Browse Tag

health

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$20 Million Agriculture and Food Investment Fund Aims to Improve Black Health and Wellness

TPP Capital Holdings (TPP) is a Black owned impact fund manager and healthcare real estate development firm on a mission to change the face of Black health by investing in agribusiness, agriculture, indoor vertical farms/greenhouses, farmland development, health-focused food and beverage enterprises with Black and Brown ownership located in federally qualified opportunity zones throughout the country.

To date, TPP has commitments to provide direct investments through Fund I, including a $2M investment commitment in Vertical Harvest LC3, a Jackson, Wyoming, agri-business that has built a profitable sustainable model for urban hydroponic farms. Other commitments include a $5M equity investment in the construction and operation of a 70,000-square-foot greenhouse that will grow one million pounds of fresh produce annually. The site will be accompanied by 50 affordable units housing for farm workers.

In this interview with founders Anthony Miles and Clinton Bush, we discuss TPP’s plan to reduce food deserts, health disparities, and burdens of chronic medical conditions in the Black community. We also discuss how they can help Black entrepreneurs manufacture healthy food and beverage brands.

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Tony O. Lawson


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This Black Owned Mental Health Platform Just Raised $5 Million

Hurdle, a Black owned mental health platform,  announced yesterday that it has successfully closed a $5 million series seed financing.

Established in 2018, Hurdle is a digital mental health platform revolutionizing mental health care by providing mental health services with a focus on culturally sensitive self-care support for people of color.

black owned mental health
Kevin Dedner, Founder and CEO of Hurdle | Photo Credit: Paul Newson

According to the American Psychiatric Association, African Americans often receive poorer quality of care and lack access to culturally competent care. Only one-in-three African Americans who need mental health care receive it. Hurdle is working to break down the barriers to mental healthcare for people of color to create an equitable behavioral health service with culturally responsive care and resources.

“With depression spiking in Black and minority communities, this year is an inflection point in mental healthcare. The events of 2020 present a unique opportunity for Hurdle to create solutions that work for anyone, but most importantly, for the most underserved populations,” says Kevin Dedner, Founder and CEO of Hurdle. “With this financing, Hurdle will significantly expand its reach and be able to help corporate and payer customers cement their Diversity & Inclusion commitments by providing broader access to culturally-responsive mental health services.”

Hurdle’s suite of services includes:

  • Self-care digital apps (daily motivations, mediations, assessments);
  • Wellness workshops (managing stress, cultivating resilience, coping with grief);
  • Teletherapy (individual, couples and group therapy).

The funding will enable Hurdle to expand its leadership team and solidify its position as the gold standard for culturally sensitive teletherapy.

 

Tony O. Lawson


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Black Owned Feminine Hygiene Businesses You Should Know

The global feminine hygiene products market was worth $26 Billion in 2019.

Increasing awareness of women’s health and hygiene and the emergence of low-cost feminine hygiene products are factors that are expected to boost demand for feminine hygiene products.

Here are some Black Owned feminine hygiene businesses that you should be aware of.

Black Owned Feminine Hygiene Businesses

Moozii

The HoneyPot Co

Black Owned Feminine Hygiene

Saffron C

Black Owned Feminine Hygiene

Nene Fern Health

Sweet Cookie Wash

Black Owned Feminine Hygiene

Kushae

Flaunt Body

ConditionHer

 

Tony O. Lawson

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Black Owned Athleisure Brands You Should Know

Despite a global pandemic and its devastating effects on the retail industry, the athleisure market is having a pretty good year. Athleisure is now becoming everyday wear.

In May of this year, a J.P. Morgan survey on stimulus spending found 24% of the survey population chose athletic apparel/athleisure wear as a top-three category on which they intended to spend their stimulus checks.

Whether you are buying sweats and biker shorts to lounge around in or for your at home workouts, be sure to check out these Black owned athleisure brands.

Black Owned Athleisure Brands

Lukafit 

Black Owned Athleisure Brands

Impano Sportswear

Black Owned Athleisure Brands

CultureFit  

Black Owned Athleisure Brands

TriPow3r

Y-Fit Wear 

Pru Apparel

Black Owned Athleisure Brands

Queen Malkia

Full Court 

Kemetic Knowledge  

Damihow

EleVen 

Dope Fit Chick

Sankofa Athletics

ICONI

Solely Fit

 

Tony O. Lawson

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This Black Scientist Wants To Increase Diversity in The Biotech Industry

Since its beginnings in the 1970s, the biotech industry has grown massively and made huge advances. Unfortunately, Black people account for just three percent of this industry.

That’s why we were excited to discover LucasPye BIO, a Black owned biotechnology/biopharmaceutical large-scale manufacturing company. LucasPye BIO is one of only seven biotech companies in the U.S. with capabilities to develop and manufacture Gene/Viral-Based Drug Products.

We spoke to LucasPye BIO Founder & CEO, Tia Lyles-Williams to find out more about her company and what she has in store.

black scientist
Tia Lyles-Williams

What inspired you to start your business?

I’ve been working in the biotech/biopharma industry for 20 years. During that time I noticed three things:

1) There weren’t/aren’t many Black people in Management, Sr. Management or Executive Management Roles.

2) The financial impact of a biotech/biopharma in a community was limitless in regards to opportunities for:

  1. Generate wealth & savings for families
  2. Financially support a large percentage of the local taxes, which resulted in better schools, policing, access to better food sources
  3. Development of a strong and stable middle class community

3) Black people were not being included in human clinical trials for investigational treatment on diseases/viruses that severely impacted our communities the most. Therefore, I wanted to make changes.

More importantly, I wanted to make the biotech/biopharma industry more inclusive, diverse, and accessible to POCs from various skill and education levels.

I believe the biotech/biopharma industry will be similar to the former years of the U.S. Steel Industry; however, it will last a lot longer due to the continuous need for new and improved medical devices and biologic drug products.

Black Scientist

How, if at all, has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business plans or strategy?

The COVID-19 Pandemic, unfortunately, has had a positive impact on our business plans. It’s actually helped us to demonstrate a market need for our CDMO Services and prove our business model for:

  • Outsourcing bio-development Services via strategic partnerships to accelerate our customers’ drug products into human clinical trials & the global commercial market
  • Digitizing our business operations with cloud software, e-documentation & proprietary mobile/web applications.
  • Partnering with a commercial co-working / wet lab facility for life science start-ups & virtual biotech companies.

In fact, LucasPye BIO will be the exclusive contract development and manufacturing partner for HelaPlex – Commercial Co-Working for Life Science Start-Ups & Virtual Biotech Companies.

What trends do you foresee in the biotech industry in the near future? 

I foresee that more biotech companies will become virtual by outsourcing their manufacturing operations. This allows a significant reduction in manufacturing costs that can trickle-down to lowering the prescription drug prices for patients.

I foresee a major overhaul on the controlled documentation systems & quality management systems. The biotech industry is one of the “last” industries that insist on using paper documentation.

This is one of the primary areas that causes the extended timelines & high-costs for commercializing a drug product. I predict that the FDA is going to mandate that biotech companies digitize their controlled documentation systems & quality management systems – one that’s inclusive for global corporate collaboration within & outside their respective companies.

I also foresee that the large-scale bioprocessing equipment utilized in our manufacturing operations will become more automated and intuitive with less interface for human interaction.

How is your company uniquely positioned to capitalize on the direction the industry is moving towards? 

LucasPye BIO will be 1 of 7 companies in the U.S. with a Biosafety Level – 2 (BSL-2) and the capabilities to manufacture Gene/Viral Vector-Based Drug Products. The future of drug products to treat diseases and viruses will be Gene Vector-Based & Viral Vector-Based Drugs. We will also be strategically located in underserved communities to help rebuild their local economies.

To be specific, our headquarters will be located in/near Philadelphia, PA.

This allows us to have a more sustainable workforce, and reduce turnover by paying above market rate, financing their education goals, and lower our operations costs by requiring our Mid-Management to Executive Management roles to work from home. We are, and were, already preparing for 40% of our workforce to work from home via our Cloud Software Quality Management System (QMS), E-Documentation Platform and Proprietary Mobile/Web Apps.

The BioProcess Tracker software application allows customers to digitally monitor the manufacturing process for their drug product, receive invoicing real-time for raw materials / consumable equipment utilized in the manufacturing process, and quickly respond to items that require their review/signature in our QMS.

The BioSupply Tracker application allows our supply chain vendors to receive Real-Time Purchases Orders (POs) with payment to restock raw materials / consumable equipment in our warehouse and complete the manufacturing process on behalf of our customers on-time. It also allows more control over the quality that we require from our vendors’ products to ensure we collectively maintain business operations per FDA requirements.

Where do you see the business in 5 years? 

There is a growing trend for DNA Plasmid Drugs (aka DNA Vectors). These drugs will be the “go-to” drugs to correct genetic codes that are “paired incorrectly” or “missing a code” to treat people & animals with immune deficiencies, neurological impairments, and/or treat people with diseases/viruses that were/are considered non-treatable.

In other words, DNA Plasmid Drugs will be the new platform for vaccinations. They are manufactured utilizing bacterial cells, i.e. E.Coli. The U.S. has less than five(5) facilities with the capabilities to manufacture DNA plasmid drugs. The majority of manufacturers with these capabilities are outside the U.S., and LucasPye BIO plans to bring back these operations to the U.S. within the next 5-6 Years.

Our expansion plans are to build an additional 6-7 facilities, including strategically placing some of our new facilities in developing countries and/or underserved communities outside the U.S., i.e. Africa. We aspire to strengthen their local economy and their healthcare system alongside their education infrastructure.

To summarize, our mission is to:

  1. Lower Costs for Biotherapeutic Drugs – including prescription costs for patients.
  2. Accelerate New Drugs into the Commercial Market – including lowering the barrier of entry for new drug discoverers.
  3. Provide High-Quality & High-Pay Jobs to Underserved Communities

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

The road to entrepreneurship is long, lonely, and hard as hell. You have to be strong mentally & physically for the “hater” & “naysayer” aerosols that will be frequently sprayed at you and your entrepreneurial goals. Being an entrepreneur is not all about money.

It’s about the opportunity to make a social impact and prove to the local communities around the globe that there are some “do-gooders” that still care about their problems, interests, and aspirations.

My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to never give up on your divine purpose in life, never give into the naysayers & the haters and never compromise on your mission for your company & professional aspirations.

 

Tony O. Lawson


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Black Owned Oral Hygiene Brands You Should Know

The global oral hygiene market is projected to reach $53.3 billion by 2025 from $44.5 billion in 2019, at an annual growth rate of 3.0%.

The growth in this market is driven by rising awareness about oral hygiene, growing incidences of dental diseases, and technological advancements in oral care products.

Online purchases of products are a key trend in this market due to the emergence of eCommerce platforms and the high accessibility they offer. Here’s a list of Black 0wned oral hygiene brands you can support now and going forward.

Black Owned Oral Hygiene Brands

Feels Good to Smile 

 

Go Natural!

Natty Naturals

Illuminate Essentials

Dirt Don’t Hurt Me

Sprinjene

The Shea Shack 

 

Ivyees

Sprëtz

Natural Passion

Twiggy Fresh Bamboo Toothbrush

 

 

-Tony O. Lawson

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Black Owned Healthcare Startup Launches Platform to Treat Coronavirus Patients Remotely

With hospitals becoming overcrowded with coronavirus patients, a Black owned healthcare startup in Chicago  has developed a tech-based method to care for COVID-19 patients at home.

Chicago telehealth startup 4D Healthware announced that it launched a new COVID-19 monitoring platform, based on its original software, which allows for remote monitoring, physician and lab supported diagnosis, and at-home treatment.

Star Cunningham, Founder and CEO of 4D Healthware

By equipping patients with pulse oximeters, which measures the oxygen levels in blood, and Wi-Fi-enabled digital tablets programmed with 4D Healthware’s software, the startup can collect biometrics, like temperature, oxygenation levels and other critical stats.

black owned healthcare startup

Those metrics are then sent to 4D Heathware’s team to be evaluated. In the event a patient’s status becomes critical, 4D Healthware coordinates for the patient to visit a nearby hospital or healthcare facility.

“Healthcare is now recognizing the value of virtually caring for patients,” said Star Cunningham, the startup’s founder and CEO. “You don’t want [COVID-19 patients] to come out. What you want to do is eliminate a certain amount of foot traffic that’s coming into the healthcare system right now.”

4D Healthware says it can service up to 500,000 coronavirus patients across the U.S. Cunningham wouldn’t disclose how many patients are currently using the coronavirus platform, but said the number is increasing “exponentially each day.”

4D Healthware’s new COVID-19 platform is based on its original software, which uses health data from wearable devices, such as Fitbits or Apple Watches, to help people with chronic conditions monitor their health more effectively. Patients with COVID-19, however, need 4D’s hardware to monitor the illness as most consumer wearables cannot.

4D mainly targets Medicare patients but also accepts patients with private insurance. The startup employs 20 people, one of which is a physician, and the startup has raised more than $4 million since launching in 2012.

“We call 4D Healthware enhanced telehealth because it’s more than that,” Cunningham said. “The beauty of 4D is that long after the pandemic ends, we are a viable long-term solution for managing patients at home.”

 

Source: ChicagoInno

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Black Owned Health products brand receives investment from Magic Johnson

Naturade partners Kareem Cook and Claude Tellis, want to bring the plant-based revolution to those who need these products the most—the urban communities and food deserts that are underserved by the natural products industry. Now, Naturade is announcing the next big step in making that a reality: They have partnered with Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. and Grant Hill—NBA superstars and businessmen who will help amplify Naturade’s message and mission.

black owned natural products

“Magic Johnson has been tracking us and watching what we’ve been doing for a few years and he decided to become a significant equity owner,” says Cook.

Explaining how this fits with the company’s goals—above and beyond the bottom line—Cook says, “There are 86 million prediabetics in the country according to the American Diabetes Association. The health supplement industry is a $13 billion industry and growing. Prediabetic numbers are growing as well. How can those two things exist at the same time—how can that paradox exist?”

The problem, Cook notes, is that companies in the natural space aren’t targeting the consumers who need the products the most. “It’s because they don’t think that people who are less mindful of health will buy their products. The goal for most companies is to make money; they want to sell to the Whole Foods of the world—they want to sell to the premium stores where they can sell a product for a high price and people will buy it. And that’s a great business model but it doesn’t solve the problem.”

Cooks shares, “I grew up in the Bronx. Why should people in my family have to get on a bus and a train to get to a Whole Foods to buy these products when they should be able to go downstairs to a local store and have the same access? We’re talking about access. Magic understands that from his own business dealings. He proved people wrong so many times before, and this is an opportunity to prove people wrong again, and to make a successful business doing it.”

Speaking about the partnership, Magic Johnson said, “I’ve followed Kareem and Claude’s journey for some time and their mission aligns well with my own passion to live a healthy lifestyle. I strongly believe in exercise and being intentional about what I eat and drink. Therefore joining Naturade was an easy decision. Together we are proving that if you offer people healthy products that taste good and can positively impact their well-being, they will make the changes necessary to improve their lives.”

Also pointing to the big picture, Cook says, “You’re spreading health and education. For instance the silent killer in our community is diabetes and that’s because it’s cultural to eat a lot of products that have sugar in them. But people don’t realize there’s sugar in things like rice and bread. So the educational component is part of this business—not only just selling products that help people get healthy and lose weight…but also educating people on why they should make changes.”

On the education front, Naturade, which has been in business since 1926 and was purchased by Cook and Tellis in 2012, has a lot happening. “We go to Expo West and all the same places everyone else goes to, but we also go to the Essence Festival, where there’s 500,000 women of color, who fit right in the middle of the community that need the products and education the most. But out of the 30 to 40 companies similar to us that are at Expo West, we’re the only ones at the Essence Festival. And it’s critical that we do that—that we not only let people see us and know that we exist, but that we also educate people on what’s happening.”

Then there’s the star power: “Magic Johnson and Grant Hill and other people will be coming on board who are able to amplify the message because they have such strong followings, and they have people look up to them and respect their decisions in the way they’re living their lives.”

These educational efforts, Cook adds, show more people that they can make a positive change by cutting sugar and adding more plants into their diet. “People are aspirational…and there are some things that they feel are too far out of reach, but this is not one of them. It’s aspirational but achievable. And we’re showing that there are people that you relate to that are doing this already.”

Source: Whole Foods Magazine

 

Related: Black Owned Nutritional Supplements Company Vows To Help Black Communities Live Healthier

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Black Sculptor creates dark skin prosthetics to boost patients’ confidence

John Amanam is a 32 year old creative sculptor and former movie special effects expert from Nigeria. His knowledge of art has helped him produce hyper-realistic prosthesis of several body parts including the ears, nose, fingers, toes, and legs.

Black Sculptor
John Amanam, founder of Immortal Cosmetic Art

He was inspired by a cousin who lost several fingers in an accident. “I was thinking of ways to help him as a sculptor and thought to myself, since I’ve sculpted human beings, why can’t I mould something that can actually be used on a human body?”

John said that after his cousin’s accident he started to feel more empathy towards others who had experienced a similar loss.

“They had this feeling of discomfort whenever they were around other people. I saw it as a challenge. If I could give back or solve this need, it would go a long way to ease that emotional trauma and loss of confidence,” he added.

black scuptor
John Amanam works on a prosthetic hand

“I just want them to feel at home and be whole, aesthetically.”

Until now, most prosthetics available in Nigeria have been white, or made from materials such as wood that also look unrealistic.

“You rarely find people with black skin prosthetics,” Amanam said. “I want this need to be met within Africa. I want to reach out to Blacks all over the world as well, by making this process accessible, at an affordable rate.” The pieces are sold for at least 40,000 naira ($111).

Black Sculptor
A patient shows his new prosthetic hand

He says although there is room for improvement, his products have been medically approved for patients who are in need of body part replacements.

“I have been to many hospitals and the product has been well received because the materials used in producing are medically approved.”

According to John, he intends to open a factory in Akwa Ibom, his home state where he intends to produce the products in large quantities for local and international export.

Tony O. Lawson


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Black Inventor Creates Underwear to help patients with Catheters and Leg Bags

Brian Mohika BSN, RN (and a United States Air Force veteran) is a nurse, inventor, and founder of CathWear, an all-in-one catheter management system built into a comfortable, high-quality unisex brief.

While working as a specialist in Interventional Radiology, Brian Mohika would hear consistent complaints from patients who had drains placed inside of their organs. These patients would complain about irritated skin from leg straps constantly sliding up and down their legs.

black inventor
Brian Mohika, CEO of CathWear

To eliminate this movement, they would overtighten their leg straps, which in turn would reduce blood flood to their leg, further complicating an already bad situation. Patients also complained about inadvertently dislodging tubes while trying to undress or go to the restroom. In many instances, this would lead to a trip back to the hospital for another placement procedure.

In addition to the myriad of medical complications associated with standard leg straps, patients complained of the daily stress associated with choosing clothing that properly conceals their leg bags. Something as simple as wearing summer clothes such as shorts or dresses is simply not an option for many patients.

One day, Brian walked into a procedure room and saw a patient who had his pants down. The patient had a bag safety-pinned to his underwear. It was at this moment when Brian was inspired to create CathWear. He went home and drew the design. He then purchased a pair of underwear, some supplies and had someone build the prototype with his guidance.

Once complete, he applied for a patent. The patent was granted on July 16, 2013.

During the lengthy process of finding the right manufacturer, CathWear was able to register with the FDA, own their own Medicare code (which allows doctors to write a script for CathWear), and register as a Certified Veteran owned company.

 

 

Tony O. Lawson


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