Truly successful business owners understand that wealth isn’t quantified only by the size of one’s portfolio; it lies in the ability to manifest a collective win by mentoring and nurturing the next generation within your field. EBONY identified a few great men who’ve made it their mission. Prepare to have your chest swell with pride. These seven entrepreneurs are focused on generating dollars in a way that makes sense: by serving our community and helping the next generation.
Brandon Byrd, 37
Owns Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats
Where: Washington, D.C.
I’m Giving Back By: I do a back-to-school drive and give out popsicles; I mentor young men; and I make in-kind donations to organizations and families. I believe in reciprocity, and if you do good, it will come back to you.
I’m Most Proud When I See Black Men: Succeeding in nontraditional roles. We tend to think the only way to succeed is by being a rapper or ballplayer, but when I see someone such as basketball historian Claude Johnson thriving in a nontraditional or non-stereotypical role, it makes me proud.
The Best Advice a Black Man Gave Me: I met this guy when I started out in D.C. who said, “They gave us what we wanted, but we lost what we had.” That resonated with me because we are often quick to accept whatever is given.
Gene Waddy, CEO, 38
Owns Diversant (IT recruitment)
Where: Redbank, N.J.
I Decided to Take Action Because: I would go to industry events and could count the number of Black business owners on one hand. I got tired of being only one of a few, so I knew I had to reach back and show other people in the community how they could start their own businesses.
When I Realized My Efforts Were Paying Off: While speaking at a minority business award ceremony a couple of years ago, I encouraged folks to consider entrepreneurship. The next time I met with the organization, folks came up to me and shared they’d started their own businesses. That’s when I knew my words and actions mattered.
I’m Most Proud When I See Black Men: Supporting one another and helping each other make great choices. Being a source of strength in a community and serving as a role model is the best thing anyone can do.
David Delancy III, 44
Owns One Day Came Construction, Inc.
Where: Tallahassee, Fla.
I’m Most Proud When I See Black Men: Fighting against all odds. I am proud to be Black, and I wouldn’t trade that in for anything in the world. Some of the things we go through can bring out a little extra pride, and people tend to mistake it for arrogance.
What’s Next: I do business statewide, but I’d like to become a national brand. I want to extend my range. I want to be able to double and triple my giving, and to offer more jobs and internships at a higher level.
The Best Advice a Black Man Gave Me: Always keep the faith in God. Things can change for you, and as long as you hold on to God’s unchanging hand and stay next to Him, anything can happen.
Jason Warner, 37
Founder of Own the Vision Foundation
Where: Charlotte, N.C.
How I’m Giving Back: We are redirecting more of the Black dollars back to our neighborhoods. I work daily to educate, motivate and shift the mindset of African-Americans on the importance of working collectively.
What’s Next: Black people can’t expect a system that was created to use us and mistreat us to [essentially say], “We’re sorry. Here are the resources to bridge the equity gap.” We have to do this for ourselves, and it starts with investing in our communities first.
The Best Advice a Black Man Gave Me: “Don’t stop; keep pushing.” My dad gave me a rhinoceros statue, and it’s on my table to remind me to keep pushing forward, just like a rhino puts his head down and keeps moving.”
Joseph A. Tucker Sr., 60
Owns Victory Personnel Services, Inc.
How I’m Giving Back: My company was created to serve others. I wanted it to be like a lighthouse that guides ships looking for safe harbor because I knew my clientele. I was serving distressed and disadvantaged people. I help people get jobs, and I mentor them.
When I Realized My Efforts Were Paying Off: Right away. Just because a person doesn’t do well in interviews doesn’t mean he or she won’t work hard. Time and time again, people showed me they were serious about work.
The Best Advice a Black Man Gave Me: Never let the things you cannot do get in the way of things you can do. And we can do a lot.
Mark Click, 48
Owns Legacy Wealth Compendium (financial service provider)
Where: Louisville, K.Y.
I Knew I Had to Move to Action: I wanted to help people like me thrive in our community because I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon or live in a certain zip code. I wanted to be one of those people (in financial services) who could make a change.
I’m Proud When I See Black Men: Serve as role models. We have an opportunity to present ourselves as a driving force in this economy, and we dictate trillions of dollars in this country in product sales.
The Best Advice a Black Man Gave Me: Take control of your destiny and don’t depend on others. Dream as big as your mind can take you, and have a vision big enough that you have to include others to be successful.
Gary L. Davis Sr., 43
Founder of Next Level Boys Academy
I Knew I Had to Move to Action: I quit my job one week after Barack Obama became president of the United States. I was making a lot of money at that time but still felt a void. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew I loved working with children. It took me two weeks to figure out what was next.
When I Realized My Efforts Were Paying Off: I noticed principals from other schools were telling parents to send their boys to me. When you get referrals like that, it lets you know people see that change is happening.
What’s Next: My goal is to prevent young men from dying or going to jail, so I want to create a housing development where I can have them reside and our team can help keep them on the right track.
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Senior Producer, EBONY.com