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Celebrating the African-American Entrepreneurial Spirit

In 1999, United Bank of Philadelphia, which was named Bank of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Financial Company of the Year by Black Enterprise magazine, received $3 million in funding from the U.S. Treasury as part of its Community Development Financial Institution program. The bank created a Community Development Corporation (CDC) called Philadelphia United to “support the continued growth of United Bank and enable it to more effectively serve its customers in the underserved communities and stimulate local economic growth.” Philadelphia United focuses on loans at the $20,000-and-upward level for local African-American business owners.

Shine the spotlight on Emma C. Chappell, founder, chairman, and chief executive of United Bank of Philadelphia. She launched her bank in 1992 with investments from 3000 African-American Philadelphians. Today, the bank is a $100 million asset institution, and the only African-American-owned and operated FDIC-insured commercial bank in the Pennsylvania/Delaware/Southern New Jersey area. The institution prides itself on being a model “community bank.”

On the March

To learn more about United Bank of Philadelphia and its Philadelphia United program, visit www.unitedbankofphila.com, or call 215-829-BANK.

Why It's Worth Celebrating

United Bank of Philadelphia has a deep commitment to supporting local businesses. Its work with the Treasury Department and Philadelphia United CDC is only part of the picture. Chappell estimates that her bank has created 80 local jobs directly, and something on the order of 5,000 jobs indirectly.

The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship

The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE, or “nifty”) teaches youth—and particularly inner-city youth—how to build businesses. Its mission is to instruct low-income youngsters between the ages of 11 and 18 in the skills of entrepreneurship. It does this by helping them upgrade their academic, technology, business, and interpersonal skills. The organization received the 2002 Esteemed Golden Lamp Award from the Association of Educational Publishers. Since 1987, NFTE has worked with over 40,000 low-income young people in underserved communities.

Shine the spotlight on Tom Brown, who won the NFTE National Teacher of the Year Award in 2002. After receiving the award, Brown, a Washington, D.C., teacher, said that getting the honor reinforced his “passion for demonstrating to at-risk youth that they have a future, and that it is possible for them to bring their dreams of escaping poverty to reality by learning how to become economically independent.”

On the March

To learn more about the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, visit www.nfte.com, or call 212-232-3333.

Why It's Worth Celebrating

Over a decade and a half, NFTE has secured enough funding from “corporations, foundations, and individuals” to sustain its vision and help high-risk youth improve school performance and broaden personal horizons. You can celebrate its good work—and help the organization expand its reach and influence—by donating money, volunteering your time, or sharing your own business and teaching skills. NFTE has U.S. offices in New York City; White Plains, New York; Babson Park, Massachusetts; Pittsburgh; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C. (There are also office in Argentina, Belgium, El Salvador, India, and the United Kingdom.)

National Black Business Trade Association

The group's slogan is “Empowering Black Entrepreneurs Worldwide in a Global Marketplace,” and it lives up to the idea. Established in 1993 by a group of African-American business owners aiming to offer resources addressing the unique problems faced by the African-American business community, the National Black Business Trade Association (NBBTA) set a number of critical long-term goals, including.

  • Increasing the ranks of the African-American entrepreneur; only 9 African-Americans per 1,000 currently own businesses, whereas the comparable figure for whites is 64.
  • Attracting the best and the brightest into the African-American business community.
  • Improving the image of the African-American entrepreneur … thereby making the choice to start a business an attractive one for Africans who might otherwise embark on careers in medicine, law, or other professions.

In support of these and other goals, the NBBTA offers, among many resources, a “re-affirmative action plan” that emphasizes personal training, networking, community support, and outreach efforts designed to secure a greater portion of the African-American market for African-American businesses.

Shine the spotlight on Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, whose writings and principles support the organization's intriguing “re-affirmative action plan.”

On the March

To learn more about the National Black Business Trade Association, visit www.nbbta.com.

Why It's Worth Celebrating

The online list of African-American related business organizations alone is worth exploring closely. You can check it out at www.nbbta.com.

National Black Chamber of Commerce

Incorporated in 1993, the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) represents over 64,000 African-American-owned businesses nationwide. Its mission includes “empowering and sustaining African-American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activities within the United States.” It is a nonprofit, nonsectarian, nonpartisan group committed to supporting economic growth in African-American communities. NBCC is the largest African-American business organization in the world.

Shine the spotlight on NBCC president and CEO Harry Alford, who recently took part in the President's Economic Forum at Baylor University as a member of the Corporate Responsibility Panel.

On the March

To learn more about the National Black Chamber of Commerce, visit www.nationalbcc.org or call 202-466-6888.

Why It's Worth Celebrating

NBCC's programs include extensive policy and advocacy efforts. The organization also provides legislative updates and offers members access to a variety of networking and training events. The Chamber points African-American business owners toward training on how best to win government-related business, pointing out (accurately) that “if federal dollars are involved, black businesses must be involved” under the provisions of Title VI. As if all that weren't enough, you can also download a free Small Business Financial Resource Guide—complete with federal- and state-specific financial resources—through the NBCC Web site.

On the March

To learn more about the African-American Women Business Owners Association, visit www.blackpgs.com/aawboa.html, or call 202-399-3645.

African-American Women Business Owners Association

This association is a Washington, D.C.-based resource and networking group open to any type of business owned and operated by African-American women.

Shine the spotlight on Internet Black Pages (www.blackpgs.com), which sponsors the organization's online presence.

Why It's Worth Celebrating

It's a great example of a local organization supporting African-American entrepreneurship on a national scale—thanks to the Internet.

Minority Business Development Agency

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) offers a wealth of information on access to markets, access to capital, management and technical assistance, and education and training.

Shine the spotlight on MBDA National Director Ronald N. Langston. Langston—an executive with deep experience in the real estate, financial services, and computer industries—directs the Department of Commerce's minority business development initiatives, and helps to develop strategies for serving minority business operators.

On the March

To learn more about the Minority Business Development Agency, visit www.mbda.gov or call 202-482-0404.

Why It's Worth Celebrating

No membership fees, no strings, no affiliations. Just great information on great programs—like the summary sheet on the MBDA's Equity Capital Access program, which offers minority entrepreneurs training in securing equity capital. Two hundred entrepreneurs will take part in the initial training and analysis phase of program; of those, 25 will be selected for a “boot camp,” where they will be “drilled in the fundamentals of obtaining venture capital.” It's just one of the hundreds of initiatives and information resources available through the MBDA. To learn more, check out the organization's website at www.mbda.gov.

Sablenet

Billing itself as “the Internet address for African-American businesses,” Sablenet offers a news service, a business center, a job and career center, information on international trade, free web-based e-mail accounts, a directory of African-American businesses, and much more.

Shine the spotlight on H. B. Henderson, president of Sablenet, Inc., whose brainchild the site is.

On the March

To learn more about Sablenet, visit www.sablenet.com or call 205-685-0184.

Why It's Worth Celebrating

Well designed and easy to navigate, Sablenet features some great tools and access to a wealth of information of interest to African-American entrepreneurs.

The Black Greek Network

No, the “Greek” in the title has nothing to do with ethnic heritage. The Black Greek Network is a group created to “encourage nepotism” in the African-American community; it does so by encouraging business and social contacts among members of “important fellowship organizations” that include, but aren't limited to, African-American fraternities and sororities (which, like many other fraternities and sororities, are identified by Greek letters). Other organizations whose members figure into the organization's unapologetic, informal promotion of African-American talent include the Prince Hall Masons, Eastern Star, and major organizations such as the NAACP and the Urban League.

(Translation: You don't have to be in a fraternity or sorority to benefit from membership.)

Shine the spotlight on Devon Williams and Otis Collier cofounders and co-executive directors. A joint statement from the two encapsulates the group's vision: “Our goal is to help African-Americans develop business socialization skills by arranging different meeting venues including business workshops, Internet communities, and networking jamborees.”

On the March

To learn more about the Black Greek Network, visit www.blackgreeknetwork.com or call 866-841-9139.

Why It's Worth Celebrating

The organization is exclusively devoted to helping African-American business people develop business social skills and high-level personal networking campaigns. It's a great contact resource for those African-Americans interested in starting, financing, staffing, or running a business. If that's you, and you're willing to make the most of (or initiate) membership in one of the relevant groups, you owe it to yourself to join.

Supporting the Community

Organizations and campaigns like these are leading the way in supporting economic empowerment in the African-American community. Learn more about them—and get involved in your own community by supporting African-American-owned businesses!

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to African-American History © 2003 by Melba J. Duncan. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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