I have always had a dream to give back to my community in an innovative way.
I recognized that many other young men like myself have their own personal dreams and aspirations as well and I wanted to create a platform for them to develop those dreams and make them a reality. With the help of the University of Delaware’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship and local nonprofit, the One Village Alliance, I was given the resources necessary to make my own dream a reality while doing the same for others in the community.
Held next week, Raising Kings Week’s “I Have a Dream” Business Pitch Competition is my first attempt at building a culture of entrepreneurship among youth in Wilmington. I used skills gained through the Horn Program to validate that this was something the community needed. After spending my free time walking around the city and interviewing various local entrepreneurs, my hypothesis was verified: as kids, they had never been encouraged to pursue careers in entrepreneurship.
Wilmington has a lot of creative young minds that are using entrepreneurial skills everyday, however, there is a lack of encouragement for them to launch and continue their own ventures. For the ones who are actively developing their businesses, we almost never hear about them.
We should promote the brilliance and creativity of young entrepreneurs.
From Markevis Gideon, founder of tech repair shop NerditNow, who as a kid would buy up all the melting salt from local stores then charge to shovel local driveways and sidewalks to 15-year-old Nasai Oliver, or better known as Myster Lemonade, who’s expanded his lemonade stand to include other beverages and now works out of local coworking space Artist Ave Station. Kids like them have dreams, and many are actively chasing those dreams, yet often times that’s not what is broadcasted in the media. We should promote the brilliance and creativity of these young individuals and paint the picture of Wilmington’s youth as tomorrow’s next entrepreneurial leaders. There could be a young man out there who’s idea could completely change the world. It’s important to showcase the incredible work that is currently being done in the community and to connect these young men with mentors who will guide and inspire them to chase their dreams.
I’ve been so empowered by participating in various pitch competitions at the Venture Development Center and, most recently, my pitch at the Tech2gether conference. I wanted to create that same feeling and experience for young guys that need it.
The pitch competition will be held on January 10 from 7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at 1313 Innovation in Wilmington and I’m excited to co-host the event with Nasai Oliver aka Myster Lemonade. Judges will include Zip Code Wilmington’s own Tariq Hook, Artist Ave Station’s Jason Aviles and Pedro Moore of First State Angels.
The “I Have a Dream” Pitch Competition is the kickoff event in a week long dedication to empowering local young men of color titled the “Raising Kings Week of Action.” This is the fifth year of Raising Kings and the first time that there will be a full week of events (it began as just a weekend). The event is free and open to everyone in the community from young boys, men, mothers raising sons, mentors, volunteers and community leaders. The week also includes a chess tournament at the Ferris School for Boys, a free film screening of the “13th” documentary and a Saturday conference full of workshops, free food and empowerment. What better way celebrate and continue the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership?