Monthly Archives: March 2012

OIC of America’s “Entrepreneurial Mindset Initiative”: the Prototype for a National “Self-Reliance” Resource Pooling-Fund?

At the March 2011 launching of OIC of America’s Entrepreneurial Mindset Initiative (EMI), OICA’s chairman, Herman “Art” Taylor, reiterated the imperative for a self-reliance, we-have-to-help-ourselves approach:

“Consistent with our history, OIC of America will not wait for someone to wave a magic wand and eliminate the economic disparities for African Americans. It has not happened in the past and will not happen in the future…” (emphasis added)

The EMI has the potential to grow into a potent national resource-pooling initiative, e.g., as conceptualized in the National Venture & Excellence (EXCEL) Fund. At the very least, its performance should provide useful insights for the “Black Progress Innovators” (BPIs) who want to establish such a fund.

The rationale for the initiative, according to OICA:

“Given the proven correlation between self employment and wealth creation, OICA is launching this focused initiative to encourage more African Americans to think like and become entrepreneurs. …[EMI] will recruit individuals from economically distressed communities. In so doing, we will challenge the notion that people without means cannot thrive in business in our society. While it may be harder for them to achieve success than for those with more, these individuals will demonstrate that they, too, with help, can be business owners, acquire wealth, employ others and contribute to their communities.”

The $100 million EMI will be “perpetually funded” by an endowment to be raised in two parts: (a) the first $10 million will be raised through OIC10, a funding initiative that is soliciting one million, one-time $10 contributions nationwide; and (b) the remaining $90 million is expected to be obtained through ‘challenge grants’ from foundations and interested individuals. Continue reading

Regional Resource-Pooling Initiatives

The BlackProgress.com article, Financing Black Progress, Part 2: A Self-Reliance “Marshall Plan”: Creating a National Resource-Pooling Fund, focuses on an ambitious nationwide resource-pooling effort based on the rationale that a national fund would have the necessary muscle and scope to efficiently galvanize the black community, mobilize resources on a massive scale, and thereby have greater transformational impact than small organizations.

However, to be effective, a national fund would, of course, need to establish operations on a regional basis around the country, and resource-pooling efforts could be concentrated in specific urban areas. An example of such a regional initiative is the Chicago Community Trust’s African American Legacy (AAL), whose grant making focus is “strengthening and supporting African American families.” According to its website: Continue reading

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Self-Reliance and “Pooling Our Resources”

MLK_Chicago rally“We need to pool our resources” has been a recurring exhortation in the African American community for decades. For example, here’s Dr. Martin Luther King in a 1958 interview:

Question: Do you think Negroes are partly responsible for their plight? They don’t stick together and they don’t help each other. Negroes, for example, will walk past a Negro-owned grocery store or shoe shop to get to a white place. Instead of trying to make themselves financially independent, most Negroes are trying to keep up with the Joneses. Isn’t it time for us to stop begging and stand on our own feet? 

Dr. King: I quite agree that there is a great deal that the Negro can do to lift himself by his own bootstraps. Well has it been said by one that Negroes too often buy what they want and beg for what they need. Negroes must learn to practice systematic saving. They must also pool their economic resources through various cooperative enterprises. Such agencies as credit unions, savings and loan associations, and finance companies are needed in every Negro community. All of these are things that would serve to lift the economic level of the Negro which would in turn give him greater purchasing power. This increased purchasing power will inevitably make for better housing, better health standards, and for better educational standards.

From: “Advice for Living,” The King Papers Project, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University – http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/primarydocuments/Vol4/Mar-1958_AdviceForLiving.pdf

Do You Know a “Black Progress Innovator” (BPI)?

Excerpt from: Financing Black Progress, Part 2: A Self-Reliance “Marshall Plan”: Creating a National Resource-Pooling Fund:

 “…Thus, to overcome the barrier of prospective investors’ skepticism and distrust as to whether their contributions will be well-utilized, a nonpartisan and nonideological (or perhaps centrist) organization that is sponsored and managed by highly accomplished and reputable people, and is unencumbered by ideological and political baggage, would be best able to convince large numbers of African Americans to invest in the [resource-pooling] EXCEL Fund.

Clearly, a group of talented, motivated, and dedicated entrepreneurial visionaries who have strong credibility and proven records of accomplishment, and who engender trust and confidence, would be able to generate interest and enthusiasm among the black population and jump-start/run such a fund.

Call them the “Black Progress Innovators” (BPIs). And, of course, they exist in large numbers.

A few BPIs may be well-off enough to pool sufficient funds to jump-start the Fund all by themselves. However, most are more likely to have limited personal wealth. Such BPIs would pool whatever limited amounts of their own they can afford and, perhaps with supplementary contributions from other individuals and/or foundations, obtain the seed money for financing the initial groundwork required to get the organization started. They would prepare a credible and compelling business plan that spells out realistic goals and how the Fund will work to achieve them. Then, because they have unblemished reputations and strong records of achievement and demonstrated competence, they would be able to convince as few as five prominent and accomplished public figures to lend their credibility, prestige, and imprimatur to the effort…”

Know a few BPIs? Let us know!

For more on how “Black Progress Innovators” can create an EXCEL Fund or similar initiatives, see: Financing Black Progress, Part 2: A Self-Reliance “Marshall Plan”: Creating a National Resource-Pooling Fund

Wealthy African Americans Can Jump-Start Initiatives to Transform Distressed Communities Nationwide

In August 2011, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and philanthropist George Soros announced that their respective foundations will each contribute $30 million to a $127.5 million Young Men’s Initiative to “tackle the broad disparities slowing the advancement of black and Latino young men” in the city, by addressing the problems of education, poverty, health, unemployment, and incarceration.

An obvious question is whether, given the prevalence of these problems in many cities, the Bloomberg-Soros initiative can be replicated across the country, as Mayor Bloomberg hopes.

According to Politicker.com, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) “hopes President Obama takes a lesson” from Mayor Bloomberg:

“I think what the mayor has done is what the nation is going to have to do…This has to be a national policy.” [Rangel Wants the Nation to Follow Bloomberg]

Leaving aside how exactly the initiative can be translated into national policy, with respect to replication, few, if any, other cities have philanthropic-minded billionaires like Bloomberg and Soros who are similarly motivated and willing to put up substantial amounts to jump-start initiatives that address the problems of minority youth.

However, it does not have to happen on as large a scale as New York City’s–there are variants of the approach that are feasible for most other cities. Rather than wait for other Bloombergs and Soroses and/or the government, which would most likely be futile, one way is for a few wealthy people in an urban area to pool their funds on a more modest scale to jump-start an initiative. This could conceivably grow over time into a multimillion dollar effort through contributions by others, including people of more modest means who are similarly motivated. Continue reading

Black Philanthropy and the Creation of a Transformational National Resource-Pooling Fund

An obvious question naturally arises with respect to the feasibility of a large-scale national resource-pooling effort: Will a large enough number of blacks contribute significant amounts to make the fund sizable enough to have the desired transformational impact?

The BlackProgress.com article, Financing Black Progress, Part 2: A Self-Reliance “Marshall Plan”: Creating a National Resource-Pooling Fund, optimistically asserts:

“[T]here is strong reason to believe that there is a significant proportion of African Americans that constitutes a large enough base that would be willing to make at least modest contributions to jump-start the Fund and ensure its success. There is a strong tradition and long history of philanthropy and “giving back” in the black community, such as financial contributions to churches, charity and community organizations, etc. Of course, a crucial prerequisite is that potential investors must be confident that the Fund has the potential to successfully address the plight of those, especially children, who, sadly, remain trapped in distressed communities without much hope.” 

The following excerpts (emphases added) from various sources support this assertion: Continue reading

Financing Black Progress: On a Marshall Plan for the “Abandoned,” Self-Reliance, and “Pooling Our Resources” Via a Transformational National Fund

In his book, Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America, Washington Post columnist and MSNBC commentator Eugene Robinson (winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary) exhorts that “our most urgent priority should be an all-out assault on the stubborn, self-perpetuating poverty and dysfunction” of the segment of Black America he dubs the “large, Abandoned minority with less hope of escaping poverty and dysfunction than at any time since Reconstruction’s crushing end.”

Of course, approaches and strategies for addressing this challenge must span several interrelated areas: financing (public and private), entrepreneurship, wealth-building, job creation, education, job training, politics and policy, racial disparities, societal and cultural trends, etc.

Robinson proposes in his book a publicly financed “Marshall Plan for the Abandoned” (MPA) that would involve “massive intervention in education, public safety, health, and other aspects of life, with the aim being to arrest the downward spiral.”

Even at the time he proposed it – the book was published in October 2010 when the political environment was relatively less toxic (before the November 2010 elections, the subsequent budget and debt ceiling debacles, and the nasty and racially charged political environment that ensued thereafter) – Robinson acknowledged that the MPA “will be expensive, and politically it will be a hard sell.” Nonetheless, he argued then that the MPA could be politically feasible: Continue reading