The Crusader Newspaper Group

Investing in America’s Diversity

Beyond the Rhetoric

By Harry C. Alford

Our children are at a “cross roads.” If they don’t get a handle on technology they are going to be lost. The National Black Chamber of Commerce has decided to provide avenues for them to speed up their technical knowledge so that they may compete in this capitalistic world. Right now, the collective masses of young Blacks are underserved. It is very important that we don’t let them become the “left behind” entity of our population. We and other organizations must not let them slow their growth and intellectual development.

The main ingredient is understanding the importance of entrepreneurship. The blue-collar world is being taken over by machinery or robotic application. Those who do not understand this demand of the modern world will be lost. They must understand the importance of “Optimistic Vision.” The smart ones will identify a need and come up with the solution. They will take that solution; patent this “dream” into reality; sell it and prosper from the innovation; all the while creating jobs and economic vitality for their communities. These millennials will form new “Wall Streets” throughout our great nation. This isn’t fashion or a trend – it is a means to survival for this nation. Diversity will prevail over all other models of society. The following is our new campaign that will begin this Spring. We are going to spread this throughout our urban communities. You all are encouraged to join in or start your own version. Here is our plan:

It is my distinct pleasure to invite you to participate and support the National Black Chamber of Commerce’s (NBCC) Business Innovation for the Next Generation initiative.

This year, we’re delivering customized guidance and resources to help our future business leaders succeed. We’ve collaborated with humble impact, a 501(c)3 that educates, accelerates, and invests in underserved communities to create and support an ecosystem where entrepreneurs learn from each other and experts.

Business Innovation for the Next Generation connects entrepreneurs to each other and the bigger business ecosystem to share their lessons broadly, ensure that the best ideas and tools spread, and to deliver more timely and greater impact.

The economic strength of Black consumers is on the rise, accounting for a $2.5 trillion in annual purchasing power (an increase of 77 percent from 2000–2013). Fifty percent of the Black population are Millennials or younger. We’re challenging the forces at play with tackling why such a highly attractive consumer market has so far been technologically underserved, why investment arms do not have good excuses like ‘pipeline’ or ‘not enough deal flow’ for having a weak network and lack of access to these deals, and if the investment community continues to invest in companies whose founders look the same as they always have and focus on solving the problems of the people that they always have, results (and returns) will not hold up to the coming changes…because the world is shifting under their feet.

Our goal is to launch and grow sustainable and scalable businesses, cultivate a cooperative ecosystem for technological innovation, and build national brand awareness about the entrepreneurial thought and action within the African American community.

We are hoping this NBCC innovation initiative will be of interest to you. There are various levels of sponsorship to choose from ranging from $275,000 to $25,000. Your generous sponsorship would be most beneficial. There is a complete sponsorship packet for your preview detailing all levels and what is included at each level. I look forward to collaborating with you to make the NBCC Business Innovation for the Next Generation a success.

NBCC’s year long acceleration programming starts with a 3-round pitch competition where hundreds of entrepreneurs will compete for one of 10 spots in the semifinals located in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, GA. The top two startups from each city will be flown to the NBCC annual conference where they will compete for placement in a 12-week sales-focused acceleration program with services and support from AWS, Microsoft BizSpark, eShares, and others valued at $150K. The winner will also receive $5K in cash.

In addition, more than 250 entrepreneurs from across the country will be selected in nine cohort batches to receive industry leading lean startup and designing thinking instruction, created in collaboration with Ash Maurya, author of Running Lean and Scaling Lean. The humble impact staff drives entrepreneur accountability and progress for eight weeks via the humble LEAN- STACK tech platform. Entrepreneurs compress the time-cycles to innovation through an ecosystem of mentors from some of the leading accelerators like Techstars, high-growth startups like Rackspace, and corporations like yourself. Included in the program is an online seminar on financial literacy, infrastructure growth based on maturity, and how to master the pitch. Entrepreneurs leverage resources and track progress for 12 months.

Mr. Alford is the co–founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: Email: [email protected].

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