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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Be nimble!

"Tasha Jones is a rare and wonderful artist that strikes a balance in a world so often lopsided. She has the soul of a Nikki Giovanni draped in the Haute Couture fashions of a runway model. Jones is a student of life and a teacher of lessons. On stage, she tells the story of her life and, in doing so, tells the story of all women, a story of love, loss, and life. She offers a perspective, poignancy, and insight in her writing that allows men to see themselves through her work and women to see themselves in her work. She proves herself to be simultaneously what women are and what they aspire to be. Once you've experienced her for yourself, you will feel better, wiser, and are enriched for it." — Jon Goode

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Psst! “Keep this between me and you; we are building in the cloud, so they cannot burn it down.” These words stood erect in eardrums, and as they continue to reverberate, one hopes you hear the call from Jeff Williams, co-founder of the Be Nimble Foundation. He and co-founder Kelli Jones lead an ecosystem of developers that focuses on closing the racial wealth gap through technology careers and entrepreneurship. A news article published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in April 2016 helped incubate the Be Nimble’ mission and goal. WSJ article author, Kate Davidson, reported, “It would take two hundred and twenty-eight years for African Americans to accumulate the same amount of wealth whites have now if current policies remain in place.” The analysis was an extension of the Corporation for Enterprise Development and Institute for Policy Studies. Since the initial publish date, there have been major changes/shifts in policy, some reminiscent of the entrenched disparities of the American society and economy that, at times, have been facilitated by the federal government to ensure a weak Black Business infrastructure. Be Nimble seeks to dismantle the centuries of injustice and decades of disinvestment in the Black communities that have traditionally undermined the American promise of equal opportunity.

Two hundred and twenty-eight years for Black Americans to stockpile white wealth saturated thoughts and the conversation; it prompted the recollection of the rise of the automobile industry, factory employment that provided on-the-job skill training, and how the Black Middle Class was over-indexed by the impact of the fall of those same industries that once offered a six-figure lifestyle. “The catch-up” is not a competition per se but an acknowledgment that America is not a post-racial society, as some would have you believe. Pulitzer Prize winner Leonard Pitts Jr. once said, “There’s a word for those who believe race is not a significant factor in white success: delusional.”

With the recent Supreme Court changes in policy, one wonders why tech? Williams exclaimed, “Technology, the digital economy is the future.” Deeper, he emphasized how cutting-edge the Black Planet social media network was in its heyday and faulted the educational system for the missed opportunity to advance technology in education earlier. There is an unspoken fear surrounding STEM, and Williams believes taking a DEEP DIVE into technology can lead to a more liberated culture of people. He and Jones have identified the gaps within the system and want to ensure entrepreneurs of color have access to the capital to fund the future and a path around or through double negative bias.

Proof of action began with the pitch contest during the Be Nimble Black Innovation Week (June 13-June 18). Black and Latinx business owners from Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana shared their dreams with an interested crowd. By the week’s end, Be Nimble, and the Nile Capital Fund had directed companies toward capital or supplied over $55,000 in seed support. The Nile Capital Fund (in collaboration with Cummins Inc.) has given over $700,000 in cash, grants, or revenue-based loans to date. Within the framework, Be Nimble has also extended Black dollar circulation with at least 7-10 rotations within “the community” in preparation for the Garden Party fundraiser, contributing to its mission and vision of building Black wealth.

The beauty of the BE NIMBLE foundation is its deliberate foci surrounding making lasting change by first holding itself accountable to create or expose opportunities for “community” companies within the ecosystem. Deeper, there is a conviction to catalyze fundamental change while being authentic to self and culture (without codeswitching as an ideology).

Be Nimble, adhere to the definition, and be quick to comprehend, snappy, light in movement or action, and agile. Or better yet, rely on the words of Erykah Badu, and pack light because change is here, and the cloud is waiting on you; you the young, you the old, you the tech congruent, you the tech adjacent, you the technical, there is room up here to build, uplift, grow, and expand. Mr. Williams and Miss Jones have returned us to ourselves by modeling the African philosophy of humanism, Ubuntu. For more information find community at www.benimbleco.com

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