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Pathways to Economic Success: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 41st Annual Legislative Conference: The Matthew Effect Panel Insights

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Insights from By Liz Ngonzi. Founder / CEO Amazing Taste, LLC / Adjunct Faculty Member, New York University Heyman Center for Philanthropy on the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 41st Annual …

Insights from By Liz Ngonzi. Founder / CEO Amazing Taste, LLC / Adjunct Faculty Member, New York University Heyman Center for Philanthropy on the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 41st Annual Legislative Conference Panel--The Matthew Effect: Closing the Economic Gap.

More information about Liz Ngonzi: http://lizngonzi.squarespace.com/

More information about the CBCF's panels: http://www.slideshare.net/ElizabethNgonzi/congressional-black-caucus-foundations-41st-annual-legislative-conference-emerging-leaders-series-journal

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  • 1. Pathways to Economic Success: A De-brief of Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 41st Annual Legislative Conference: The Matthew Effect Panel By Liz NgonziAfrican Americans have been and continue to be disproportionately affected by the economic crisis in America -- so much sothat their median wealth is 1/20th that of whites, with a 53% drop between 2005 and 2009, as compared to a 16% drop forwhites.In terms of unemployment, there are cities in America where the disparity with a black-to-white unemployment rate isas much as 3.8-to-1. The aforementioned are compounded by the fact that in African American communities income circulatesless than one time, as compared to white communities (unlimited times), Jewish communities (12+ times); Asians (nine times),and Latinos (six+ times).The statistics don’t lie: the economic gap as it relates to the Black community is widening at alarming rates.It is against thebackdrop of alarming statistics such as the ones above, that the CBCF’s September 2011 panel entitled The Matthew Effect:Bridging The Economic Gap, focused on addressing the increasing divide between the rich and poor and provided possiblepathways to successfully closing the gap for African Americans. The panel was part of the CBCF’s Emerging Leaders Seriesduring the recent 41st Annual Legislative Conference -- designed to engage young leaders between the ages of 18 and 35 --as a means to provide them with issue forums to inform their career and community development efforts.The majority of the dialogue during The Matthew Effectpanel focused on African American economic development through thefollowing avenues: entrepreneurship, black philanthropy, increased educational attainment, protection of intellectual property,development of sound financial management practices, seeking of growth-oriented relationships and partnering towarddevelopment. Emphasis was placed on the need for African Americans involved in informal entrepreneurship to develop waysto formalize and scale their businesses – thereby enabling them to create more wealth and jobs.Here are the Top 7 Takeaways and Pathways to Success: 1. Develop, Scale and Support of African-American Entrepreneurial Activities: The panelists all agreed that entrepreneurship is a key ingredient to African American economic development, with special emphasis on moving beyond the traditional small “mom and pop” service operations to those that are larger and operate more efficiently (e.g., through franchising models) and looking to develop businesses that reflect and leverage the growing digital economy. Discussion also centered around the need for African Americans to actively seek out opportunities to support black businesses as exemplified by one of the panelists, Margarita Anderson, Founder and CEO, of The Empowerment Experiment, which advocates conscious consumerism. Erica Smiley, Senior Field Organizer with Jobs with Justice added that while black-owned businesses are great sources of employment for the community, she suggested that their business practices need not reflect those of larger mainstream ones that exploit employees, such as paying below family wage levels. 2. Protect and Monetize Intellectual Property: Panelist LateefMtima, Professor of Law and Founder / Director, Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice at Howard University School of Law, provided insights into the importance of understanding the intellectual property in our communities, such as methods of braiding hair, etc., which can be trademarked. He indicated that 1/3 of American corporation’s values are derived from their protected intellectual assets – which many in our community fail to protect and, therefore, lose out on potentially significant monetary benefits. For free information on how to recognize, protect and monetize assets, visit the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice at Howard University School of Law. 3. Improve Financial Management: All the panelists agreed that young people need to practice delayed gratification as they navigate through their careers, begin “side hustles” and give back to others, so as to develop individual and contribute to community wealth. Panelist Jerome Love, Founder and CEO of the Texas Black Expo, Inc. shared anecdotes from his own life indicating the importance of living beneath ones’ means as a way of minimizing debt and investing in affordable real estate, as a way to build wealth.Copyright @ 2011, Amazing Taste, LLC All Rights Reserved Page 1 of 2
  • 2. 4. Acquire Educational Capital and Develop Skills Continually: With the rising cost of higher education and an increasing number of college graduates facing the prospect of moving back in with their parents, as a way to manage student loan payments while seeking employment, LateefMtima, suggested that students choose majors that will enable them to find higher paying and more readily available jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. While panelist, Kristal High, Founding Editor-In-Chief, Politic365.com, indicated the importance of continuing to invest in one’s education, despite rising costs, she recommended focusing on one’s education as an investment that could potentially have a high return. 5. Increase Philanthropic Efforts by African Americans: Panelists spoke to the need for older professionals to provide mentoring support for younger African Americans, as a means to help them avoid potential pitfalls and improve their likelihood for success. Panelist Liz Ngonzi, a global social entrepreneur (founder and CEO of Amazing Taste, LLC) on the adjunct faculty at New York University Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, citing a Pew Research Center study that indicates that religion is important to 80% of African Americans, stated that black churches, which benefit greatly from this community, need to step-up more through entrepreneurial skills development programs, investment activities, and other related programs that ultimately result in more affluent parishioners and obviously potentially greater tithing amounts. Additionally, she suggested that affluent African Americans are continuing to be excellent sources for impact investing and giving to causes that help to empower African Americans. 6. Work Toward Global Black Economic Development: An additional point relevant to the conversation, is panelist Liz Ngonzi’s recognition that many of the challenges, including economic development ones -- faced by African Americans, are quite similar to those faced by their counterparts on the African continent and as indicated by moderator, Jaky Joseph, Quantitative Investment Banker, Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- in the Caribbean. As such, organizations such as CBCF have an opportunity to develop forums encouraging the sharing of best practices and lessons learned by all, with the ultimate goal of working together to build joint pathways to global black economic development. 7. Develop Growth-oriented Relationships: In response to a question from a participant regarding the challenges African Americans face in developing value-added marital relationships, panelist Margarita Anderson, citing her own marriage, indicated the importance of evaluating partners based on their potential to generate mutually-beneficial relationships that help to create growth opportunities and wealth.Notes: “The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households.” “The net worth of black households fell from $12,124 in 2005 to $5,677 in 2009, a decline of 53%.... The drop in the wealth of white households was modest in comparison, falling 16% from $134,992 in 2005 to $113,149 in 2009.”Pew Research Center “In 2010, Detroit, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, and Minneapolis all had black unemployment rates of 20 percent or higher, comparable to the peak national unemployment rates during the Great Depression of the 1930s.” “In Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Baton Rouge, La., blacks were more than three times as likely to be unemployed as whites in 2010. Milwaukee had the biggest disparity with a black-to-white unemployment rate ratio of 3.8-to-1.”Economic Policy Institute“The Harvest Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based research group, surveyed how many times income circulates within acommunity before leaving and has found that in the Black community, income circulates zero to one time. In the whitecommunity, income circulates unlimited times, in the Jewish community, income circulates at least 12 times; Asians recycle atleast nine times, and Latinos recycle their dollars at least six times.” Louisiana WeeklyCopyright @ 2011, Amazing Taste, LLC All Rights Reserved Page 2 of 2