How do we honor a month that serves to spotlight those who should have been heralded all along? When we think of those we champion, encourage, lift up and celebrate in the African-American community, it may be easy to recall an athlete, a great actor, a musician. But we at Cultivate Advisors are committed to growing small businesses and honoring entrepreneurs who are the very lifeblood of innovation and economic growth.
So, it’s in that spirit that we’d like to tell you about some exemplary role models, the black entrepreneurs that we look to in the hopes that this month—Black History Month—has an impact year-round.
Straight From the Heart
It’s hard to imagine a business with more impact than one that affects your health. Adelanwa Adesanya created Moving Analytics in partnership with Stanford University, based on 30 years of research, to help people thrive after heart disease through their suite of virtual cardiac rehab and prevention programs. Driven to do good, he was listed as Forbes 30 under 30 in healthcare and named the Best Boot Strapped Startup. In his free time, he runs the Multicultural Angel Investor Network, a non-profit whose mission is to create a culture of angel investing amongst multicultural professionals. Way to pay it forward, Adelanwa!
Challenges Get a Makeover
The owner of the sweet-themed beauty brand, Beauty Bakerie, Cashmere Nicole, is, at 36, a rockstar in the world of beauty, but once a 16-year-old single mother, breast cancer survivor, on food stamps who waited in line for donated coats, her life could’ve worked out differently. She remembers when she was young and her aunts sold Avon, there was nothing that worked for the shade of their skin. As she got older, she recalls the black cosmetics relegated to the bottom shelf. So, she started Beauty Bakerie with the motto “better, not bitter” to remind all of us not to choose to give up. We’d say it’s working. Her line is now carried in Ulta Beauty stores, and true to her motto, the business just gets better and better.
No Bars on Kindness
Frederick Hutson had a few trip-ups in life. A born entrepreneur, he sold his first business at 19, before getting into trouble and serving time in prison. It was there that he discovered a way to make a difference for the disenfranchised. Prison calls are pricey, so Frederick started Pigeonly, which allows loved ones to send inmates photos, greeting cards, and more right from a cell phone, tablet, or computer. Not only has Pigeonly reduced prison call cost by 80%, in doing so, but he has also become one of the largest independent inmate service providers in the country. What does Frederick have to say about it? On his Facebook header, he makes this statement, “Hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle.” This man of action is looking out for others.
For the black-owned businesses in the U.S., as of the 2019, 28.5% are in healthcare or social assistance. The top 100 black-owned businesses, produced more than $25 billion in revenues and employed more than 70,000 workers. The best history we can imagine is for the number of these businesses to grow—to bring access and equity to the world of America’s small businesses. Let’s all celebrate Black History Month with the entrepreneurial spirit of these examples—to do better, to rise above challenges, and to reach out to others.
Nancy Benjamin is a Dynamic Business Advisor with Cultivate Advisors. After 24 years of running a successful international import business, Nancy knows how to guide small businesses for impressive growth.