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(Black Enterprise) — Conversations surrounding sexually transmitted illnesses and the rise in new cases of HIV often morph into great concern; but, typically, they stop there. Such wasn’t the case for one group of young men. After engaging in deep dialogue about sky-rocketing HIV/AIDS rates, MorehouseCollege grads Jason Panda, Esq and Ashanti Johnsonknew they had to do something. That “something” was b condoms, a plush prophylactic brand that focuses on bettering sexual health practices in four main target audiences: African-Americans, Latinos, 50 and over, and gay and bisexual males. The letter b was chosen by the company’s founders to give the small business some flexibility when connecting with various partners. “You can say ‘b Latina, b African American, b gay or bisexual, b the Bronx, b Harlem, b what you are,’” says Panda, 31. Adding to the brand’s allure, sleek packaging and a cool company motto: “b cool, b safe, b yourself.” The idea for the b condoms, which is distributed by PBJ Group LLC, began as a discussion Panda and Johnson had with other Morehouse graduates and friends during summer 2010. That idea blossomed into a business plan, and prompted the pair to invest $50,000 of their own money, with contributions from family and friends, into b condoms, which officially launched on December 1, 2010. Since then, the FDA-approved condom brand has taken off, and, in order to sustain the budding business, Johnson resigned from his sales and marketing position at Johnson & Johnson, with Panda soon following suit, resigning from his job as a corporate attorney.

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