All Articles Tagged "entrepreneurship"

PowerMoves NOLA To Provide Over $100K In Funding To Minority Business Owners

February 2nd, 2014 - By Sakita Holley
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Image: iStockphoto

Image: iStockphoto

When it comes to finding funding for startups, race matters. According to a study conducted by the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire, minorities made up only 8.5 percent of entrepreneurs pitching potential investors last year. Of that group, only 15 percent were able to secure funding. The number of minority investors seeking and being approved for business loans are equally low.

Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of discussion around finding a remedy for this problem; but few solutions have come of it. PowerMoves NOLA, a new organization based in New Orleans is hoping to change that with the introduction of their inaugural pitch competition which will take place at the Essence Festival this July. Designed to increase access to capital and resources for rising entrepreneurs, the organization will provide more than $100,000 in funding to minority business owners and create additional opportunities for mentorship and coaching.

I spoke with the September Hargrove, the executive director of PowerMoves NOLA who gave me some insight into the initiative and how eligible business owners can get involved in the competition and potentially win funding for their company.

Madame Noire (MN): How would you describe the PowerMoves NOLA Initiative for people who are hearing about it for the first time? 

September Hargrove (SH): PowerMoves NOLA is a concerted effort to showcase talented minority entrepreneurs. Our goal is to increase the number of venture-backed minority entrepreneurs and to help change the national narrative by promoting the power of opportunity for minority entrepreneurs. As a result, we hope more individuals become entrepreneurs and have access to a national network capital, advisors and support.

MN: What is the process for companies/entrepreneurs to be considered as candidates for each of the pitch rounds? 

SH: We are accepting nominations now on our website. Nominations will be accepted through the end of February 2014. Entrepreneurs will then be invited to apply in March. Up to 20 businesses will be selected to pitch over July 4th weekend.

After One Business Failed, Andrea Polk Persevered To Create Skin Care Line Solo Noir For Men

December 2nd, 2013 - By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
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Andrea Polk with her line of Solo Noir products

Andrea Polk with her line of Solo Noir products

Owning a business was not part of the career track Andrea Polk initially envisioned for herself. “As a child, the word ‘entrepreneur’ was never a term that was part of my vocabulary,” Polk explains. “I was never taught how to own a business, but rather how to be a great employee.” But after years growing other people’s brands in corporate America, Polk says she decided to invest her sales and marketing background in her own vision — a skin care business targeting men. Her first foray didn’t work out, but she persisted to launch Solo Noir, an organic grooming line for men of color.

Polk calls her last day working a 9-5 “life changing.” She elaborates, “I remember leaving work that day in a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts of uncertainty and fear. As I was sitting in my car, I turned on the radio and heard Mary Mary[‘s] ‘Go Get It’. At that moment, I knew it was time to go after my true blessing and calling.” She adds, “Two hours later, I was setting up Solo Noir at a pop-up location and have been working purposefully and happily ever since.”

We asked Polk what kept her going in spite of initial setback, and what keeps her moving forward.

MadameNoire: What inspired you to start Solo Noir?

Andrea Polk: Solo Noir was inspired by the lack of representation in the male grooming market. The ethnic grooming market is underserved and major market companies do not feel that ethnic grooming is a profitable market.  My vision started in college when I was given the task of creating a mock business plan…  While doing research for my project I realized that I had a passion for the male grooming industry.

MN: Were you a little gun shy about re-entering the male skin care market after your initial experience? 

AP: I learned a lot from my previous failures and am now able to avoid making the same mistakes with Solo Noir…  I have been able to put systems in place to minimize failure such as partnering with a manufacturer that can produce, test, insure, package, and distribute my products, along with developing [an] infrastructure that has the ability to withstand growth.  In my mind, I have the perfect recipe for success, and I am not going to allow the downfall of one business be a roadblock for Solo Noir.

MN: How did you secure funding for Solo Noir?

AP: I cashed in a large portion of my life savings toward building my brand…  As a child my mother set aside a cash reserve for me to be used for a home, starting a family, and/or incidentals. After I graduated with my graduate degree [in Supply Chain Management and Aesthetics], I realized that life wasn’t falling into the natural order of which most people follow—marriage, kids, home—so I persuaded her in allowing me to allocate the money toward starting Solo Noir.

MN: What are the advantages or disadvantages being a woman and owner of a business geared toward men? 

AP: My biggest challenge is convincing them that grooming is not a feminine quality [but] a human quality.  Historically the beauty industry has not focused on the male consumer, or better yet the ethnic market, so men have been accustomed to not thinking skin care and grooming is for them.

…Being a woman selling and owning a male product [has] been both a hindrance and an advantage.  It is a hindrance because I don’t personally have the same skin issues as a man because of obvious reasons. But it has been an advantage because as a woman I know what women like to see in a man, and that’s smooth and healthy skin so I have created a line to promote that. Although challenging I don’t know a person other than myself that is more equipped for the task.

How To Grow Your Money Through Entrepreneurship

October 30th, 2013 - By Madame Noire
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From Black Enterprise 

Kanyessa McMahon recognized an opportunity and jumped on it. In 2008, after a frustrating four-month stint working at a video production company, she acted on her entrepreneurial aspirations.

“I was 25 at the time,” says McMahon. “My job wasn’t working out because I wasn’t getting paid on time. My paychecks were bouncing, and my skills weren’t being utilized.”

McMahon left the company and, through an industry connection, acquired her first client—Nike. The 31-year-old now calls the shots as head of her own production company.

“Most people who become wealthy do it through entrepreneurship,” says Lanta Evans-Motte, a financial adviser at Raymond James, a diversified financial services holding company.

A recent study by U.S. Trust, which surveys high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth Americans, revealed that 84% of the survey’s 450 wealthy respondents earned their wealth themselves.

Read more at 

Learn Marketing Skills For Your Small Business From Tech Expert Ramon Ray

October 23rd, 2013 - By Madame Noire
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Shutterstock "ramon ray"



From Black Enterprise 

Black Enterprise has developed a program called Small Business University. It is geared toward guiding small business owners to be successful and practical vendors. In this episode of Small Business University Ramon Ray, who is a marketing and technology evangelist for InfusionSoft and Small Biz Technology shares with readers the fundamental skills in social media. He helps business owners with email marketing, building their website and how to grow their following.

If you are interested in this Black Enterprise series, check out 

Skip These 9 Common Pitfalls When Starting A New Business

October 20th, 2013 - By Michelle Alerte
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Thinking of starting a business? You’ve probably stewed over the idea, written out a business plan, and begun to debate the pros and cons of a variety of decisions with people you trust. You’re headed in the right direction. But knowing that many new businesses fail within the first five years, it behooves you to keep an eye open to the common pitfalls that could lure even the best small business owner. You’re in luck! Below is a list of nine common mistakes small business owners make. Print it out, study it, and when you find yourself headed towards a trap… run!

Passion Isn’t Everything: Ebony Cochran’s New Business Is Successful Even If It’s Not In Her Dream Industry

October 8th, 2013 - By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
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Ebony Cochran_MNBiz3

Ebony Cochran is only 28 and she’s already on her third business. An entrepreneur since middle school where she sold craft string to her schoolmates, Cochran transitioned to doing taxes at 20 and earned so much she says H&R Block is taking steps to acquire her business. Now putting her stake in the multi-billion-dollar black hair industry, Cochran is handling her business a little bit different. With Pure Strands, she’s not only selling extensions, with The Pure Network, she’s working toward building a support system for female entrepreneurs. For Cochran, whose passion doesn’t lie in string, taxes or hair per se, business is about empowering people to earn independence from working for someone else. We picked her brain for advice on how we can do it for ourselves too.

MadameNoire: So many people say you have to be passionate about the business you start, but you’re not necessarily passionate about the hair business. Why start Pure Strands?

Ebony Cochran: When I was doing taxes for over eight years, a lot of my family and a lot of my friends saw me make substantial income and they all wanted me to try to help them get in on a business so they could make a substantial income. But with the income tax business, it’s not like that. It’s not like you can just take somebody and they’ll make what you make.

So I started researching certain industries to try to figure out what industry… I [could] tap into where I could put those people in a position to make an income and the hair business just struck me. I mean, it’s a billion-dollar industry.

MN: How did you go about getting the idea off the ground?

EC: I started doing a lot of research. I started ordering from lots of vendors trying to see the quality because everybody claims to have the best hair… It took a lot of time, and a lot of money, and a lot of effort to even find a great vendor. …[N]ow I’m working on a distributorship program which will allow people to pay a small fee and the fee will just cover a website, 500 business cards, and it’ll get them started on making their own income, promoting their own brands.

…[W]e’ve got a great response just from marketing with the social media, doing the street marketing with flyers and sponsoring certain events. So I think it’ll be a good thing to help people start making their own income without having to pay all the money that I had to pay to get in because we carry the inventory for them. We do the shipping and everything for them.

MN: So, your passion, in a sense, is empowering other people to start businesses.

EC: Right. I love entrepreneurship. Like, I want everybody to be entrepreneurs. …[P]eople that have jobs—like, that’s a temp job because it’s like you’re building somebody else’s dream. You’re making somebody else their millions and their thousands of dollars, you know? I always want to empower people to step out and do [their] own thing; turn [their] passion into an income.

Diddy Says “Thank God For Hip Hop” As He Presents Young Entrepreneurs Program With $250K Check

October 5th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Diddy NFTE"


If you’ve followed music over the years, you know that Sean “Diddy” Combs has taken a lot of hits on the way people “view him.” He’s not always a fan favorite. But for all the times people may have something negative to say about him, it is just as important to highlight the positive things he does with his time.

On Thursday, Diddy took time out of his busy schedule to join the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship for a day of mentoring. He spent time sharing tips on how to run a business as well as how to approach life in an entrepreneurial way.  When he was done, Diddy presented the NFTE with a check for $250,000 on behalf of Combs Enterprises, according to

The NFTE is an entrepreneurial training program for high school students, primarily for those from low income communities.  They encourage young people to stay on their educational paths and also how to recognize business opportunities and how to make them successful.

In his speech, Diddy said:

“I am honored to partner with NFTE on this initiative because I am extremely proud of the work they do every day, helping over 500,000 young people reach their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.  I believe all young people should be given the opportunity to be successful and to pursue their passions and NFTE gives all kids the tools they need to be the CEOs of their future.”

Great job, Diddy, spending not only money but time with young people who very likely look up to him. Hopefully, his words and advise will stick with them as they continue to flourish.

Seeking A Career In Public Relations? These Takeaways From Our Twitter Chat Could Help

October 4th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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via Twitter

via Twitter

Yesterday, MadameNoire Business hosted its first Twitter chat (yay!) with Tia T. Gordon, founder and CEO TTG+Partners, a PR firm specializing in issues of diversity and education. During our hour online, we discussed everything from the current state of public relations to running a small business.

Twitter chats will become a regular part of MN Biz’s features, so keep an eye peeled for notices about them when they happen. And be sure to follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter, which will also have reminders about chats and other events that MN Biz is hosting or participating in. The hashtag for our Twitter chats will be #MNBizchats.

But back to yesterday’s event. There was a great conversation happening yesterday. Here are the highlights.

Rags To Riches Baby! Most Wealthy Business Owners Are Self-Made

September 19th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Most fortunes aren’t inherited at all. In fact, 66 percent of America’s wealthiest citizens earned their own riches from scratch. Among wealthy business owners, about seven in 10 have acquired affluent status from their own self-made entrepreneurial endeavors, Fox Business reports.

Less than 10 percent of business owners, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Trust, inherited ownership of their company. A solid 78 percent of respondents claimed that they have founded or co-founded their business. Another 70 percent say they’ve accumulated a large percentage of their wealth from that business. Twenty-eight percent of respondents even admitted that they would not bequeath their business to their children. They would rather sell or close the company.

A vast majority of rich business owners revealed that motivation to start their own enterprise stemmed from refusal to work beneath someone else. Sixty-percent said “they wanted to be in the driver’s seat when it came to their future,” Fox Business adds. Nearly 70 percent believe that entrepreneurship is the best way to achieve a life of luxury.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents are quite selective who they help with their cash, willing to jump in if their adult children need them, but less keen on financially supporting their extended family members.

“Business ownership is alive and well in the U.S. economy, and new innovation is fueling entrepreneurship that knows no age limits,” says Keith Banks, president of U.S. Trust.

The study also found that generosity is a generational thing. Nearly 80 percent of Millennials want to use the success of their entrepreneurial endeavors to give back to the community, a statement only repeated by 50 percent of Gen X business owners.

This survey urveyed 711 high net worth adults with at least $3 million in assets that can be invested.

American Women Are Slipping In Business Endeavors Compared To Women Around The World

August 5th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Women in America, a study finds, have little faith in their entrepreneurial prowess. Seven countries were examined and researchers discovered that although businesswomen were a minority in each nation, women in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa were more active in business than American women, reports Entrepreneur.

Many women expressed a sense of doubt in their ability to launch their own business, according to a new survey released by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. As a result, male entrepreneurs have been consistently taking the lead in the economy. “Women report being more afraid of failure on average than their male counterparts,” adds Entrepreneur. However, the study’s author, Donna Kelley, says that these convictions come from very real challenges.

In the U.S. “studies […] show that women are less likely to receive venture capital funding,” Entrepreneur says. Kelley also points out that more men are involved high-tech careers—which boosts entrepreneurial activity — and women are less likely to engage in the field of science or engineering. Although there are fewer observable barriers preventing women from starting their own business in America, the expectation that a businesswoman will be overridden by the male-dominated industry still lurks.

Surprisingly, in contrast to American women, sub-Saharan African women showed the most confidence in their entrepreneurship skills. “Part of the higher levels of confidence in sub-Saharan Africa is because almost 60 percent of women know other women entrepreneurs,” says the story. According to Kelley, this provided the women in Zambia, Malawi, Ghana, Uganda, and Nigeria with role models to emulate.

Researchers discovered that women living in developed regions of Asia showed the least amount of confidence; only five percent of Japanese women expressed any trust in their ability to start a business. The report notes that the culture’s gender roles can contribute to this deficiency in confidence.

Some of the common factors discovered in all seven economies was that businesswomen are more likely to work directly with consumers rather than pursue “capital intensive manufacturing businesses and knowledge-intensive business services,” the survey finds.  Women in the study are unified in the belief that it’s riskier for them than it is for a man to forgo being an employee and pursue entrepreneurship.

The countries that were found to have nearly as many female entrepreneurs as there are businessmen are Panama, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, Nigeria, Mexico, and Uganda. The countries with the least amount of female businesswomen are living in developed regions of Asia, Israel, and Europe.

This study surveyed 198,000 people in 69 countries.

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