SHOPPE BLACK

Black Owned Telecom Firm Donates 500 Free Phones to Help Families in Puerto Rico

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Figgers Communication, one of the nation’s largest Black owned telecom companies and networks, has sent 500 satellite phones with unlimited calls, texts, and data to help families affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“The hurricane destroyed the entire island’s telecommunications’ network,” said Freddie Figgers, 28, founder of Figgers Communication that has designed his own phones and developed his own network. “We’re trying to do all can to help these families communicate with each other, and especially their loved ones.”

Four years ago, Figgers developed the custom-designed phone the “F1” phone that has automatic anti-texting functionality and super-fast charging.

Next month, he is releasing the F2 the company, which will be waterproof and shatterproof. Figgers Communication is currently one of the few telecoms in the country that manufactures its own phone and provides its own service.

As Figgers, who grew up to adopted parents in Quincy FL, looked at the devastation in Puerto Rico, he said he had to do something. Figgers said the SIM cards are fully activated for 90 days free of charge.

“We all need to do our part to make sure that Puerto Rico gets back on its feet.” These SIM cards and phones will be distributed out in San Juan to individual families and at San Juan Airport.

Figgers is a childhood prodigy. At age 9, Freddie Figgers took a part an old IBM personal computer five times that his father bought at a local Goodwill Store.

On the sixth time, he got it working. At age 13, he started working for the city of Quincy as a computer technician and network administrator in its NetQuincy department, setting up the city’s network and helping residents.

At age 16, Figgers started Figgers Computers, repairing computers and installing wireless area networks. By age 17, he created a cloud-based hosting network that stored data for more than 70 clients – law firms, car dealerships and dozens of other companies.

By age 18, he had created his own computer operating system. Figgers also designed a VOIP – Voice over Internet Protocol network – that transmits voice to and from the USA from more than 80 countries’ landline and mobile connections.

He achieved another milestone in 2011, when the FCC approved the company’s application to own spectrum, leading to the construction of the company’s first cellular tower.

 

What Are Your 10 Favorite Black Owned Businesses? We Want To Know!

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Hey Family!

For the past two years, Tony and I have been collecting info about Black owned businesses, not just in the U.S. but internationally. We’ve made a few informal asks but now we’re officially asking you: tell us your top ten all time favorite Black-owned businesses – anywhere around the world! We’re not asking you to complete a long survey. We tried that approach. It didn’t work.

Our first ask: Give us your TEN favorite Black owned businesses. Not the place with the horrible customer service or the spot you hope will close down because the food is so bad.

What are we looking for? Your favorite restaurant, dentist, therapist, contractor, graphic designer, florist, attorney, bed and breakfast, architect, plumber, interior designer, midwife and doula, stylist…we want to know it all!

You don’t have to give us everyone in your rolodex (but if you’d like to, we’re not going to stop you).

Our second ask: send the survey to TEN of your friends. That’s it! Our goal is that 1o00 people will complete and send this survey to ten of their friends with an ultimate goal of receiving 10,000 responses.

We’re working on something major. You’re going to love it. And you’ll thank us later.

Fill out the survey HERE.  Send this link to your friends: http://bit.ly/2hySPkN. Then stay tuned for more info.

 

Photo Credit: Terrence Jennings

Video Production: Electric Suns

Beyoncé Just Dropped Some New Ish…And This Time, I’m Not Mad.

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When Beyoncé dropped her Formation video last year, I felt some kind of way. I also had something to say. Thankfully, she later released Lemonade, a visual and sonic Pentecostal-esque experience for Black women everywhere, and was redeemed in my eyes.  In the rest of the world, she was of course, beyond fine…perfect even, my critique aside.

A few hours ago, fellow New Orleanian and renowned writer Rickey Laurentis posted this on facebook:

– New Beyonce. Not a drill. Do not run. Do not take elevators. Take the stairs, please.

While I’m no Beyhiver…I did go over to her IG page and pressed play anyway.

Beyoncé dropped her contribution to relief funds of the recent natural disasters to hit the Caribbean and Mexico (not to mention her ongoing relief efforts for hometown – Houston) by adding some lyrics to the remix of Colombia’s J Balvin and Willy William’s Mi Gente. No triggering images of flood waters. No videos of her rolling around in couture amidst shattered buildings or rubble. Just a rotating photo of herself in some pretty technicolored dress and her sultry Reggaeton lyrics on repeat.

And guess what?

I’m.

not.

mad.

at.

all.

While I’d still personally support more grassroots relief efforts as opposed to a few listed on her site, I’m appreciative of her good will and contribution.

Thanks Bey.

Why Many African-Americans Haven’t Been Outraged By Puerto Rico’s Devastation…but Should Be.

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About eight years ago, I took a trip with one of my mentors, Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, to Loiza, a small town outside of San Juan in Puerto Rico. We were there for Fiesta de Santiago Apostol de Loiza. Reggaeton superstar Tego, who’s originally from there, headlined the concert.

I remember walking down the street with my dark brown skin and mini curly ‘fro. Someone driving by in a car yelled out of the window “VIVA CELIA CRUZ!” I remembered us all being so tickled. I did, after all, very much so resemble Celia Cruz during her hey day.

While Celia was not Puerto Rican (she’s one of the most well known Cuban luminaries in history outside of Fidel Castro), and I’m not Latina, I immediately connected with that passerby’s observation of the proximity of myself, an African American women from the U.S. Black South, specifically New Orleans with the Queen of Salsa.

This was one of many examples of an immediate connection that I’ve experienced over the past 20 years of my life when I’ve come in contact with the greater Diaspora. It happened initially as a student at Howard.

It continued to occur during my travels to some of the Blackest locations in the Diaspora – Haiti, Brasil, Cuba, Suriname, Curacao, Nigeria, the Dominican Republic.

During these travels and during my work, which is primarily based on the East Coast of the States and throughout Black communities internationally, I’ve also adopted and been adopted by many Diasporan communities. Some of that extended village hails from Central and Latin America.

They make up the Latino/a/x Diaspora. Their last names are Lebron, Cruz, Acevedo, Piñeda, Alba, Vega, Roman, Clemente, Cordero, Peralta and Capote. And while Spanish, or broken Spanish is their first language spoken at home, both politically and racially, we identify in similar ways. Their family trees are as nuanced and interesting as my own.

So as Harvey and then Maria ravaged the Caribbean, rather during the days following, I was deeply concerned. Initially I was fully engrossed in the 24/hour news cycle. Then I tuned out, because, to be honest – hurricanes are triggering.

Katrina traumatized me. But because people tuned into what  happened in New Orleans and subsequently poured love, resources, empathy and support for my family and hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents, I couldn’t turn a blind eye.

Especially because I’m directly linked to “those people.” Puerto Ricans. Caribbeans. Our people.

What I’m currently thinking is: That most of Black America is disconnected from Puerto Rico. Unless you grew up in New York or some parts of Philly or Chicago, most African Americans are detached culturally and politically from Puerto Ricans.

Yes, lots of Negroes go there on vacations, and for quick getaways (I was about to go myself for a self-care vacay), to have their weddings on its beaches, or to go on bachelorette trips. However, most folks go to hotels and resorts and then go home. Meaning they’re not necessarily engaging with the people or the culture.

So the reality is, the vast majority of people in Puerto Rico are people of African descent, creolized thanks to the good ole Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade like the rest of us, a mix of indigenous Americans and enslaved Africans and a handful of Europeans.

Puerto Rican children circa 1898.

While many of them don’t identify as “Black” or maybe even as Afro-Latino, they are still in Diasporic terms, just as black as your light skin family from Louisiana, actually darker in some cases and more phenotypically African.

I’m raising this point not to say that people’s identities should determine how we extend care and concern, but that I think it’s harder to disregard a humanitarian crisis when you are in close proximity to the people suffering from dire circumstances.

Maybe because I have a plethora of Puerto Rican extended family/friends,  it hits closer to home.  Or because I’ve spent time in places outside of San Juan, like Loiza, where there was just a huge community of Black folks, and because I have friends and godfamily who have people in P.R. that they still haven’t heard from, or that they’ve heard from and hear how they are suffering (ie: can’t keep their insulin cold enough due to the electricity situation) that I feel a responsibility to do something.

Los Pleneros, El Barrio, New York City.

Who’s kneeling and who’s not kneeling and whatever fboyPrez has to say about it is conversation worthy, and to many degrees, matter.

But so does the fact that Puerto Rico, which in political terms, and reality, is a U.S. Colony, that can’t get aid from other countries, without that aid first coming here, thanks to Jones Act (that he apparently waved earlier this morning). We can’t even fathom the extent of the devastation and probably won’t for months to come.

My grandmother died, not in Katrina’s floodwaters, but two years later due to health complications including having her legs amputated, after not receiving dialysis treatment for over two weeks, in its aftermath. 

Loiza, Puerto Rico, 2015. Daniel Allende.

The world’s heart broke for the people of New Orleans and the greater Gulf South post-Katrina. Much of the 9th Ward still looks like a war torn land. And we’re a part of the U.S. mainland. Imagine had New Orleans been an island.

We’re currently a few years into the International Decade of People of African Descent as declared by the U.N. Please pay attention to what’s happening outside of our walls, our Diaspora is vast.

Black folks and people of African descent suffering anywhere, is our problem, and vice versa. Black Lives Matter Globally.

VIVA PUERTO RICO, now and forever. 

– Shantrelle P. Lewis

GET INVOLVED

There are multiple ways you can donate to efforts. Also remember, it’s not just Puerto Rico but several other Caribbean islands that have been devastated including St. Martin, the US and British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Barbuda (which is uninhabitable with 100% of its residents currently evacuated) and parts of Cuba. Whatever you do PLEASE DO NOT GIVE MONEY TO THE RED CROSS.

Even if you have a co-worker who is Puerto Rican, it’s better to put money in their hands, to send to their family members than donating to huge bureaucratic organizations that won’t put aid in the hands of the people. Additionally, if you find the need to donate clothes, PLEASE do not send your worn out, raggedy, most used clothes.

During Katrina, I was horrified by some of the items people donated. Used underwear, in some classes decades old sweaters that were in the back of the closet. The islands are tropical. Only donate something you wouldn’t mind wearing yourself, definitely something for warmer climates, and if at all possible, just donate new clothes.

Here’s a list of resources with more information about how you can get involved:

Hurricane Maria Community Recovery Fund

Los Ambulantes/Trusted Puerto Rican Relief Organizations

Flint Family in St. Martin displaced by Irma Go Fund Me  

Defend Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Fund

Further Reading

USA Today For the First Time in 300 Years, There Isn’t A Single Person Living on the Island of Barbuda

NYT: Nearly Half of Americans Don’t Know that Puerto Ricans are Americans 

NYT: Puerto Ricans on Mainland Rely on Stranger to Reach Relatives

History: Puerto Rico’s Complicated History with the US

HuffPost: Living in Gentrification as a Puerto Rican in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Listverse: 8 Atrocities Committed Against Puerto Rico by the US

12 Pieces of Advice for Hurricane Survivors

Colorlines: How to Help Residents of Puerto Rico and The U.S. Virgin Islands Recover After Hurricane Maria

Kahmune Offers Luxury Footwear For All Skin Tones

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Kahmune is the brainchild of Jamela Acheampong. The London based entrepreneur has launched a brand that aims to address the lack of diversity in the luxury footwear industry.
We wanted to find out more about more about her and her business. This is what she had to say:
Jamela Acheampong
SB: What inspired the creation of Kahmune?
 
JA: Kahmune was inspired by my own personal struggle to see myself, more particularly my skin tone, represented in the fashion industry. I spent hours searching online last year for a nude shoe that would match my dark complexion.
When you search the term “nude” it returns garments and accessories that are the same beige and tan colours and or hues, that are far from nude on my complexion.
I found it ridiculous, and slightly infuriating, that in 2016 something like this was still an issue! Why shouldn’t myself, or anyone else for that matter, be able to have access to skin tone accessories?
It was in that moment that I decided to make sure it was an issue no longer. ALL skin tones are beautiful and we all deserve to have our beauty represented in the fashion industry.
 
JA: What has been the most gratifying part of your entrepreneurial journey so far? What has been the most challenging?
 
The most gratifying part of the journey so far has been the transition towards being my own boss and making my own decisions. It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of doing and always known I wanted to do. It just feels right.
Additionally, a large part of my daily motivation has come from the response to the brand. Reading the comments, emails, and various messages from women across the globe has been incredible.
Hearing about how excited they are about Kahmune or that it’s given them more pride in their skin tone has made this journey more than worth it!
The most challenging part has been doing everything on my own! I do it all- social media, emails, production, etc and it has proved to be quite demanding. It’s also been difficult dealing with the process of manufacturing shoes in themselves.
I’ve had to change manufacturers a few times and have experienced quite a few delays in production but it’s all part of the process!
SB: Can you explain the process of finding and selecting the right manufacturer?
JA: What I’ve learned now is it’s all about finding the right fit. It took me two tries to get it right but as they say third is the charm! Naturally, the most important part of the process is finding a manufacturer that you are confident will do your product justice.
I spent a lot of time researching European manufactures and was lucky to come across a group in Italy that specializes in matching new brands with Italian factories. I corresponded with a few before I traveled out to Italy to tour the one factory I felt most confident about.
Once I had seen the level of quality of the samples they made and was confident production was ethical and fair I knew I had found the right match.
 
SB: How did you decide what to name each shoe color?
 
JA: Having been fortunate enough to have a very international upbringing I wanted to pay tribute to that in some way with the brand. To a certain degree you can attribute various skin tones to different regions of the world so I thought having each shade reflect this was the way to go.
Kumasi was a shoe-in as that is the city my family is from on both my mother and father’s sides. Enugu is dedicated to my niece and nephew whose father’s family hails from that city in Nigeria. Juba was a must because I’ve always been so appreciative of the beautiful, dark skin tones of the people of that area in South Sudan.
Rio and Goa I chose to acknowledge two areas that have an incredible amount of diversity within them. I really wanted to celebrate that.
I chose Singapore because it also has an incredible amount of diversity in it’s population and I wanted to use an Asian city because through my research I found that many women of Asian descent feel left out of the beauty and fashion conversations.
Not with Kahmune! The last few names are quite sentimental. They’re dedicated to some amazing friends I have that are from those cities and regions.
 
SB: Where do you see the company in 5 years?
 
JA: Other than world domination? Though Kahmune is, and will always be at its core a luxury womens’ footwear line I’m definitely not ruling anything out in terms of product. In 5 years, we hope to have a few flagship stores around the globe as well as the moniker as the leading retailer of skin tone garments and accessories.
The goal is to be known for our sense of community and dedication to diversity, inclusion, and representation. In 5 years Kahmune will have set the bar in terms of what it means to run a truly inclusive luxury brand in this day and age.
 
SB: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
 
JA: Don’t give up!!! If you have your heart set on a goal take the steps to achieve it. Work a bit on that goal everyday and remember that your journey is YOUR journey- don’t compare yourself to others.
Your brand is only as good as the passion and dedication you put behind it. You need to be your own number one fan. When people see how excited you are about your dreams they will be too. Don’t underestimate the importance of the basics, and appreciate all your gains – no matter how small or big.
Do your research. Build a business plan. Network, Network, Network- you’ll learn very early on, that what they say is true – your network is your net worth. Build a team who understands and shares your vision; no one man or woman is an island.

Visit their website to learn more.

-Tony Oluawatoyin Lawson (IG@thebusyafrican)

CNN Hero, Alfa Demmellash on Giving Entrepreneurs What They Need To Succeed

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In 2009, the CEO of Rising​ ​Tide Capital, Alfa Demmellash, was among a group of creative philanthropists honored by President Obama as a CNN hero.

“Alfa helps struggling mom-and-pop entrepreneurs get loans, run their businesses and improve their profit margins,” Obama told the gathering at the East Room of the White House.

“Seventy percent of their clients are single moms. All of them rely on their businesses to support their families. And so far, Rising Tide has helped 250 business owners in the state of New Jersey.”

We wanted to learn more about how and why Alfa is passionate about seeing entrepreneurs succeed. Here’s what she had to say:

SB: What​ ​inspired​ ​the​ ​creation​ ​of​ ​Rising​ ​Tide​ ​Capital?

AD: I was inspired to start RTC because of my mother who worked as a waitress during the day and made dresses at night to make ends meet.

I remember trying to get her to formalize her sewing business, but she was intimidated by the process of going to the bank to get a loan and creating a business plan.

Young Alfa and her Mother

We offer programs like the Start Something Challenge and Community Business Academy to help people, like my mother, gain the tools they need to transform their side businesses into sustainable and profitable ventures.

While I was at Harvard, I visited Rwanda and saw how critical it was for people to have hope and accessible opportunities.

When I graduated, my business partner Alex and I spent time getting to know Camden, Trenton, Newark and Jersey City, and we recognized that the entrepreneurial spirit in each community could answer the community’s own needs.

RTC, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was created out of a desire to give people the necessary skills, opportunities, and tools to solve the problems in their own community.

SB: How​ ​did​ ​your​ ​upbringing​ ​in​ ​Ethiopia​ ​influence​ ​who​ ​you​ ​are​ ​today?

AD: When you grow up as a child of a community made up of aunts and cousins and grandparents, you deeply understand how connected we are to each other, and how our success, or failure is bound together. Having such a strong and interrelated support system taught me the value of community.

SB: What​ ​are​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most​ ​common​ ​issues​ ​facing​ ​the​ ​entrepreneurs​ ​that​ ​you​ ​meet?​ ​How does​ ​your​ ​organization​ ​help​ ​address​ ​these​ ​issues?

AD: We often find that our entrepreneurs face one or more of the following issues: the lack of knowledge capital, social capital, or financial capital and we work to address each of these gaps.

Knowledge​ ​Capital: Many of the entrepreneurs we meet are talented individuals—people who know the industry in which they want to start their businesses very well. What they lack are the business skills needed to leverage their talents into a business, or knowledge capital.

Through our Community Business Academy (CBA), we offer adult learners a space to learn the fundamentals of building and growing a business.

After students graduate from the 12-week program, we create an individual action plan for each of them, taking into consideration their business goals, as well as their personal circumstances.

Social​ ​Capital: We also find that incoming entrepreneurs lack social capital, that is, a network of people who can open doors and connect them to opportunities, beyond their immediate community.

Every classroom at RTC is its own community and we are intentional about creating spaces where every ethnicity, gender, and income levels is represented.

We also leverage our own partnerships to benefit entrepreneurs by building and utilizing an extensive network of small business development service providers—from local microlenders, to business incubators and coworking spaces.

Financial​ ​Capital: Finally, we address the lack of financial capital. At some point in their journey, almost every entrepreneur will need a loan.

www.risingtidecapital.org

While we at RTC don’t lend, we do have partnerships with a number of different kinds of lenders through our Credit to Capital program, from crowdlending platforms like Kiva, to local microlenders like The Intersect Fund, GNEC, and Accion International, to partnerships with local banks and credit unions. We ensure that our entrepreneurs are ready for a loan and we connect them to the right lender.

SB: Who​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most​ ​memorable​ ​entrepreneurs​ ​that​ ​has​ ​come​ ​through​ ​your​ ​program?

AD: 1,976 entrepreneurs have graduated from the CBA, so we have a number of memorable individuals. Here are a few of the incredible people we’ve worked with:

Gustavo Estrada is providing behavioral health services to families in their native language which increases the effectiveness of the services.

Universe Konadu is empowering at-risk girls through literacy and visual and performing arts.

Pamela Roundtree is on a mission to bring nutrition and exercise to the inner-city, to reach people who are intimidated by the idea of the gym, but desperately need to be thinking about their health. You can read more of our entrepreneurs’ stories at risingtidecapital.org/stories

You can read more of our entrepreneurs’ stories at risingtidecapital.org/stories.

rising tide capital

SB: What​ ​are​ ​the​ ​keys​ ​to​ ​being​ ​a​ ​successful​ ​business​ ​owner?

AD: I think what’s essential to our success at RTC, is our focus on ongoing business planning. Taking the time to understand how your industry is changing and what opportunities are available to you is a key part of being a successful business owner. It is essential to the growth and health of your business to work on it as well as in it.

SB: What​ ​advice​ ​do​ ​you​ ​have​ ​for​ ​aspiring​ ​entrepreneurs?

AD: Building a business is just like starting at a new job. So pick a start date, give yourself a title, and write up a mini job description for yourself and for your business.

Consider questions like “How can my passion be fulfilling to someone else?” and “Who else might love this thing for the same reasons that I do?”

It’s essential to figure out why people will come to you, instead of going to someone else for a similar product. What makes you different?

Setting a price for a good or service is often very difficult for most entrepreneurs, even those who have established businesses. Just remember, it is a lot harder to raise your prices once you are in the marketplace than it is to bring them down.

rising tide

So, when in doubt always start high and offer incentives or discounts to get your initial customers in the door. Being friendly, open to critique, curious, and empathic are all qualities that are essential to your success.

If you don’t have these qualities from the start, work on them in yourself or find allies that you can learn from.

SB: Where​ ​do​ ​you​ ​see​ ​RTC​ ​five​ ​years​ ​from​ ​now?

Within the next five years, we see the build out of replication programs, and the emergence of a national community of Rising Tide Entrepreneurs.

As RTC has grown, we’ve had requests from many communities for our programs. We held off on these requests because we wanted to stabilize our model, and strategize intentionally on the best way to bring our work to more communities.

A few years ago we started working with our first-ever licensed partner in Chicago, Sunshine Enterprises, to offer our Community Business Academy and Business Acceleration Services.

They are growing rapidly and are now in three communities in Chicago. Having learned from the success of this pilot program, we are ready to license and train more partner organizations to deliver our programs in their communities.

 

-Anthony Oluwatoyin Lawson

 

Chicago Deposits $20 Million Into Its Last Black-Owned Bank

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Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers announced Monday a $20 million city deposit into Chicago’s last remaining black-owned bank, Illinois Service Federal (ISF) Savings and Loan. The deposit will help fund loans under an overhauled business plan for ISF, which is intended to strengthen its service to underserved communities in the Chicago area.

“As a lifelong Chicagoan, I know how important it is for us to keep local dollars in local communities,” Summers said in a statement. “As city treasurer, I will always look for opportunities to make prudent investments directly into our neighborhoods.”

Summers made the announcement at a press conference in the lobby of ISF’s main office, in the South Side neighborhood of Bronzeville, a few blocks from the home where Summers grew up.

The announcement comes amid the Bank Black campaign, which I first reported on last year and which renews the civil rights-era message to move deposits into black-owned or black-operated banks, in solidarity with the larger Black Lives Matter movement.

ISF was founded in 1934, during the Great Depression. At the time, African-Americans were migrating north, escaping limited economic opportunities in the South. But by the time many arrived in Northern cities, seeking jobs and opportunity, those cities were already beginning to enforce or reinforce their own form of segregation — denying home mortgages to black families and designating the neighborhoods where they lived as too risky for making loans (a practice that became known as redlining).

Black-owned banks like ISF formed in many redlined communities to serve those who other lenders left behind. To this day, according to researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, minority-owned and minority-operated banks are more likely than other banks to focus on communities of diverse ethnic and immigrant backgrounds, and within similar markets they may be lending to customers who have lower income and more credit constraints than those served by other banks.

But by focusing their services and lending to the most vulnerable communities, black-owned banks have always suffered worse than other banks when the whole economy tanks. Before the last recession, there were over 40 black-owned or black-operated banks in the U.S.; today there are only around 20. In 2013, a pair of researchers found that white-owned banks of similar size and other characteristics were 10 times more likely than black-owned banks to receive assistance from TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), the main federal bailout program for banks during the financial crisis.

Chicago’s other historic black-owned bank, Seaway Bank, could never truly recover from the crisis and Great Recession, prompting federal regulators to shut it down in January. After a brief period under the ownership of a Texas-based bank, North Carolina-based Self-Help Credit Union acquired Seaway’s deposits and assets, and the bank lives on as a division of Self-Help.

ISF was spared a similar fate thanks to the Nduom family, from Ghana, who stepped in last year with an infusion of capital and became new owners of the bank in the process. Thanks to that and an overhauled business plan that impressed federal regulators, ISF was able to move through the certification process to become a Chicago city depository, making way for Summers’ announcement Monday.

“Over 80 years ago, 13 black men with an able administrative staff of black women started this bank to provide an opportunity for the black community to gain access to home mortgages and financing to pursue their aspirations,” said ISF Chairman Papa Kwesi Nduom, in a statement. “This investment made today by Treasurer Summers provides a much-needed boost to our financial foundation.”

Source: Next City

…aaand Blavity Just Acquired Travel Noire!

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Blavity, the media and events startup focused on black millennials and black culture, has acquired travel startup Travel Noire for an undisclosed amount.

Blavity Founders: Aaron Samuels, Morgan Debaun, Jonathan Jackson, and Jeff Nelson

Travel Noire, which offers up traveling tips and guidance for black millennials, reaches over 2 million millennials a month. Next month, I’m heading to Nairobi with some TechCrunch colleagues. Thanks to Travel Noire, I now know to hit up the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an elephant orphanage located inside Nairobi National Park.

Travel Noire marks Blavity’s second acquisition of year. A few months ago, Blavity bought media platform Shadow and Act. As part of the acquisition, Travel Noire founder Zim Ugochukwu is joining Blavity and will continue to lead TravelNoire as its chief brand officer.

Travel Noire founder Zim Ugochukwu

“Travel and culture is a huge part of the black millennial experience and an important part of how we interact with the world,” Blavity co-founder and CEO Morgan DeBaun said in a statement.

“Zim has shifted the conversation about travel and showed the world that we can and should be represented wherever we are. I’m thrilled to add her vision and expertise into the Blavity ecosystem.”

Since launching in 2014, Blavity has become known for producing viral content like “21 Things Black Men Don’t Hear Often Enough” and “19 Things Little Black Girls Don’t Hear Often Enough.” Blavity currently reached over 30 million people a month via social channels.

Founded by DeBaun, Aaron Samuels, Jonathan Jackson and Jeff Nelson, Blavity ultimately aims to become a lifestyle brand with both online and offline experiences geared toward underrepresented millennials. In April, Blavity raised over $1.8 million, according to an SEC filing.

Source: TechCrunch

13 Black Women Who Were The “FIRST” To Do It

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Time Magazine recently launched “Firsts”, a celebration of women who broke ground in their fields — from the arts and politics to the world of science and the military. Check out the Black women who were recognized:

Patricia Bath is the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology and the first African-American female doctor to receive a medical patent. She invented the Laserphaco Probe for cataract treatment in 1986.

Ursula Burns, the former CEO of Xerox, was the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company.

Mo’Ne Davis First was the first girl to pitch a shutout and win a game in a Little League World Series.

Gabby Douglas is the first American gymnast to win solo and team all-around gold medals at one Olympics.

Ava DuVernay is the first Black woman to direct a film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

Carla Haden is the first woman and first African American to be Librarian of Congress.

Loretta Lynch is the first Black woman to become U.S. Attorney General.

Ilhan Omar is the first Somali-American Muslim person to become a legislator.

Issa Rae is the first Black woman to create and star in a premium cable series.

Shonda Rhimes is the first woman to create three hit shows with more than 100 episodes each.

 

Serena Williams is the first tennis player to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles in the open era.

Oprah Winfrey is the first woman to own and produce her own talk show.

Rita Dove is the first Black U.S. poet laureate.

 

See the Full list here

Sloane Stephens beats Venus Williams to reach U.S. Open final

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Sloane Stephens reached her first Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open at the expense of seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, who was hoping to play in a third major final this season.

Stephens, who sat out 11 months with a left foot stress fracture until this year’s Wimbledon, captured a 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 win in a 2-hour, 7-minute semifinal victory over Williams on Thursday night.

Stephens’ win guarantees there will be a newly minted Grand Slam champion on Saturday. She’ll face 15th seed Madison Keys in an all-American final.

 

“I have no words to describe what it took, what I’m feeling, the journey I took to get here,” said the 24-year-old Stephens, who wiped away a few tears after the match. “I have no idea (how I got here). Your guess is just as good as mine.”

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

When Williams, the 2000 and ’01 champion here, walked off the court following the match, Stephens stood up and applauded her out of the arena.

Williams was asked if it’s any consolation that the three other semifinalists have looked up to her and credit her with inspiration.

“Well, to be honest, I’m definitely here to win my matches, not for consolations. That definitely sums it up,” she said.

Stephens, who was sidelined from last year’s Olympics to Wimbledon in July has presented as a new player since her return. Since Wimbledon she reached the Toronto and Cincinnati semifinals and is now into the U.S. Open final.

Currently ranked 83rd, Stephens was ranked No. 957 only 33 days ago . Now she will move up to at least No. 22 by reaching the final.

She is the 14th unseeded player to land in a Grand Slam final in the Open era and the fourth to achieve that feat at the U.S. Open. The only unseeded player to win the U.S. Open was Kim Clijsters of Belgium in 2009.

Stephens came across as more settled at the outset of the match and raced through the first set in 24 minutes. Williams appeared nervous and uncomfortable, which accounted for 17 unforced errors and allowed Stephens to utilize all three break points offered.

With the manner in which Stephens took control of the opening set, it seemed nearly impossible that Williams could recover. But Williams should never be underestimated. She settled down to dominate the second set by playing more disciplined and patient tennis.

It was the third set, however, that produced all the drama, the kind of tennis that had the crowd not only cheering, but even offering a standing ovation or two. That final set seesawed between the two, highlighting how much was at stake in the match.

In the end, it was Stephens who was able to strike the final blow at 5-5 by breaking Williams’ serve at love in the 11th game. All she needed was one match point on serve in the 12th game to call herself a Grand Slam finalist.

“It required a lot of fight, grit,” Stephens said. “I knew if I stayed with it, played the game the best I could, I’d have a chance.I worked my tail off. And in the finals we are.”

Source: USA Today

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