Innovative leaders come from all backgrounds, and these eight minority-owned businesses are doing their part to change America for the better. From focusing on renewable energy and sustainable foods to creating the 3D printing technology used on NASA spaceships, these companies — and the visionaries behind them — are shaping the future of our country.
Tao Kong founded Alcen Renewable with a mission to develop renewable energy products while educating the public about their benefits. Kong has been building numerous major wind energy installations around the U.S., and also works in the field of solar energy development. He hopes his company can have a long-term, positive impact on society by working to create solutions to the climate change crisis.
Blank Tag Co.
Remi Silva got the idea for his sticker company blank tag co. after seeing the unique stickers sold at local shops while traveling around Japan with his girlfriend.
“After a week of traveling through Tokyo and talking about the stickers, we knew that we had to bring this excitement to the U.S.,” he wrote on the company’s website. “Culture and happiness are very important to both of us, and we want to showcase that to the world, via stickers. With every new design, we hope that our stickers bring you the same excitement and happiness that we feel every time we think of our culture and travel memories.”
Silva’s simple idea has already turned a profit since its founding in February 2017: The company has grossed over $80,000 in 2018.
Clever Girl Finance
Clever Girl Finance, an online financial education platform focused on empowering women of color, was born out of founder Bola Sokunbi’s own experiences.
“I couldn’t find any resources I could relate to as a woman of color as I progressed in life,” she said. So she started the site as a way to share her own personal finance successes, including how she saved over $100,000 in three years after graduating college, switched careers and negotiated a better salary for herself. Clever Girl Finance now reaches over 150,000 women of color and empowers them to make better decisions through financial literacy.
Chance Glenn, the founder of Electronic Alchemy, is a leader in the 3D printing world. He is also the co-inventor of the eForge, which was the first 3D printer capable of printing electronic components. Electronic Alchemy’s innovative products have earned it backing from NASA, which has partnered with the company to utilize 3D printing technology for use in spaceships. Glenn hopes to build out his company to become a hub for 3D printer makers and users to create and share designs for distribution to other members.
Lisa Q. Fetterman launched the Nomiku sous vide machine after raising over $1 million with Kickstarter campaigns. She’s gone on to release two cookbooks and has expanded her business to a meal delivery service created with sustainability in mind. All of the butchers and farmers the company works with are sustainable, and packaging for the meals is minimal to create the least amount of waste.
Q Link Wireless
Issa Asad is founder and CEO of Q Link Wireless, which supplies low-income individuals and families across America with a free cellphone and phone plan that includes free calling, free monthly data and unlimited text messaging through the government-run Lifeline assistance program. The program was designed for Americans who might not otherwise have access to vital communication services, including the ability to make 911 calls. Today, Q Link is the third-largest Lifeline carrier in the country with more than 2 million customers.
“I motivate others by putting in as much effort as anyone else on my team,” said Asad. “I work hard, I make sure I’m available, and I welcome any and all ideas from anyone in the company.”
Sa El co-founded Simply Insurance to educate the average person about insurance and to provide them with options to purchase the coverage they need. El started the company after his grandmother passed away from ovarian cancer, and his family was struck not only by the loss but also by a large financial burden.
“She had no life insurance, and we were stuck footing the bill while mourning,” he said. “I realized how uneducated everyone was about insurance in general, and so I started selling life insurance.”
He’s now a licensed insurance agent with over a decade of experience behind his brand.
Titanium Cookware Collection
While getting rid of toxins in her own home, Nanette Makrauer realized that much of her cookware could potentially be adding to the problem. Makrauer discovered titanium cookware while traveling in Germany, and decided to bring it to the U.S. so that others looking for toxin-free cookware could also have easy access. She now imports hand-cast cookware made in a German foundry and resells it on her website, Titanium Cookware Collection.
“I set out to make something better, and to bring a healthier, longer-lasting, quality product into the U.S.,” she said. “In doing so, we created an online presence with integrity, reliability and sincere customer service. And that’s luxury we can all live with.”
Titanium Cookware Collection reached $147,000 in sales last year.
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