The work I do is not just because I'm Black; it’s because I care about people."
What excites you most about Ureeka right now?
The ability to scale what I've been doing for years. I've been running an accelerator and subsidizing training because there are not many resources in the community. It’s great to see it come to life—Instead of helping 1,000 entrepreneurs a year, we're now helping nearly 1,000 a day. Seeing this work around wealth creation in overlooked communities at scale is incredibly fulfilling.
How are things going post-pandemic?
Ureeka is doing well. We already have 20,000 members and are cash flow positive. We're solving problems. For 1863 Ventures, we had a record year in terms of raising money and revenue generation—and have a 97 percent survival rate post-Covid. Then for Sidecar, we’re working with large institutions to create products and provide access to capital. We’re feeling good about the growth of the businesses we've been able to help.
How would you describe your long-term vision?
Creating $100 billion of new wealth by and for new majority entrepreneurs by 2030. We’ve got a way to go but have made $300 million in five years and figured out a point of scale, so I feel good about our prospects. I’m particularly energized by leveraging technology and creating new products. I believe we can de-risk entrepreneurs, invest in them and help scale their businesses. Then no matter who they are or what they look like, they'll be ready for the more traditional capital markets.
What do you believe business’ role and responsibility is in spurring social change?
The reality is business is nothing but a composition of people who've come together to pursue a mission and get paid for it. Whether they believe in the mission or not, they are part of a community. Based on the capitalist environment, this country, in particular, is driven by the success of communities. It is a triumvirate: the business, social, and public sectors all have a role to play. There's not enough money in the nonprofit or social sector to solve all of our financial problems. If we're all committed to coexisting, we have to recognize there’s a level of shared responsibility.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring social entrepreneur?
Be patient. When I first started, I thought change was a North directional pursuit. Then some macro-economic activity happened; I did a spin and went left and right. You have to be flexible and recognize this is a marathon, not a sprint. The US is yet to solve a social problem long-term. We did solve polio, but it’s back. So, the bar is low—but in a good way. What makes the US unique is we keep trying. Hopefully, this takes some of the pressure off.
It's not about perfection. It's about that incremental change and improvement over time."
At Kogod, we believe business is a force for meaningful change. What does using business as a force for meaningful change mean to you?
I think it means two things: One, businesses have the potential to create social change to the extent we’re able to leverage the public, private and social sectors. Then on an individual level, as students work for a company or start their own businesses, they can use business as a vessel for change. It’s both institutional and individual.