So far, 2018 has been the year of rap beefs, constant album releases and, apparently, the year of giving back.
More than ever, we’re seeing back to back headlines about black male celebrities using their influence across all entertainment platforms for the greater good. Whether they’re creating positive images by giving back to the community with large donations, building schools and playgrounds or speaking to youth in inner cities, one thing for sure is that the love has been real.
Most recently, Michael Jordan made a multi-million dollar donation to a Portland based non-profit called Friends of The Children, which helped them not only reach, but exceed their fundraising goal for the year. And just last month, French Montana funded two preschool classes in his home country, Morocco, in addition to him raising $500,000 to build a hospital in Uganda. According to TMZ the facility reportedly opened in March and is helping more than 300,000 women in over 40 villages.
Meek Mill teamed up with Puma and Roc Nation to renovate a basketball court in his old neighborhood. According to Whereisthebuzz, Meek Mill donated over 6,000 backpacks in August before school started. He has been the face of prison reform after he was sentenced to two to four years in prison for a probation violation, following his 2008 conviction for drug and weapons charges.
Chance the Rapper made headlines when he donated over to a million dollars to Chicago Mental Health Services, and Jay-Z created documentaries highlighting the everyday injustices of black men in America, in addition to help raising six million dollars last month at the City of Hope Gala.
Though more celebrities are giving back, they’re definitely not the only ones. I recently had the chance to catch up with five different black male entrepreneurs across the US who are making a difference in their communities. I spoke with the founder of a multi-million dollar trucking company based in Atlanta, the co-founder of a tech company based in New York that helps minority students, a real estate agent who is providing solar energy in Somalia, the youngest restaurant owner in New Orleans, who launched a campaign to support black businesses, and two brothers in entertainment that are giving back to women in Africa.
Social Media: @itsme_amari
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Business: Sudu Logistics
Amari Ruff is the Founder of Sudu Logistsics, which creates a frictionless marketplace for shippers and carriers. He has an inspiring story of how he went from being homeless as a teenager, to building an eight-figure company. Though he’s busy running a successful business and being a father, that doesn’t stop him from giving back to the community. As a member of the Merging 100 Atlanta Non-Profit Organization, this entrepreneur spends time mentoring and tutoring young black men in the Atlanta area. He does various speaking engagements where he teaches students about business and encourages them to look into careers outside of entertainment. He has helped various high school children get into college and business programs.
Social Media: @EvinRobinson
Location: New York, New York
Business: New York On Tech
Evin Robinson, who is one of the Co-Founders of New York on Tech, created a platform to help over 1,000 minority children get into tech programs. To date he has placed students at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Oath, and AOL all while launching tech programs that are sponsored by NBC Universal, Google and FactSet. Their students have received full ride scholarships in top tech colleges and university programs for computer science technology and computer engineering. Their corporate partners have even increased their intake numbers of NYOT interns because of how well their students do in their programs.
HAMZA “ALI” WARDERE
Social Media: @Hamza_Wardere
Location: Washington, DC
Ali Wardere is a 31-year-old real estate developer that is now providing solar energy for hundreds of homes in Somalia. Wardere launched his social enterprise, Aftlin, on July 15, which aims to light up Africa and bring electricity and power to off-grid communities. With Aftiin, he has visited towns in Somalia where they have a total of one to two hours for power and live the rest of the day in darkness, due to the lack of money. He believes that a country that has on average 310 days of sun out of 365 days of the year should be able to use clean and renewable solar energy to accomplish the most basic needs such as light to read or study, for children, or to charge their phones. He recently ran a successful pilot program for Aftiin in two months and gained 200 paying customers that are currently enjoying clean renewable energy. All of the employees he hired for the program are local and with such high unemployment rate in Somalia, his plan is to create more jobs with the pilot program. They currently have 20 employees
Social Media: @Larry_Morrow
Location: New Orleans, LA
Larry Morrow is the youngest restaurant owner in New Orleans. The 27-year-old, who went from being a club promoter to successful entrepreneur, speaks at schools all over the nation to motivate the youth. He started the “Pay It Forward Nola” campaign in August, where he joined five other successful business owners to visit small businesses in the community to support and buy their products. The campaign received national recognition and other business owners in cities such as Chicago, Houston and Dallas have started their own “Pay It Forward” movement. He also just launched a Christmas campaign where he’ll be giving away a car to one lucky and hard-working single mother in the community.
REESE NANCE AND EARL SMITH
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Business: God Familia, LLC
Reese Nance and Earl Smith are two brothers who are using their talents in entertainment to give back to Zimbabwe. The young men love to give back and even started a non-profit after visiting Africa to film a music video in Zimbabwe. From there, he made it his mission to not only show what the media shows which is violence, starving children and diseases, but to show the more beautiful sides of Africa, all while helping those in need. The music video immediately became a hit. It was played on every major radio station in the country and landed him a major news interview on Good Morning Zimbabwe. While in Africa, they connected with a local all female school to provide tampons and sanitary items for up to 300 women. They also created music with a popular blind group of musicians in Zimbabwe known as JJ vibes. They went around the country to put on free shows for the residents.