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6 mins read

Derek Green: Running for Mayor with a Vision for a Public Bank in Philadelphia

Derek Green is a candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia in 2023. He is also a former attorney and city council member with a strong background in public service and experience tackling complex issues in the city.

In this interview, he shares his inspiration for getting into politics, and his plans for the city, including his push for a public bank.

Derek Green
Derek Green, candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia

What inspired you to get into politics? 

My mother spent over 30 years as a teacher in Philadelphia Public Schools and my father worked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, so public service was something that was instilled in me from a young age.

As I got older, my work as an Attorney in the Law Department and District Attorney’s Office were formative experiences that put me in the middle of some of the trickiest issues our community faces.

When I look back on it all, I think politics was always something that caught my interest, but it was the calling that I later felt to be involved in governing and being a changemaker that made me want to take the leap into it all. 

Why have you decided to run for Mayor of Philadelphia? 

I was born in Philadelphia and our community has seen its fair share of struggles, but I cannot recall a time where there was so much uncertainty and angst as there seems to be at the current moment. I decided to run for Mayor because I know that Philadelphians share my belief that we expect more from our city and deserve better.

I’ve done a lot of work in the spirit of that sentiment during my time on the City Council, but change only comes when the person at the top–our Mayor–is with the program and is driven to buck the status quo and deliver for the community. I don’t feel like we have any time to lose, so I decided to get into the race as a result of that. 

What issues are you most passionate about? 

The issues that have always fascinated me the most are the most complicated ones. I think one of the issues that has been problematic around the country, and certainly here in Philadelphia, has been housing. It’s a multifaceted issue that touches on other concerns we see around homelessness, addiction, crime, education, and mental health.

There is no one solution that is going to alleviate all of these pressure points, so I think we need to be thinking outside of the box in order to address them individually. That’s the kind of approach I have taken on the Council, where I have advocated for single room occupancy (SRO) housing and have worked to champion our neighborhoods’ interests without inhibiting development around the city. 

What is the inspiration behind your push for Philadelphia to have a public bank? 

As a former small business lender with Meridian Bank in North Philadelphia, I saw the impact of decades of redlining and other forms of discrimination on this community and other Black and Brown neighborhoods in our City.

Through these discriminatory policies and practices, small businesses are not able to grow and poverty has grown and has been a persistent problem holding back the growth and future of Philadelphia. By creating a public bank, we can enable these businesses to get access to credit so that they can grow and create jobs and help to reduce poverty in our City.

Further, a public bank can also help to address our public safety crisis. One of the best ways to reduce crime is to give someone a job and small businesses are the best job creators. Through a public bank, small businesses will have better access to credit, create more jobs, provide more income for citizens, and make Philadelphia a safer city.

If you could change one aspect of American politics, what would it be and why? 

During my time on the City Council, I have been outspoken on campaign finance reform. It’s something that has a profound impact on our politics and, oftentimes, has negative consequences on our process of governing.

We are seeing some of the negative effects of our current campaign finance laws in the mayoral race where there has already been millions of dollars thrown at certain candidates. I think the gross amount of money that is infused into these races takes away from the discourse on issues and that’s something that only hurts the voters.

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4 mins read

4 Reasons Why Mobile Home Parks are Recession-Resistant Investments

Mobile home parks (MHPs) are frequently associated with a variety of unfavorable perceptions and the idea that they are unattractive places to live.

Many people do not realize that some of the richest people in the world have been investing in MHPs for years. One reason is that this asset class can produce exceptional returns even in the worst economic circumstances.

Here are five reasons why mobile home park investments are recession- and inflation-resistant.

1. Mobile home parks are the most affordable housing.

During a recession, it is natural for individuals to seek out the most affordable ways to live. Mobile home parks experience increased demand during economic downturns because they are the most affordable housing option.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, manufactured homes can cost half as much per square foot to construct as site-built homes. Census data. A manufactured home costs approximately $70,600 on average, compared to $286,000 for a single-family site-built home, excluding land costs.

In many parts of the country, the monthly rent for a manufactured home with land in a land-lease community averages between $844 and $935.

2. Residents own their homes and rarely move.

Affordability attracts residents, but ownership of a mobile home ensures their long-term presence. This resident ownership is the most distinctive characteristic of MHPs and a little-known reason for their stability throughout all market cycles.

Residents pay monthly rent for the lot on which their home sits, but because they own their homes, they are also responsible for all ongoing repairs and maintenance.

As homeowners, residents have ownership pride and a vested interest in staying at the MHP, resulting in their rare relocation. It is not uncommon for residents to reside in the same park for an average of 15 years, and some residents live their entire lives in the same park.

 3. Multiple Income Streams

In multifamily buildings, rent is the only source of income. When you own a mobile home park, there are multiple ways to generate income. You can generate income by renting out space in your park. You can also purchase multiple mobile home units and rent them out. Additionally, you can rent out additional garage spaces and even issue master leases if you so choose.

4. Supply is Restricted and Declining

It is very difficult to construct new mobile home parks in desirable locations. As the majority of MHPs were built in the 1960s and 1970s, most cities’ zoning regulations prohibit the construction of new parks. Additionally, MHPs are frequently targeted by developers who want to convert them into more expensive housing options, such as multifamily apartments.

Estimates indicate that the national supply of Mobile Home Parks is decreasing annually, which, when combined with rising demand, creates an extremely favorable investment structure for the long term.

Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

Why The Car Wash Industry Is Becoming Increasingly Attractive To Investors

Up until about three years ago, the car wash industry wasn’t particularly appealing to investors. Private equity firms owned approximately 1% of the nation’s 65,000 total car washes and 2% of the nation’s roughly 17,000 conveyor-style car washes as of June 2019, according to data from one of the industry’s specialized brokerages, New York-based Car Wash Advisory LLC.

In the next five years, some industry advisers expect that to change.

“We’re nearing the basket tipping point, but there is still a ton of runway to go,” BlackArch Partners LP managing director John Conklin said. “If I think about car wash operators with some sort of private equity backing in this space five or so years ago, I’d say there were no more than 10. Now I’d say there’s probably 50.”

Car washes were for a long time primarily a cash-heavy, labor-intensive model. Previously, the focus was on full-service car washes, where a driver would wait 45 minutes to have their car washed and detailed.

Advances in technology have transformed once-old school car washes into scalable businesses. New sales and marketing models like monthly memberships create recurring revenue for car washes and allow them to build a brand.

It is not unheard of for a single location to have 5,000 subscribers, and when you do the math, even at a lower cost package of $20 per month, that is $1.2 million in guaranteed revenue annually.

This new model increases revenue consistency and decreases the need for on-site staff. This is exactly the type of business investors salivate over.

They are interested in car wash businesses that own express washes, also known as tunnel washes and conveyor washes. These locations are nearly fully automated, require minimal labor, and utilize conveyor or belt equipment to transport vehicles through the car-washing process.

According to bankers participating in the acquisitions, investors are now paying high sums for regional chains, as much as 18-to-20 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. This is a significant increase from previous years.

According to Grand View Research Inc., the express car wash industry has a current market size of over $11 billion and is anticipated to increase at a CAGR of 4.0 percent to 4.8 percent through 2028.

In the United States, where more than 72% of drivers utilize professional car wash services on average 13 times annually, conveyor car washes routinely generate the highest profits in the industry.

Demand is outpacing the supply. Even in the face of inflation and rising gas prices, its believed that the satisfaction customers feel from keeping their cars clean combined with the relative affordability of the service has created a strong opportunity for growth.

However, as a result of rising prices for labor, chemicals, and equipment, the sustainability of the business model for car washes is being put to the test by high inflation.

Some investors are concerned that customers would stop washing their vehicles if the economy experiences a downturn, despite the fact that the car-washing sector likes to promote the fact that it is resilient to economic downturns.

“Car washes went from not being on the private equity radar to being at the forefront for nearly every firm,” says Geoffrey Jervis, co-founder, and CEO of Mint Eco Car Wash. “They all want to be in the industry in some way, which means there are billions of dollars flowing into this space right now.”

Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

Sextech: The $37 Billion Sexual Wellness & Education Industry That No One is Talking About

The sex technology or sextech industry has grown rapidly in recent years, with a lot more growth predicted in coming years.

According to Statista, the sexual wellness market was valued at $26 billion in 2017 and is forecasted to reach about $37.2 billion by 2023.

The sextech market does not gain as much attention as other tech sectors such as fintech, robotics, AI, etc. This is most likely due to the taboo and stigma attached to the term.

Let’s find out how the sextech industry is revolutionizing sexual and wellness education and experience.

What Is Sextech?

Wikipedia describes sextech as “Sex technology is a technology and technology-driven ventures that are designed to enhance, innovate, and disrupt human sexuality or the human sexual experience.”

In simpler terms, sex technology is more than just sex robots. Entrepreneurs are coming up with brilliant and innovative ideas to apply sextech in sexual education, spreading awareness about good sexual practices.

Information about attitudes and sexual wellness is being made mainstream and accessible through this, too. There are quite a few smart ventures coming along to make that happen. 

Why Is Sextech Booming?

The sexual wellness market is booming at a rapid pace. According to the Sexual Wellness Market – Global Outlook & Forecast 2021-2026, the market is expected to reach USD 45.05 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 7.83%. This report highlights the following factors to be the main contributors to the market development

  • Increased digital marketplace penetration
  • Increasing usage of dating applications in the APAC region
  • Growth promoted by sexual wellness festivals, trade shows, and expos
  • Increase in government initiatives to distribute free contraceptives

These are not the only reasons behind the growth of the industry. Millennials and Gen Z are much more open to sexual conversations and preferences. They have indeed grown up with pornography as the primary source of sexual education, but they are much more open to exploring new avenues and prioritizing sexual wellness.

Industry Trends

Sexual Wellness

One of the most promising areas the sextech industry is opening is sexual wellness as a lifestyle. Quite a few prominent names are taking this avenue.

Sexual Education & Good Practice Cultivation

Millennials and Gen Z rarely had healthy sexual education alternatives other than porn because there were sexual education initiatives in schools or conversations by adults around them, albeit nascent. Cindy Gallop, founder and CEO of MakeLoveNotPorn took a brilliant initiative to mainstream content to promote consent, good sexual values, and attitudes.

Sexual Experience

The sextech industry is also promoting the option to explore more ways to enhance the sexual experience for everyone, including people with disabilities. 

Sexual technology is providing a lot of options for better accessibility to real-world sexual education and sexual wellness products or services as well as information about good sexual practices, and behaviors.

The industry is finding an increasingly large consumer base. Investors are not as hesitant about investing in this sector. Therefore, the sector is picking up pace and is expected to expand rapidly.

3 mins read

6 Ways Digital Consumer Behavior is Changing in 2022

A digital consumer may be defined as someone using technology to look for and purchase products and services on the internet. Digital consumer behavior is anything that a person does online.

As the needs of these consumers evolve, brands are trying to meet the growing expectations.

This article explores the six consumer behavior trends expected to reshape commerce the most in the year ahead.

1. Sustainability

Globally, 60% of consumers consider sustainability an important purchase criterion. This figure in the US is slightly higher than the global average, at 61%. Consumers are looking for environmentally friendly alternatives when purchasing, increasing the demand for sustainable products. Consumers also see themselves as change agents, implying the need for companies to adapt to this growing trend.

2. Fast Delivery

Convenience plays a significant role in consumer purchasing decisions—the greater the convenience, the higher the demand for the brand. Most consumers make instant online purchases and prefer to receive their products the same day rather than waiting. According to statistics, 49% of shoppers say that same-day delivery makes them more likely to shop online.

3. Product Personalization

Consumers now view personalization as the standard for engagement. Approximately 71% of consumers expect businesses to provide personalized interactions, and 76% are irritated when this does not happen. Consumers expect brands to send them customized emails and messages, which increases their trust in the brand. Research has found that companies that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenue from those activities than average players.

4. Human Touch

85% of the marketers say a human touch is needed in addition to technology for a positive consumer experience. Consumers readily purchase products from brands with which they are intimately acquainted. People nowadays are less likely to purchase products that are solely focused on selling them. They seek an emotional connection and relation with a brand that understands their needs.

5. Inclusivity

Almost two-thirds of consumers are at least somewhat likely to purchase a product immediately after seeing it advertised if the brand embodies diversity and inclusion. People look for brands that accept them, especially in today’s world, where people identify themselves in unique ways. Companies seeking to increase brand loyalty must prioritize diversity and inclusion in their marketing strategy in order to build trust and respect with their customer base.

6. Metaverse Shopping

Virtual commerce technologies have the potential to take online shopping to the next level. These changes started with the use of augmented and virtual realities but are now extending to the metaverse. These advancements could add more dimension to the online experience, including re-creating elements of the physical world.

Tony O. Lawson

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6 mins read

How to Capitalize on the Skilled Trade Shortage

Skilled trades have become an excellent alternative to regular degree jobs. However, the skilled trades industry is proving to be one of the hardest hit by worker scarcity.

As labor markets strive to rebound from the impacts of the pandemic, a talent shortage of historical scale has catalyzed. 75% of companies have reported talent shortages and difficulty hiring – a 16-year high.

The skilled trade shortage is a major concern with employers struggling to recruit, train and retain qualified workers within several industries including manufacturing and construction.

A 2018 report found that skilled trade positions such as mechanics, electricians, welders, pipe fitters, and carpenters were found to be the hardest roles to fill globally and in the US for the 6th year in a row.

There are several factors that have contributed to this.

The Great Recession

The construction industry took a huge hit during the Great Recession. The number of construction firms fell by nearly 150,000 between 2007 and 2013 and over 2.3 million jobs were lost due to layoffs, early retirement, and workers leaving for greener pastures.

Of the jobs lost during this recession, only 600,000 have returned, according to Rob Dietz, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Economics and Housing Policy for the National Association of Home Builders.

As many as 32% of billion-dollar manufacturers estimate they’ll lose $100m+ over the next ~5 years as Baby Boomers put down their tools.

Aging Skilled Workers

Baby Boomers are saying goodbye to their jobs in construction, manufacturing and engineering, and younger generations are looking for work outside of those industries.

The median age of a construction worker right now is more than 40 years old. The long-term problem is identifying the next generation of construction workers.

By one estimate, for every skilled worker coming into the workforce, there are five who retire. Even new workers are aging, according to Bill Irwin, executive director of Carpenters International Training Fund, the average age of a carpentry apprentice is 27. The ideal age is 19.

Capitalizing on the skilled trade shortage

Whether you are in the market to buy a business or start your own, skilled trades may be a good place to look.

Pandemic Inspired niches

Even though lockdown restrictions have eased, many continue to work remotely and are using this time to make improvements to their homes. As a result, tradespeople across many industries have reported boosted revenues and high demand for their services.

Creating Office Spaces – Basement and loft conversions are becoming popular and are used to create new office and home working areas. Garden rooms, orangeries, and conservatories are also seeing a spike in popularity.

Outdoor Spaces – Landscapers, gardeners, and tree surgeons have experienced a surge in business.  Property owners are building new patios, decking, and removing unwanted trees in order to improve their outdoor space.

Soundproofing –  People are looking to soundproof offices for a quieter and less disruptive working from home environment. Those who are homeschooling children or have little ones around all day are looking to soundproof children’s areas.

Tech savvy tradespeople

In a recent survey, it was revealed that one in five tradespeople are concerned that the way they are currently working is outdated and 10 percent admitted that they barely use any technology as part of their daily work.

However, tradespeople who have been working in the industry for less than 2 years are reportedly more comfortable with using technology. This suggests that in years to come, they will be more likely to use tech solutions to solve some of their biggest challenges.

This creates opportunities for entrepreneurs to build products and services for tech-savvy tradespeople.

This group has expressed that time-saving and money making are their main motivation to adopt new tech. They reportedly use tech to:

  • Browse merchant/manufacturers’ websites (66%)
  • Purchase products (61%)
  • Complete finances (40%)
  • Find online training/webinars (34%)

Training Platforms

With an estimated 31m skilled trade positions that will be left vacant in the US by the end of this year thanks to Baby Boomer retirements, the opportunity is ripe to provide training platforms, materials, and content to help fill the gap stateside.

Mentor matching

There is also an opportunity to create an apprentice/mentor matching platform that helps aspiring tradespeople connect with established mentors in the industry. This could function as a standalone service or as part of a larger trade school training offering.


Tony O. Lawson

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3 mins read

Top 5 AI Robotics Trends in 2022

We live in a time where technology is moving faster than we could have imagined. One such popular breakthrough has been artificial intelligence. The AI Robotics market is expected to grow from USD 6.9 billion in 2021 to USD 35.3 billion by 2026.

As technology has advanced, more and more technological developments have been implemented in this field. A lot of efforts are being put into making artificial intelligence robots safe, friendly, and efficient, from increasing functionalities to improving security.

Keep reading to learn more about the trends in AI Robotics in 2022.

1. AI-Powered Robotics and RPA

RPA improves quality control, lowers costs, and boosts efficiency, among other benefits. The adoption of RPA is growing exponentially in the 2020s. Integrating AI in robots and RPA will allow us to automate many processes that humans currently handle, thus saving time and resources on tasks that machines can perform. AI is the ideal complement to RPA, allowing for more accurate and efficient automation.

2. Rise of Cobots

Cobots are collaborative robots that are low-cost, safe, and easy to deploy. These are intended to collaborate with humans in businesses to combine the strengths of human employees and robots. Many industries have been adopting cobots to lower their production costs while improving the quality of their products.

3. Robotics in Healthcare

The healthcare industry is also taking advantage of the benefits of AI and robotics. Robotic devices that perform surgeries are being used to conduct complex operations. These machines can help surgeons work more efficiently, allowing them to spend less time on each patient. They can also assist with rehabilitation after an injury or illness by monitoring progress through exercise programs.

4. Delivery Robots

The era of delivery robots has been on the rise, with increased demand for them in the retail and food and beverage industries. The global delivery robots market is expected to grow at a higher CAGR of 31.3% from 2022 to 2030. The reduction of delivery costs in last-mile deliveries and increased venture funding are key drivers of growth in this market.

5. Smart Factories

As robots become more intelligent, manufacturing and distribution businesses have become smarter. Industrial robots and automated solutions are assisting businesses with assembly lines more efficiently. When performing repetitive tasks, industrial robots provide manufacturers with greater consistency and quality.

Artificial intelligence is changing the way people interact with computers and machines. As we move towards a more digital world, robotics will play an important role in our lives.

AI is a game-changer in many industries and shows no signs of slowing down.


Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

5 Global Trends Affecting the Fashion Industry

Fashion trends continue to evolve and change daily. A major key to being successful in the fashion industry is to identify these trends and act on them before your competitors.

However, many fashion companies find it difficult to do this since they may not have a good understanding of the global trends affecting their industry.

The revenue of the global apparel market for 2021 was estimated to be around 1.5 trillion USD, and it was expected to rise to about 2 trillion by 2026. The industry is quickly moving towards growth while these trends are still evolving. If you want to learn more about the global trends that are affecting the fashion industry right now, keep reading!

1. Sustainability

67% of consumers consider sustainable materials to be a factor in purchasing a fashion item. Sustainability is a significant trend in the fashion industry, and it’s not going away anytime soon. The popularity of sustainable clothing has been on the rise for years, but now more than ever, people prioritize this type of clothing.

Consumers seem to prefer organic fabrics made without harsh chemicals or pesticides that can pollute our landfills or bodies when worn by humans over time. They’re also great for sensitive skin types because they’re free from synthetic dyes in many conventional fabrics (like polyester).

2. Inclusivity

Inclusivity is good for business. A more diverse mindset creates better products, which makes the brand more competitive in the marketplace. As we’re seeing with the fashion industry, it attracts a more extensive customer base that might otherwise be overlooked or ignored.

There is a huge shift toward inclusivity, particularly concerning body types. Brands are realizing that their customers want more than just one kind of model—and they’re responding by making room for all kinds of bodies and identities.

3. Influencer Culture

Influencer culture is still a powerful tool for brands to reach consumers. Influencers help reach new markets and find new fans, and as the influencer economy continues to grow, we’re seeing more and more brands getting involved.

Consumers want to know what they’re buying is authentic—and they’re increasingly turning toward influencers who can tell them via their personal channels like Instagram.

4. Retailers are Going Digital

Customers are shopping online now more than ever before. And with good reason: online shopping is convenient, cheaper, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible. So, it’s no wonder that many retailers are focusing on their web presence first when it comes to marketing efforts.

5. Resale Culture

According to a survey, there were 52.6 million total clothing resellers in 2020, primarily online in the US. Both resale sites and rental platforms have emerged as a sustainable alternative to fast, disposable fashion. Consumers are getting more comfortable with the idea of owning less and paying for temporary access to items they need instead of buying them outright.

The fashion industry is changing fast, and brands that don’t keep up with these trends will lose out. To remain competitive, they must embrace sustainability, digital-first retailing, and smarter consumers who want instant gratification and inclusivity of all body types.

1 min read

Nigerian Billionaire, Tony Elumelu announces the 2nd Round of his $100m Entrepreneurship Programme

Last year, Tony Elumelu, a philanthropist and one of Africa’s most successful businessmen, announced the creation of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) for emerging African entrepreneurs. The goal of the program is to help up to 10,000 African entrepreneurs develop their ideas into sustainable businesses.


In 2015, TEEP empowered 1,000 African entrepreneurs, selected from over 20,000 applicants, with start-up investment, active mentoring, business training, an entrepreneurship boot camp and regional networking across Africa.


The foundation invested a total of $4,860,000, including $1,405,000 in agriculture; $410,000 in education and training; and $365,000 in manufacturing.  The program funded start-ups across a further 20 industries, all based in Africa.

Mr. Elumelu believes that the initiative will enable African entrepreneurs transform the continent. “In 2015 the African entrepreneur will emerge on to the global stage, as a new generation shows the world what those of us doing business in Africa have long known: that our continent is home to some of the most exciting and innovative entrepreneurial talent.”



TEEP opens for entries at 00:00am West African Time on 1st January 2016 and will accept applications until midnight WAT on March 1st, 2016.  To be eligible, entrepreneurs must complete the online application form with questions on their background, experience and business idea, plans for growth and proposed pan-African impact. Further guidance and application procedures can be found on the online portal.