By: Patrice Gamble
In June while everyone celebrates Fathers, Black to Business, an online community connecting Black entrepreneurs with the resources to succeed, celebrates Black Men. Yesterday Black to Business hosted its first-ever Men Who Lead panel on the heels of its sister panel Women Who Lead which took place in May. Sponsored by Verizon, the event was held at their co-working space, Alley @ 140 West St., in lower Manhattan.
The event featured five Black men excelling in entrepreneurship and addressed many questions surrounding everything from operating a business while still working a 9-to-5 to securing funding when your business is ready to grow.
When asked why she felt this event was a necessity for Black Men, Monique T. Marshall, Black to Business Chief-in-Charge commented: “In an internet search for Black male entrepreneurs you find that there aren’t many resources available for Black men looking to succeed in business. I wanted to remedy this issue by giving gentlemen whom I know are thriving — like our panelists tonight— a platform to educate their peers and offer guidance, and I hope that we can keep this going for many years to come.”
Panelist included Anthony Fraiser, technology entrepreneur, digital strategist, and CEO of ABF Creative; Ofo Ezeugwu, co-founder and CEO of WhoseYourLandlord; Lloyd Cambridge, Progress Playbook founder; Mark Clennon, NYC based photographer specializing in lifestyle and editorial photography; and Moderator Aquaus Kelly brand strategist, curator, educator and founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group. In the audience amongst creatives, current and aspiring business owners, and influencers was special guest Alfred Edmond, SVP and Editor-at-Large of Black Enterprise who spoke to guests about the publications upcoming initiatives to uplift Black business men.
“So often I’d see a huge accomplishment and say to myself ‘Why didn’t I start earlier.’ And, I really had to sit down and unpack that.” recalled photographer Mark Clennon as he explained one of his greatest pitfalls starting out. “When I did, I realized that I was scared… I was afraid of looking like a beginner. We’re so used to seeing everything packaged and finished and perfect that it’s almost embarrassing not to know how to do something. [But that’s ok.] Everyone is a beginner at one time or another.”
Raw and unfiltered comments like this poured from panelists the entire evening. Each shared their personal “truths” and lessons about running a business as a person of color, leaving audience members with a wealth of knowledge to reflect on.
Black to Business will present its second annual Men Who Lead in June 2019.
About Black to Business
A community focused on bringing the highest quality of resources and connections to Black entrepreneurs, we were created to bring economic prosperity to the Black community through business creation. Our mission is to put entrepreneurs in the right rooms with the right people and assist them in taking actionable steps to start and grow their businesses. We achieve this by providing aspiring Black entrepreneurs with educational resources — podcast interviews with vetted entrepreneurs, carefully curated live events, blog posts, and the promotion of events throughout the country — ultimately fostering economic growth and positioning Black businesses as competitors in the global market.