Call to Action – Invest in Black Businesses — January 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman January 23rd, 2017

The hue and cry from many of our people continues to be centered on “lack of access to capital” by Black owned businesses, especially start-ups and micro-businesses. The financial markets are not very favorable to our needs, thus, much of the potential among our prospective entrepreneurs is never realized. Many aspiring Black business owners, who could be successful, give up and quit because they cannot raise capital; and some businesses that could be grown to scale and employ workers never get the opportunity to do so.

Another complaint I hear is in reference to our young people. Some say we refuse to support them, and we do not encourage them to get involved and take the lead in our movements and organizations. I agree with that to some extent, but it’s not the case with THE One Million. We are always looking for conscientiously conscious young people to join us and offer their time, talent, and treasure to help our movement progress. We also reciprocate by doing what we can to support our members, not just with rah-rah lip-service but with our time, talent, and treasure in return.

To that end, I believe we have found one such “youngster” in the person of Rashaan Everett, a recent Howard University graduate of the School of Business. He joined THE One Million after contacting me regarding his investment concept, The Greenwood Project. (www.thegreenwoodproject.org) I introduced Everett to Mr. John Brown, partner in the Bedford Group, a development firm in Los Angeles where Rashaan lives. He is also a member of THE One Million.

Subsequently, Brown has taken on a “mentoring” role with Everett; they presented The Greenwood Project at our Training and Orientation meeting in Beaumont Texas, January 6-8, 2017, and I am proud to say THE One Million is highly supportive of this young brother’s project as well as participatory in his investment strategy to start and grow small Black owned businesses via crowdfunding.

The Greenwood Project is a collective fund for start-ups and micro businesses in which supporters can invest a minimum of $100.00 and will receive a contract entitling them to a share of the profits earned from their investments. To reiterate, this is an “investment” that, like other investments, carries no guarantee; it is not a donation.

Everett has assembled a team of the best and brightest Black scholars and professionals capable of managing the fund appropriately; and there is a very significant financial upside to his plan.

“Black people can control our own destiny,” Rashaan says. “We can make this part of our “Internal Reparations,” as some of our elders have suggested. If we support the innovative and creative businesses funded by the Greenwood Project, each investor can earn significant profits.”

Projected to raise a total of $1 million, which will be invested into black businesses, the profits from which will be re-cycled many times over by other Black businesses and individuals, The Greenwood Project is yet another answer to problems Black folks have been railing against. Now all we have to do, after due diligence of course, is invest (pool) our money and create more “conscientiously conscious Black millionaires,” something THE One Million has been advocating for a while now.

The Greenwood Project is based on President Obama’s JOBS Act, which allows for non-accredited investors to invest in private companies for the first time since 1933. Before the law changed, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) mandated an individual must have a net worth of $1 million, excluding real estate, to make angel investments. Obviously, this disproportionately affected Blacks, and systematically prevented us from building our own companies and our own wealth.

For the last 83 years, until May 16, 2016, this type of fund and project were illegal. It is very important for Black people to take advantage of this new law NOW before it changes again, as it could under the new administration.

The Greenwood Project is already operational, approved, and verified, taking advantage of the new law. Everett’s team has worked with lawyers, CPA’s, and bankers to assure it viability and its legality, and now with John Brown aboard, a man I have known for nearly twenty years and a man who has demonstrated his expertise in finance and business strategies, I have no doubt this project will work if we work it.

The Greenwood Project has officially earned SEC and government regulatory approval and is seeking people who are willing to invest a minimum of $100.00, right now via www.wefunder.com/greenwoodproject. This is yet another “Call to Action” to those among us who are tired of being hamstrung by a lack of capital, and are ready, willing, and able to do something to change that. Get on board The Greenwood Project by investing in yourselves. And join THE One Million too. www.iamoneofthemillion.com.

 

 

New Year – New Strategy — January 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman January 16th, 2017

For those of us who were blessed to see it, another year has arrived and brings with it another opportunity to start afresh with new ways to move our people closer to economic empowerment. The New Year brings a clean slate, so to speak, since we like to make resolutions and promises regarding things we would like to change. So what will we write on our 2017 slate? What will be our agenda this year? What strategy will we employ to empower our people? Will we stay on the endless circular path that has led to where we are today? Will we follow a new path? Will we adopt a new strategy?

Whatever we decide to commit ourselves to will certainly not be new; everything we need to do in 2017 has already been done by our ancestors who lived and survived in this country for centuries, under the worst treatment human beings could suffer. But 2017 is new, and it’s always good to look at our commitments in a new light, with a new resolve, and out of a renewed strength. Are you ready?

Here we go. Don’t fall for the same old tired rhetoric we hear every day from self-appointed “leaders” who do not lead by example. Don’t continue following folks that are only sending you deeper into the woods of poverty, while they relax in the lush fields of prosperity.

Don’t get hood-winked by pandering politicians and prosperity preachers who are only interested in what they can get for themselves, and how they can use you to get another pair of “gators,” a Bentley, a mansion, or elected to public office. Don’t be lulled to sleep by intellectual banter that makes you feel good but never tells you how to do good, or do well, for that matter.

Don’t succumb to celebrity claptrap, which only excites the Paparazzi rather than enlightens our people. Don’t get down in the muck with entertainers who denigrate themselves and us. And please don’t subscribe to the same old “okey-doke” that has literally and figuratively programmed our people to wait to be rescued by folks who care very little about us.

What must we do? First, raise the level of your Black consciousness by reading, by studying, by listening, and by associating with brothers and sisters who are serious about doing the work of liberation and unashamed to proclaim their Blackness. Connect with other individuals and collectively establish economic initiatives that benefit Black people; trust me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; other groups do it all the time.

Be prepared to make the sacrifices required to move the masses of Black people forward. Always define yourself, and do not accept definitions like “minority” and “person of color.” Terms like those really lose something in translation, namely, us.

Stand up against injustice and wrongdoing, no matter who the perpetrator is, white, Black, or any other color. Follow through on your commitments. Get fired up, but stay fired up long enough to get the work done. Teach your children how to navigate through this world.

Take better care of yourself. Find something physical that you can do and keep doing it for the rest of your life. Yes, it will hurt sometimes, but it’s worth it. Try not to eat so much of whatever you are eating. Just eat less of everything and get up and do something to burn some calories.

Do kind things for those less fortunate than you. It doesn’t always have to be money. It could be an encouraging word, a hug without words, some baked cookies, a small gift just because, or a few hours spent with a child who may not have a father or a mother. You don’t need a program to do this; you just need yourself.

Seek out new Black leadership, authentic leadership, or be a leader yourself. There are young folks all across this country waiting to step up to the task of leadership, many of who are leading right now. Find them, especially you old soldiers out there; you can’t hang on forever, you know. Teach the young and pass the baton to them, not to someone on the other team.

Start viable businesses, grow those businesses, and create jobs for our people. Build economic enclaves throughout this country, like our relatives did two hundred years ago. Identify industries where we have the competitive advantage because of our consumerism, and build vertically integrated businesses within those industries. Boycott prisons! Stay out of the cells and get into sales. The time is long overdue for us to take our rightful place in this country, politically, socially, educationally, and most of all economically.

I have hitched my wagon to THE One Million (www.iamoneofthemillion.com); you do what is right for you. Have a wonderfully blessed 2017.

 

 

It’s Tax Time! — January 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman January 2nd, 2017

Having written many articles on what takes place from January through April, each year, relative to our tax payments and refunds, I understand that we need reinforcement and repetition on certain issues. Just as advertisers and marketers understand the power of continuous exposure to their messages, Black folks need the same thing, especially when it comes to getting us to act on basic, sound, practical, and collective economic and business principles. So please take a little time to read my latest repetitive missive on one of this nation’s finest Black owned businesses— ComproTax .

The tax preparation industry generates between $6 billion and $9 billion annually, which indicates that there are plenty of tax returns to go around – the IRS estimates that there will be over 250 million filed by 2018 with revenues of $11 billion!. Compared to our percentage of population (13%), Black owned tax preparation businesses should have revenues of at least $1 billion. As far as I am concerned, ComproTax alone should be a billion-dollar business, considering it has some 220 affiliates throughout the nation.

One advantage that ComproTax brings to its customers is year-round services. That’s because ComproTax is more than a tax preparation service. While most of the large chains only come into our neighborhoods for four months or so, until around April 15. ComproTax is always there, providing Tax Preparation Training, Insurance Products, Bookkeeping Services, Payroll Services, Business Mentoring, and Small Business Consulting.

Additionally, ComproTax Founder, Jackie Mayfield, and his two co-founders, Yusuf Muhammad and Craig Johnson, believe in something many Black businesses only talk about: Giving back. They return some of their profits to community activities and charitable causes, and they provide sponsorships for many Black events across the country. In other words, they are “Conscientiously Conscious” business owners.

Mayfield states, “When it comes to tax preparation, you have a lot of choices. So, why choose ComproTax? ComproTax provides complete and professional tax preparation and bookkeeping services with the personal attention that you deserve. We have over 220 offices nationwide and we are steadily growing. In addition to our convenient office locations, we have hundreds of mobile affiliates that will come directly to you. Our tax preparers are committed to ongoing training to ensure that you get the best service and the best tax refund available. In short, we offer a vast network of trained professionals that are ready to serve you in tax season and out of season.”

He continued, “At ComproTax we are about relationships. We work hard to get your business and develop a relationship of trust. We do this by being knowledgeable about new laws and requirements that affect your taxes, being reliable, and being confidential. That’s why our customers come back to us year after year. Don’t trust just anyone to handle your taxes and confidential books. Contact a ComproTax professional and begin a relationship with someone that you can trust.”

One thing I personally love to brag about is the Compro Event Center, a full-service convention center built, owned, and operated by ComproTax a few years ago and located in Beaumont, Texas. Managed by Fred Zeno,
another ComproTax stalwart and long-time business associate to Mayfield and the co-founders, the Event Center is a spacious and luxuriously appointed venue that can be used for weddings, various meetings and conventions, parties, and banquets. I am proud to say that THE One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters will hold our quarterly Training and Orientation gathering there January 6-8, 2017. It would be great of other Black groups would do likewise; it is one thing to talk about supporting Black venues, but it is much better to act upon those words.

Please watch this video of the Compro Event Center and plan your next meeting there.

ComproTax was founded in 1982 and has since created a platform for true economic empowerment via entrepreneurship, by modeling a high level of conscientious consciousness in addition to merely talking about it. As Brother Mayfield said in a speech 16 years ago at a MATAH conference in Philadelphia, “Not only should we be conscious, our consciousness must be disturbed enough for us to do what must be done to achieve real economic power.”

To that I say Ase (Ashe) and Amen!

We should support this and other Black owned businesses that believe in reciprocity and providing top-quality goods and services to their customers. For more information on ComproTax and to find an office near you, go to www.comprotax.net or call 1-888-884-2829. In any case, however, use a competent Black owned tax firm this year.

 

 

Kwanzaa 2016 – Celebration or Lamentation? — December 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman December 28th, 2016

For fifty years Black people in the United States have celebrated the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Established by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions throughout the world African community. Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. Our obvious support and celebration of this occasion suggests our commitment, not only to the principles of the Nguzo Saba, but also to their fruition. Thus, we ask you: What Kwanzaa success will you celebrate this year? What have you done during the year that qualifies as a celebratory event during Kwanzaa?

Have you achieved Unity, Umoja, among Black folks in your locale? Are you unified to the point that you love one another more and support one another more? Do you have proof that you have unified around some pertinent issue or cause? If so, then let the celebration begin. If not, let the lamentation begin.

How about Self-Determination? Kujichagulia. What have you done in your city to demonstrate your commitment to determining the future of your children? Are others still controlling your destiny? Or have you taken it upon yourself to build and support your own institutions, open and grow new business, and create your own jobs?

Can you celebrate an accomplishment during 2016 vis-à-vis collective work and responsibility toward one another? Are you celebrating Ujima this year, or are you lamenting about what we have not done? If you have worked collectively on community projects such as neighborhood clean-up, elderly assistance, or tutoring, then your Kwanzaa celebration is in order.

Now, here’s my favorite: Cooperative Economics, Ujamaa. Have you done anything cooperatively this year to increase the economic viability and stability of your community? Have you pooled any of your money to finance a project or to form an investment group to assist micro businesses? Have you purchased Black manufactured products on a consistent basis?

What have you done to build and develop your community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness? In other words, what is your purpose, Nia, and have you actualized that purpose? If you have, then you definitely have something to celebrate.

Have you created anything lately? What has been the level of your creativity, Kuumba, this past year? Is there anything, not necessarily something material, that you created to benefit your community? Maybe it was a new financial institution, a volunteer food service program for those in need, or maybe it was a new resolve and commitment to do better than you did the previous year. Creativity covers a multitude of endeavors.

Finally, how much faith, Imani, do you have in the things you are celebrating? How much faith do you have in yourself? How much faith do you have in your brothers and sisters? How much faith do you have in the Creator’s ability to carry you through in times of struggle? Are you one of “little faith,” or is your faith sufficient to support you in your quest to fulfill the other six principles of Kwanzaa?

Aren’t you tired of mere spoken words? Aren’t you just a little weary of empty rhetoric, events based on words followed by little or no subsequent action? Wouldn’t you like to see us, after fifty years of celebrating Kwanzaa, be able to point to something we built and sustained because of our celebration of values we hold so dear?

On December 26th of every year, after fifty years of celebrating, we should be able to look back and revel in the things we have accomplished through our celebration of Kwanzaa. What will you see when you look back this year? If nothing is there except a mere celebration of principles rather than progress, then you have some work to do. Use this year’s Kwanzaa to act upon the seven principles so that this time next year you will have some tangible accomplishment to celebrate.

Again, my favorite principle is Ujamaa, so I’d like to offer something you can do to celebrate it. Go to www.iamoneofthemillion.com and purchase a few bags of Sweet Unity Coffee for yourself and for Kwanzaa gifts for a few friends. Then celebrate by toasting “sweet unity” among our people.


The founder of Kwanzaa, Maulana Karenga, did more than just come up with some nice words and principles for us to recognize and follow during this season. He has shared many words with us on how we must conduct ourselves at all times—not just during Kwanzaa. One thing he warned against was Black folks getting stuck in a place where most of what we do is lament “litanies of lost battles.” Kwanzaa must be a true celebration of production and progress, not just another lamentation of having lost.