A program dedicated to young black men is changing the lives of locals, one small business at a time.
“The Tulsa Initiative is a nonprofit in Fayetteville where we recruit black and brown male entrepreneurs, ages 18 to 25, through a 10-week program,” said Qu’Derrick, executive director of the Tulsa Initiative Covington said.
During the program, young people learn how to start their own business and how to obtain an LLC license, he said. At the end of the 10-week program, the young people market their businesses for a chance to win start-up capital, Covington said.
He said the funds were provided by community donors who helped nine young people start their own businesses. Two of the businesses are a social media marketing company and a health and wellness company, Covington said.
Naviyea Adams, a 23-year-old former Tulsa Initiative member, is a native of Fayetteville and a graduate of EE Smith High School. He is now a senior in health and physical education at Fayetteville State University. Adams said he benefited greatly from the skills he learned during the project.
Adams said he started baking cakes in a jar in high school and turned it into a small business called Navi’s Sweet Treats. He said he first started baking when he was seven.
“Once I graduate, I do plan to stay away from cake,” he said.
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Adams now also runs a small business called MIA Beauty Supplies with his father, John Adams. Adams said his father had been selling hair products for more than 30 years before bringing him into the company.
The supply business sells a variety of hair care products such as copper mint, shampoos, conditioners and hair relaxers. Adams uses the skills he learned during the 10-week program to strengthen his beauty supply business talking points.
“When I was in the Tulsa Initiative…I was actually pitching my product to the board Q’derrick,” he said.
The Tulsa Initiative, which began in 2019, is a program designed for young people of color who are working toward their dream of owning their own business.
“Tulsa is great,” he said. “It’s groundbreaking. I think it’s a game changer.”
Adams said before the show that he had no financial literacy.
“There is a wealth gap,” he said of people of color. “When it comes to financial literacy, we really don’t have it.”
Adams said the move taught him skills that others had to pay for, such as how to build a business model, how to apply for an LLC and publicize it.
“The world still hasn’t given us something, we have to get it ourselves,” he said. “I think the Tulsa initiative, they really gave it to us for free.”
Adams said the initiative is in its third year.
“I’ve seen what it’s done for the city of Fayetteville,” he said.
Fayetteville has the most Black-owned businesses in the nation, according to Leading Tree.
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“Everything we do is out of love for Fayetteville,” Adams said.