Young Black Social Entrepreneurs Hoping to Do Well by Doing Good

Inspired by the billions allotted to renewable energy in President Obama’s 2008 stimulus package, Donnel Baird, 31, figured the emerging industry is where he ought to be. But instead of angling for a government handout, the Columbia University business school student founded his own company. The result is BlocPower, a venture he’s soft-launching by December that helps small businesses, churches, charter schools and various institutions in urban areas get outfitted with solar panels and other energy-efficient products.

Morehouse College buddies Markese Bryant, 28, and John Jordan, 23, are also aiming to kick off their own environmentally conscious project. With Fight for Light, the partners plan to create a three-year fellowship program for college students who will work to increase their environmental literacy, receive practical training and be encouraged to implement their own green initiatives.

Then there’s Amaha Kassa, 39, a first-generation Ethiopian immigrant, who has established the Africa Immigrant Diaspora Alliance (AIDA). His nonprofit is poised to provide a legal advice and other community building services to African immigrant populations concentrated in cities such as New York.

All four are examples of black social entrepreneurs, an emerging breed of civic-minded business leader who have created companies and organizations that focus on a triple bottom line — people, planet and profit. Echoing Green, a global nonprofit that provides seed money and other resources to entrepreneurs advocating for social change, selected them as fellows in its Black Male Achievement project. In conjunction with the Open Society Foundation, the fellowship winners (a total of nine entrepreneurs) get a $70,000 stipend and other professional perks…

Read more: The Root

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