Clinify Health analyzes data to help doctors identify at-risk patients in underserved areas. Erica Plybeah's firm, MedHaul, arranges transport to medical appointments.

By Cara Anthony, NPR

When Ashlee Wisdom launched an early version of her health and wellness website, more than 34,000 users — most of them Black — visited the platform in the first two weeks. “It wasn’t the most fully functioning platform,” recalls Wisdom, 31. “It was not sexy.” But the launch was successful. Now, more than a year later, Wisdom’s company, Health in Her Hue, connects Black women and other women of color to culturally sensitive doctors, doulas, nurses and therapists nationally.

As more patients seek culturally competent care — the acknowledgment of a patient’s heritage, beliefs and values during treatment — a new wave of Black tech founders like Wisdom want to help. In the same way Uber Eats and Grubhub revolutionized food delivery, Black tech health startups across the United States want to change how people exercise, how they eat and also how they communicate with doctors.

Inspired by their own experiences, plus those of their parents and grandparents, Black entrepreneurs are launching startups that aim to close the cultural gap in health care with technology — and create profitable businesses at the same time.

Seeing problems and solutions others miss
“One of the most exciting growth opportunities across health innovation is to back underrepresented founders building health companies focusing on underserved markets,” says Unity Stoakes, president and co-founder of StartUp Health, a company headquartered in San Francisco that has invested in a number of health companies led by people of color. He says those leaders have “an essential and powerful understanding of how to solve some of the biggest challenges in health care.”

Platforms created by Black founders for Black people and communities of color continue to blossom because those entrepreneurs often see problems and solutions others might miss. Without diverse voices, entire categories and products simply would not exist in critical areas like health care, experts in business say.

“We’re really speaking to a need,” says Kevin Dedner, 45, founder of the mental health startup Hurdle. “Mission alone is not enough. You have to solve a problem.”

Dedner’s company, headquartered in Washington, D.C., pairs patients with therapists who “honor culture instead of ignoring it,” he says. He started the company three years ago, but more people turned to Hurdle after the killing of George Floyd.

In Memphis, Tenn., Erica Plybeah, 33, is focused on providing transportation. Her company, MedHaul, works with providers and patients to secure low-cost rides to get people to and from their medical appointments. Caregivers, patients or providers fill out a form on MedHaul’s website, then Plybeah’s team helps them schedule a ride.

While MedHaul is for everyone, Plybeah knows people of color, anyone with a low income and residents of rural areas are more likely to face transportation hurdles. She founded the company in 2017 after years of watching her mother take care of her grandmother, who’d had to have both legs amputated because of complications from Type 2 diabetes. They lived in the Mississippi Delta, where transportation options were scarce.

“For years, my family struggled with our transportation because my mom was her primary transporter,” Plybeah says. “Trying to schedule all of her doctor’s appointments around her work schedule was just a nightmare.”

Plybeah’s company recently received funding from Citi, the banking giant.

“I’m more than proud of her,” says Plybeah’s mother, Annie Steele. “Every step amazes me. What she is doing is going to help people for many years to come.”

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Simone Biles Details the Trusted Tool She Uses to Help Combat Her Anxiety

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Simone Biles posing on gymnatict floormat after performance smiling with hand in the air

By People

Simone Biles is developing tools to deal with anxiety, thanks to the help of a trusted therapist.

While appearing virtually at the Child Mind Institute’s annual Child Advocacy Award dinner in New York City on Tuesday to accept the inaugural Trailblazer Award, Biles — who has been outspoken about mental health, especially in the wake of a challenging Tokyo Olympic Games — said she hopes to be “a voice for the voiceless.”

In doing so, Biles is being candid about what helps her through difficult moments.

“I do keep close contact with my therapist, I love that,” Biles, 24, said in a PEOPLE exclusive clip from the dinner. “And it’s super exciting so hopefully more people are open to going to therapy and knowing that they’re there for you and not to harm you.”

Part of what Biles’ therapist has encouraged her to do is keep a worry journal.

“I have pretty bad anxiety sometimes so she tells me in my worry journal to put from 12 to 1 p.m. — that’s the time I’ve selected — and anything I’ve written down in my worry journal, I use that hour to worry about the things then,” Biles explained. “And usually by the time 12 or 1 [p.m.] comes, I’ve already forgotten about all my worries so that kind of is a tool that helps me.”

Biles, in general, said she’s learned “to not give up, to move forward and keep pushing,” over the years, even when facing the unimaginable. She said she now sees happiness as, “Just waking up and having a positive outlook on life in general and to know that you’re blessed with another day.”

The athlete was in conversation with Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, president and medical director of the Child Mind Institute. In a press release, Koplewicz said “Simone Biles bravely showed children and the entire world this year that mental health and wellbeing should be made a priority and a foundation for everything else we do in life. The Child Mind Institute is pleased to present her with the inaugural Trailblazer Award for her courageousness and strength in using her global platform to tell young people that it’s critical to speak up and get help.”

During this year’s Summer Games, Biles removed herself from four out of five gymnastics event finals due to a case of the “twisties” — a disorienting condition that athletes can experience when they lose air awareness, putting them at risk for injury when they land.

The Olympian explained at the time that she withdrew to focus on her mental health, saying on social media that her “mind & body are simply not in sync.”

Biles ended up returning to the competition to participate in the balance beam final, for which she won bronze. The athlete also took home a silver in the team all-around final.

Click here to read the full article on People.

Boris Kodjoe on prioritizing his ‘spiritual, mental and physical health’: ‘I take time every single day to just be with myself’

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Boris Kodjoe sitting and smiling for the camera

By Erin Donnelly and Stacy Jackman, Yahoo! Life

The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.

On-screen, Boris Kodjoe is saving lives as a firefighter on the ABC action-drama Station 19. Off-screen, he’s hoping to do the same by amplifying a new Men’s Health Awareness Month campaign highlighting the risks of prostate cancer, particularly for Black men like him, who are 75 percent more likely to be diagnosed with the disease and twice as likely to die from it.

In a video interview with Yahoo Life, the Austrian-born actor stresses the importance of looking after one’s physical and mental health. In terms of the former, he’s partnering with Depend and the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) for the return of the Stand Strong for Men’s Health initiative to destigmatize male incontinence and offer support to those being treated for prostate cancer; Depend will donate up to $350,000 to the cause.

Kodjoe calls the cause a “very personal” one, as he saw a close friend and mentor undergo his own battle with prostate cancer.

“It reminded me that I needed to take care of myself,” he says. “And the first step to do that is to talk about health issues, to talk about everything that concerns us — spiritual, mental and physical health — to be vulnerable, to be open and not to consider it as a weakness to talk about these things. And as Black men, we are facing a lot of things every single day. There’s a lot of weight on our shoulders, but in order to take care of others, we’ve got to take care of ourselves first.”

The Soul Food actor hopes the initiative and breakthrough in cancer research will help draw attention and find solutions to the racial disparities present in access to quality health care. He also wants to spark conversations about other pressing health issues within the Black community, including obesity and the mental strain brought upon by the pandemic and social justice unrest.

Now 48 and a father of two — he and his actress wife Nicole Ari Parker share a daughter and son — Kodjoe is prioritizing his own health needs as he gets older.

“I’m getting to an age now where I’m the guy now holding the phone six feet away from my face so I can read what’s on the screen,” he jokes. “It’s undeniable that we’re all getting older and so we need just those constants… I’m the first one to admit that I didn’t do a great job always taking care of myself. I have a family and they depend on me, so I need to do that.”

That includes looking after his mental headspace, too.

“I practice what I preach and I take time every single day to just be with myself, whether it’s my morning prayer, meditation or laying down and stretching in my trailer when I have five or 10 minutes between shots,” he says. “There’s stuff that you can do that’s pretty simple to include in your daily routine that you could turn into a habit. And it’s important because we have so many habits that are detrimental to our health. We need to balance that out with habits that are actually good for ourselves — whether it’s mental health, spiritual health or our physical health — that will ensure that we’re here for a longer time.”

The Real Husbands of Hollywood star — who will soon make his directorial debut with the Lifetime movie Safe Space, in which he stars opposite his wife — says that his work can also be “therapeutic.”

“It’s a creative outlet,” he says. “It’s a way for me to represent who I am, to represent us [the Black community] in the most multi-dimensional way possible. Historically we’ve been sort of portrayed in one-dimensional ways. And I think that every role we take on, we try to make sure that you represent our culture in a way that shows how multi-dimensional we are. It’s an outlet that I’m really grateful to have.”

While that work is rewarding, Kodjoe is careful to maintain what he calls a “work-life list of priorities,” with his family at the top.

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

Chance the Rapper says the idea to ‘man up’ is harmful to Black men’s mental health

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Chance the Rapper is not holding back when it comes speaking about the benefits of prioritizing mental health.

By David Artavia, Yahoo! Life

Chance the Rapper is not holding back when it comes speaking about the benefits of prioritizing mental health.

In a new interview with Taraji P. Henson and her best friend Tracie Jade on Facebook Watch’s Peace of Mind with Taraji, the rapper opened up about dealing with the “dark days” of his mental health and how it inspired him to fight for better mental health services in Black communities.

“I think Black men are naturally guarded,” he said when asked about the pressure many Black men face to “man up” and not show their emotions. “You kind of have to be [because] your weakness is preyed upon. So, I think it’s a defense mechanism. You go to a funeral, like, you kind of don’t want to cry. You know what I mean? You don’t want to subject yourself to the feeling of like, that weakness, of like, you know, it just takes a lot to be cathartic, to cry, to empty yourself.”

“I saw my friend killed in front of me when I was 19,” he continued. “I’ve seen people I didn’t know get killed too, and you become kind of like numb to it. Somebody else died last week. But it stays with you, you know what I mean? And you don’t realize until later [that] it could have lasting effects.”

It was these types of discoveries that led him to donate $1 million in 2019 to mental health services in his hometown of Chicago through SocialWorks, his nonprofit organization.

“A couple of years ago, I, for the first time experienced a friend, somebody that I knew from growing up, that was having a mental health crisis,” he said. “His family and his friends had exhausted their efforts over years and years of trying to help. I didn’t really know that much about this stuff. There’s probably a ton of situations where people, you know, we just wrote them off as like, ‘crazy,’ or like, ‘they was tweaking.’ But they were actually going through a chronic mental health disorder.”

After realizing “the kind of care” his friend needed “wasn’t available in the city” for those who can’t afford it, he decided to team up with local advocates to help build the change.

“We basically found every possible mental health initiative within the city of Chicago, and then within Cook County, and then eventually through the entire state of Illinois,” he explained. “[We] created this app that allows people to get in contact, whether it’s an in-person meeting or tele-health, with a mental health service provider, and get the help that they need, instantly from their phone. And it’s free.”

While Chance acknowledges it’s great that celebrities are starting to drive the message that “health is beyond just our physical state,” he argues that equal access to mental health services isn’t going to happen until those in power, particularly “our lawmakers and the billion-dollar companies,” rise to meet the community’s need.

“We’re talented people, but we’re not the people that make the big decisions,” he said. “We’re not the people that write the biggest checks. Those kind of things have to happen.”

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

Lafayette Black woman’s journey to medical school is inspired by women and funded by Tampax

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Lafayette Black woman's journey to medical school is inspired by women and funded by Tampax

By , The Advocate

Sydney Ambrose has long found inspiration through the women in her life and hopes to one day inspire the next generation of girls.

Ambrose, a Lafayette native and pre-med student at Xavier University, credits her grandmother and her dermatologist for her success thus far. She was recently named a winner of the Tampax Flow It Forward Scholarship, which aims to close the representation gap of Black women in health care.

“Tampax is funding me to be able to pursue resources that will help me become a doctor and serve the minority community because there’s a lot of mistrust within that community,” Ambrose said. “So I think it’s important to have physicians of color and women physicians of color who can build that trust and communication that is very much needed.”

Ambrose, 20, is one of 12 scholarship recipients who will receive up to $10,000 in annual tuition assistance. The scholarship program aims to support the next generation of Black women who are pursuing degrees in health care. Black women account for less than 3% of doctors in the United States, even though Black women account for about 13% of the country’s population.

“I definitely want to help provide more access, which is a big part of this scholarship in that it’ll help me get there,” Ambrose said. “But a lot of those populations, they don’t have a Black dermatologist within reach.”

Ambrose said she was inspired to become a doctor after a visit with Dr. Jennifer Myers, a Lafayette dermatologist, when she was a teen.

“Of course she’s a female physician, so that’s obviously really inspiring for me,” Ambrose said. “But also, she didn’t just try and rush me out the door. She really took time and conversed with me and made me feel really comfortable.”

Click here to read the full article on The Advocate.

Will Smith opens up on mental health struggles

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Will Smith released a new trailer for his upcoming series Will Smith: The Best Shape Of My Life, and it teased the actor opening up about struggles with his mental health.

BY , Digital Spy

Will Smith released a new trailer for his upcoming series Will Smith: The Best Shape Of My Life, and it teased the actor opening up about struggles with his mental health.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star created the YouTube Originals series to document two journeys: trying to lose 20 pounds in 20 weeks and finishing his memoir.

The synopsis teased: “But what emerges is a Will Smith that you’ve NEVER seen before. A Will Smith who realises that what he needs to work on most is his mental health.”

In the trailer, one scene saw him open up to his family, including his children Trey, Jaden and Willow.

He told them, “That was the only time in my life that I ever considered suicide”, although the video didn’t reveal the context behind the conversation or the time in his life he was referring to.

In another scene, he read an excerpt from his upcoming autobiography to his loved ones. “What you’ve come to understand as Will Smith, the alien-annihilating MC, bigger than life movie star, is largely a construction,” he read, “a carefully crafted and honed character designed to protect myself, to hide myself from the world. To hide the coward.”

Speaking directly to the camera, the Aladdin actor said: “When I started this show, I thought I was getting into the best shape of my life physically, but mentally I was somewhere else.

“I ended up discovering a whole lot of hidden things about myself… Now I’m about to show the world how little I know about myself.”

Click here to read the full article on Digital Spy.

Advocating For Women Entrepreneurs: A Conversation With Women Impacting Public Policy President And CEO Candace Waterman

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Advocating For Women Entrepreneurs: A Conversation With Women Impacting Public Policy President And CEO Candace Waterman

By Rhett Buttle, Forbes

October is National Women’s Small Business Month where we take time to recognize the achievements of female entrepreneurs and their positive impact on the economy. Prior to Covid-19, women were the fastest-growing segment of small business owners in the United States.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has slowed this progress and compacted long-standing inequities. For example, women-only receives 4% of all commercial loan dollars and the federal government has only reached its mandated goal of awarding 5% of its contracts to Women-owned small businesses only twice.

As President and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), Candace Waterman leads a national nonpartisan organization advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs, strengthening their impact on our nation’s public policy, creating economic opportunities, and forging alliances with other business organizations. She has more than 35 years of experience across the private and public sectors and has owned three successful companies in the medical, real estate, and hospitality industries.

I recently had a conversation with Candace about the state of female entrepreneurs and WIPP’s efforts. I am grateful to her for taking the time to speak with me and below is a summary of our discussion.

Rhett Buttle: Before Covid, women were the fastest-growing segment of small business owners in the country. What can we do to support women who want to open businesses and rebuild that momentum?

Candace Waterman: It is true that prior to the pandemic, women were the fastest-growing segment of business owners in the county. While growth was strong across the board, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the fastest-growing sector was businesses owned by Black women. The pandemic has certainly turned back a huge amount of progress, as many women left the workforce or permanently closed their businesses, wiping out savings and losing out on wages and income.

From a business-to-consumer perspective, the easiest way to support women-owned businesses recovering from the pandemic is to do business with those locally, in your area. By doing so, you are helping them to keep their doors open. You may want to go a step further and recommend their businesses to friends and family. If you want to do more and have the resources to do so, you could also invest in women-owned businesses in the form of venture capital or by becoming an angel investor.

October is National Women’s Small Business Month where we take time to recognize the achievements of female entrepreneurs and their positive impact on the economy. Prior to Covid-19, women were the fastest-growing segment of small business owners in the United States.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has slowed this progress and compacted long-standing inequities. For example, women-only receives 4% of all commercial loan dollars and the federal government has only reached its mandated goal of awarding 5% of its contracts to Women-owned small businesses only twice.

As President and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), Candace Waterman leads a national nonpartisan organization advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs, strengthening their impact on our nation’s public policy, creating economic opportunities, and forging alliances with other business organizations. She has more than 35 years of experience across the private and public sectors and has owned three successful companies in the medical, real estate, and hospitality industries.

I recently had a conversation with Candace about the state of female entrepreneurs and WIPP’s efforts. I am grateful to her for taking the time to speak with me and below is a summary of our discussion.

Rhett Buttle: Before Covid, women were the fastest-growing segment of small business owners in the country. What can we do to support women who want to open businesses and rebuild that momentum?

Candace Waterman: It is true that prior to the pandemic, women were the fastest-growing segment of business owners in the county. While growth was strong across the board, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the fastest-growing sector was businesses owned by Black women. The pandemic has certainly turned back a huge amount of progress, as many women left the workforce or permanently closed their businesses, wiping out savings and losing out on wages and income.

From a business-to-consumer perspective, the easiest way to support women-owned businesses recovering from the pandemic is to do business with those locally, in your area. By doing so, you are helping them to keep their doors open. You may want to go a step further and recommend their businesses to friends and family. If you want to do more and have the resources to do so, you could also invest in women-owned businesses in the form of venture capital or by becoming an angel investor.

Another, very important way to support women-owned businesses is to incorporate them into supplier diversity pipelines and supplier development programs and give them a seat at the table when discussing matters related to small business. When women don’t have a seat at the table, their voices get lost and they can’t share their pain points and what would be most helpful to them from a solutions perspective.

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Clark Atlanta University to Lead Regional Center for Entrepreneurship as part of PNC $16.8 Million Grant

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Motion blurred shot of two business people talking through modern office hallway. People walking in office entrance hall.

Clark Atlanta University will be one of four HBCUs to lead a Regional Center for Entrepreneurship, thanks to a $16.8 million PNC grant.

The national center will be located on the campus of Howard University, and will use a regional structure to include programming at three regional HBCUs—Clark Atlanta University, Morgan State University, and Texas Southern University. CAU will lead the South region, including HBCUs in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Each regional center will lead HBCU partners in their respective areas to coordinate education programs, research strategies, business outreach, and other community outreach efforts at partner HBCUs across the country.

A significant focus for the Center and its regional HBCU partners is to engage the black business community in growing their enterprises, thereby positively impacting the community and increasing employment and wealth for the black community.

“Clark Atlanta University’s entrepreneurial legacy extends back to the intellectual genealogy of W. E. B. Du Bois, who served as a professor of economics and sociology at Atlanta University for over 23 years in the early 20th century,” said CAU President, Dr. George T. French, Jr. “Clark Atlanta University, as well as many HBCUs, are engaged with passion and unfettered creativity to initiatives to enhance black entrepreneurship within the university and their communities.  We have always been at the forefront of entrepreneurship education, including established partnerships with entrepreneurs globally.”

The CAU School of Business Administration (CAUSBA), celebrating 75 years of excellence this year, will oversee the Regional Center and will complement ongoing and evolving activities in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development (CIED). CIED was established to develop a campus-wide entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem and Lab/Maker Space.  It offers Innovation and Design Thinking Courses and Workshops; Ideation, Lean Start-Up, and Small Business Mentoring; 3D Printing & Prototyping; Tech Transfer and Commercialization Support; Hackathons; and Business Pitch Competitions.

“CIED is the optimal focal point for innovative initiatives involving campus and community stakeholders,” says School of Business Administration Dean Silvanus Udoka.  “The Regional Center for Entrepreneurship will broaden the platform for our scholars to accelerate discovery, spark innovation, and creativity to spawn the launching of our students’ entrepreneurial endeavors and professional careers.”

CAU’s School of Business also has an Entrepreneur-In-Residence program that brings experienced entrepreneurs to the School of Business Administration to advise and assist students and faculty as they launch startups or explore the commercialization of research.  EIRs provide mentorship and guidance to the CAU community on business strategy and design, and social impact.  They also connect investors with inventors, creators, and researchers.

“We are grateful to PNC for providing us with the means to enhance our entrepreneurial initiatives, while promoting collaborations as amongst HBCUs such as Howard University and other prominent regional collaborators” said President French.

About Clark Atlanta University

Established in 1988 by the historic consolidation of Atlanta University (1865) and Clark College (1869). Clark Atlanta University continues a more than 150-year legacy rooted in African-American tradition and focused on the future. Through global innovation, transformative educational experiences, and high-value engagement. CAU cultivates lifted lives that transform the world. Notable alumni include: James Weldon Johnson; American civil rights activist, poet, and songwriter (Lift Every Voice and Sing “The Black National Anthem”; Ralph David Abernathy Sr., American civil rights activist; Congressman Hank Johnson, Georgia District 4; Kenya Barris, American award-winning television and movie producer; Kenny Leon, Tony Award-winning Broadway Director; Jacque Reid, Emmy Award-winning Television Personality and Journalist; Brandon Thompson, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for NASCAR; Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the Recording Academy. To learn more about Clark Atlanta University, visit www.cau.edu.

Michael B. Jordan and Serena Williams Partner to Help HBCU Students and Alums Launch Businesses

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Michael B. Jordan and Serena Williams want to give HBCU students or alums some coins for their businesses.

By Jasmine Alyce, Atlanta Black Star

Michael B. Jordan and Serena Williams are combining their star power to help elevate the businesses of HBCU students and alumni.

The “Creed” actor partnered with Invesco QQQ and Turner Sports to bring the inaugural HBCU basketball showcase to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Dec. 18. In addition to spotlighting the universities and the talented athletes that attend them, the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic is sponsoring a startup pitch competition that will give current students and alumni the opportunity to win up to $1 million toward growing their businesses.

“Invesco QQQ and Turner Sports have been amazing partners in helping bring this experience to life,” Jordan previously said in a statement announcing the showcase. “I grew up watching basketball games on TNT, so I am confident they will deliver this set of games to a true audience of basketball fans and their families in an exciting way.”

The pitch competition was created in partnership with Serena Williams‘ SerenaVentures and MaC Venture Capital. Participants who want their piece of the pie will be required to submit business proposals and investor decks online now through Nov. 18 to qualify.

“HBCUs are an integral part of our educational ecosystem and have long been centers of entrepreneurial excellence. We are thrilled to be partnering with Michael B. Jordan and MaC Ventures on highlighting the brilliant student and alumni founders,” Serena Ventures General Partner Alison Stillman said in a press release.

Click here to read the full article on Atlanta Black Star

October Is Black Professionals Month, A Push To Make Corporate Leadership More Diverse

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black professionals month logo

The first day of October is the first day of a month-long push to help make corporate leadership more diverse. It’s the brain-child of two black executives who say it’s time to have more diversity at the top, so they are trying something new.

It’s called Black Professionals Month, 31 days of events, recognitions and celebrations.

Denise Kaigler is one of the co-founders. She told WBZ-TV it’s time to work together. Watch video here.

“There is a such a great opportunity for us to come together, black professionals to come together, to work together, to increase our presence, black professionals’ presence in leadership roles around the world,” Kaigler said.

October 1st starts a month-long series of virtual events and speakers, all with the goal of inspiring and coaching black talent.

“We are also going to be bringing speakers together to host sessions that cover a wide range of topics that impact the ability of black professionals to climb up that corporate ladder, personal branding, career advancement sessions,” Kaigler told WBZ.

Right now, she says, the numbers are bad. Black professionals hold only 3.2 percent of all executive or senior leadership roles in America, a change she knows can’t happen by the end 31 days, but one they plan to push for years to come.

Read the complete article on CBS local.

‘Shark Tank’ Hires Emma Grede To Be First Black Woman On Panel

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On Shark Tank Emma Grede To Be First Black Woman On Panel

By Alexis Reese, BET

There’s a new shark in town!

For the newest season of Shark Tank, the series will have its first Black woman shark on the panel. Good American CEO and SKIMS founding partner Emma Grede, will be one of this season’s guest panelists. She will join recurring sharks, Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner and Barbara Corcoran.

Grede, an entrepreneur from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by way of London, will make her grand appearance during the season premiere on Oct. 8, according to Shadow And Act.

Grede graduated with a business degree in business studies at The London College of Fashion and has worked with brands like Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Zac Posen, Christopher Kane, Chivas, Mercedes-Benz, and Sky.

She currently is the chairman of entertainment brand ITB with clients like Calvin Klein, Net-a-Porter and H&M.

‘I’ve been doing celebrity partnerships for a long time, and I started to realize that a lot of what I was being asked to do was to put together very ‘diverse’ campaigns,” she told ELLE UK. “Oftentimes, I would cast women [in a campaign] for a brand that didn’t make clothes that would fit them. ‘I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if we created a company where we made clothes for every woman, and the company looked exactly like the ‘diverse’ campaign, with me at the helm, a Black woman?’, and it worked.”

Click here to read the full article on BET.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022