All Articles Tagged "African American business owners"
Business schools love to boast of their diverse student body population. They claim minority enrollment is up, with many of the top programs declaring that their ethnic and racial minorities comprise a quarter or more of their student population. But when you take a closer look at the numbers, you discover that most of it is simply an illusion. That’s not to say that these schools aren’t diverse, but when it comes to minority numbers, the Wall Street Journal reports that Asian-Americans are statistically overrepresented at business schools in comparison to their percentage of the greater US population. African-American, Hispanic Americans and Native American numbers however, continue to remain low.
“When you look at B-school demographics, you see pretty healthy numbers on overall minorities,” John Rice, founder and chief executive of Management Leadership for Tomorrow said to the Wall Street Journal. His organization is one of the largest nonprofit organizations that supports underrepresented groups business school applications. “When you unpack it a little bit, the numbers are very different.”
Take for instance, Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. This program recently released that 34 percent of its graduating two-year M.B.A. class next spring will be minorities—a three percent gain from this year’s graduating class. Once Asian-American numbers are removed from that percentage, you’ll find that underrepresented minority group numbers fell from 15 to 12 percent. Then again, 10 years ago, the school’s minority class was at 19 percent with only eight percent underrepresented minority.
University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business issued that its 2013 graduating class consisted of 28 percent minorities, but only 10 percent were African American, Hispanic American or Native American. Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business is no better, with a 27 percent minority representation with only nine percent of that group comprising underrepresented minorities. The Yale School of Management has a 25 percent minority population while its underrepresented minority population reaches only seven percent.
According to Peter J. Aranda III, the executive director and CEO of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, a nonprofit that offers application assistance and financial aid to minorities in business school, not only do schools distort their minority numbers, there’s also “a portion of the general public that think 30% is a good number.”
But low percentages are only part of the program. Schools disclose that their application pool lacks applicants from underrepresented populations. Scott Shrum, the director of M.B.A. admissions research at Veritas Prep, which is a firm that advises business-school applicants, tells the Wall Street Journal that even outstanding minority candidates lack the confidence needed to apply for the top business schools as well as mentors to encourage them.
“Sometimes they need a little more coaxing to actually pull the trigger” and apply, he said.
MEET Vera Moore: Vera Moore, the President and CEO of Vera Moore Cosmetics, is a former actress who has portrayed “Linda” on Another World for 12 years. Her cosmetic credits include working on Hollywood movie and television sets for The Antwone Fisher Story (starring Denzel Washington), The Bill Cosby Show, The Guru and Saturday Night Live. This dynamic beauty expert offers a comprehensive line of cosmetic and skincare products for the professional and retail market. With more than 30 years of experience in the theatre, television and beauty industry, and the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, Vera now celebrates the launch of Vera Moore Cosmetics in the new upscale environment of the Duane Reade stores and, nationally, in select Walgreens LOOK boutique locations.
MN: Earlier in your career you portrayed the character “Linda” on the soap opera, Another World. You also acted on Search for Tomorrow and As The World Turns. What inspired you to go from acting and television to starting your own cosmetics company?
VM: There was a void in the market for quality makeup for Black women at that time. This was in the 1970’s. I didn’t want to wear what the masses were offering, because it was red, oily and rubbed off on your clothes. Also, the colors offered for the beautiful women of a darker hue turned gray and ashy on their skin. Makeup at that time didn’t allow the true color of women with beautiful dark skin to shine through. Add to this the fact that on Another World I portrayed “Linda Metcalf” a nurse from Bay City General. I had a big problem. Not only were the makeup colors not right, I didn’t want to get the colors on my white uniform or anything else I touched. As I sought a way to meet this challenge, I became inspired to go into the cosmetics business.
MN: Businesses cannot succeed without capital. What resources did you use to finance your business and how much did you initially invest in Vera Moore Cosmetics?
VM: In 1979, when I started Vera Moore Cosmetics, I received a loan for $70,000 that was backed up by the Small Business Administration (SBA). I had to repay the loan within seven years. My husband and I had to personally guarantee the loan by putting our house up for collateral. This was a herculean challenge, a huge risk. Not many people are going to mortgage their home for a business not knowing the end results. However when you are passionate, determined and laser focused, that’s what you do. We let go of the trunk of the tree and got out on a limb where the fruit is. There are no guarantees, no paycheck every Friday when you own your own business. It’s risk and reward.
MN: What was the biggest challenge you faced as a business owner? How did you overcome this challenge?
VM: The biggest challenge I faced involved capital and expansion. As you grow your business, expenses grow right along with you. Every entrepreneur knows that it’s imperative to keep the mentality of lean and mean but inevitably you must hire more employees to meet business demands. However you learn how to work smarter vs. harder as you become a seasoned business owner. As a bit of advice, have a business plan and a marketing plan to use as road maps as to how you are going to get through your daily hurdles and your projects. Proper planning also allows you to know in advance how you are going to achieve your short and long term goals. When you put your plans down on paper and see it in writing, the challenges are not as frightening. The tasks of operating and managing a business are still daunting, but, with plans, you know which priorities to focus on first. For example, would you go on a trip without a plan, without knowing where you’re going, what you’re going to wear, where you’re going to stay, the expense of the trip, etc.? As you can see it takes a plan to succeed.
MN: When did you realize that you had a viable business and what did you do to celebrate this milestone?
VM: We realized that we had a viable business when the phones started ringing. New customers were calling based on referrals. People were talking about Vera Moore Cosmetics. We did out of town trade shows to get new customers and to get the word out. People knew our brand. Our marketing strategies paid off and soon customers wanted to know how they could get the products in the future. These marketing events blossomed into another avenue of distribution, mail order. Also, and I will never forget. . . . A wonderful thing happened to me. I was at an event. I went into the bathroom and a lady took out a compact and it was a Vera Moore compact. Seeing the compact brought a feeling of exhilaration, created a Wow! moment, letting me know that all the years of hard work were worthwhile. I celebrated by thanking God for the faith to persevere, for allowing me to stay the course and not give up. I also reinvested back into my business by purchasing technology which allowed me to work more efficiently and effectively.
Ephren Taylor II could have been the much needed entrepreneurial role model in the black community. He called himself the youngest-ever black CEO and his business, City Capital Corporation, was founded to supposedly assist charities and businesses in poor communities. Turns out, Taylor’s business wasn’t quite as giving as it appeared. CNN Money reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission is charging Taylor with running a Ponzi scheme, alleging he swindled more than $11 million from investors from 2008 to 2010.
“Ephren Taylor professed to be in the business of socially-conscious investing,” CNN Money reports David Woodcock, the director of the SEC’s Fort Worth regional office, said in a statement.
“Instead, he was in the business of promoting Ephren Taylor…He preyed upon investors’ faith and their desire to help others, convincing them that they could earn healthy returns while also helping their communities.”
Taylor proclaiming he’d been able to earn his first million while running a software company in high school. He had been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox News and NPR, offering his take on running a successful business. He used the money from City Capital Corporation to fund his lavish lifestyle, promote his three books, travel on a speaking tour and promote his wife’s singing career.
“People have lost their homes, people have become estranged from their families,” Cathy Lergman, a lawyer for City Capital Corporation’s investors said. “He devastated a lot of people, and he targeted his own — he targeted African-American Christians, and those people have suffered greatly from being affiliated with Ephren Taylor.”
Wendy Connor, the former chief operating officer of Taylor City Capital Corporation is also facing charges. As of yet it is uncertain whether Taylor has legal representation. His spokeswoman disclosed that she no longer represented him.
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Who says you can’t have it all? This couple did. In one year they married, had a baby and started a lucrative business. It may sound too good to be true but Inc.com tells their story.
Selena met Khary Cuffe while studying at Harvard Business School in 2002. Khary was a prospective graduate student visiting the campus. They started dated dating and in August of 2005, married in Egypt on top of Mount Sinai. (How Romantic!)
Six months into their marriage, Selena traveled to South Africa while Khary worked on his joint degree from Harvard Business School and Kennedy School of Government. Khary had no intentions of starting any entrepreneurial ventures until Selena called him from Johannesburg, detailing an important find: in a country where wine making was a centuries old tradition and 90 percent of the population was black, less than 2 percent of the wine industry was black owned.
Selena and Khary both immediately saw it as an opportunity for a business in wine production. They wanted to share the taste of African wine with the western world and with the support of their professors, started Heritage Link Brands in October 2005.
Seven days after they started the business, Selena learned she was pregnant. For a newlywed couple with an even newer business, a baby certainly made things complicated. But Selena and Khary overcame the challenges and took on marriage, parenthood and business ownership at the same time–successfully. In addition to their successful business, the couple now shares a column on Inc.com that details their story, what they learned along the way and offers their tips on wine and entrepreneurial ventures.
In Silicon Valley, black faces can be hard to spot in the pool of entrepreneurs. And the African-Americans that do make attempts at starting innovative business often encounter lack of funding. It’s what entrepreneur turned venture capitalist Mitch Kapor calls “mirror-toracy.” He tells The Bay Citizen that business professionals tend to finance people who look and act like them as they fit their image of success. African American aspiring entrepreneurs are left out, and desperately need the resources and financial backing to get them started. That’s one reason why Angela Benton founded the New Media Entrepreneurship Accelerator, (NewME).
Benton, previously based in Charlotte, NC, realized the disparity in African American entrepreneurs when she took a visit to the Google Headquarters. She held a mixer for black entrepreneurs and was amazed when 100 people showed up, excited to meet other like-minded individuals. Although a report from CB Insights, a venture capital information database, observed that less than one percent of the venture capital-backed tech companies in California were started by blacks, the desire and the people were there.
Benton realized that there was a need for a community to support black entrepreneurs, but no one had thought to create it. These future business leaders simply needed an incubator and a community to nurture their business ventures.
Similar to other incubator programs, NewME provides resources and networking opportunities to potential business owners. In its first workshop held last summer, NewMe had eight participants, three of which are now starting up business in Silicon Valley. Two others are looking to start their business elsewhere.
“We need 10 NewMEs,” Chad Womack, a co-founder of the America 21 Project, said to an audience of black professionals in San Francisco. “We need to clone Angela and spread her around the country, if we can.”
America 21 works to encourage African Americans to take on technology business as a way to earn wealth. The non-profit groups plans to create opportunities for inner city youth with the help of the White House and hopefully initiaitves such as NewME.
Benton said she is now planning to hold a 12-week follow-up program in the spring. This time, the requirements for participants will be a bit stiffer and more in line with other incubator programs. All must commit to giving NewME four percent of the company’s equity.