First-Generation NYC Students Develop Business Skills to Help Harlem Business Owners

In a time when anti-immigration rhetoric is scaling new heights in the US and the EU, there is a bright spot in the U.S. migration story. A New York City pilot program teaches first-generation high school students financial literacy and entrepreneurship. It is a win for all communities involved.

First-Generation Entrepreneurs Trailer
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Spotlight: Chateau Suau Leads Bordeaux’s Organic Reign

Full disclosure: My cousin Tom is married to Monique Bonnet, the founder of Chateau Suau.

Monique is one of the few successful woman leaders working in wine in Bordeaux. She has been running the family vineyard since the 1980’s.

Around 2007, she noticed her workers were developing rashes, runny eyes, and other symptoms. After a few conversations she learned they were impacted by the pesticides that treat the grapes. Most vineyards still use toxic pesticides today. She said, “That’s it. We are going organic.” At a huge cost, they lost almost three years of production to convert their more than 150 acres into an organic vineyard.

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Sanitation Entrepreneur Takes on War and Climate

Last fall we had the pleasure of speaking with entrepreneur Bara Wahbeh, Co-founder and CTO of Akyas Sanitation, from his home in Amman, Jordan.

Bara Wahbeh on the urgent need for sanitation

Wahbeh, with his team of four, created a sustainable toilet system after Wahbeh worked in Izmir, Turkey. For many months he witnessed thousands of displaced Syrian people live in make-shift camps around the city. With no access to food, healthcare, education or work opportunities, he witnessed thousands spiral into unimaginable poverty. To hear his inspired story, please watch the origin story below.

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New York State Female Entrepreneur of 2020

Alexis McSween, Founder and CEO, Bottom Line Construction and Development LLC, received terrific news in early March for her decades-long crusade in building affordable housing in her Harlem community.

Through a two-year entrepreneurship and leadership program offered by the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center, she was nominated and awarded New York State’s 2020 Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

McSween is a role model and mentor to everyone she meets.

She experienced bouts of homelessness as a teenager. Making ends meet as a livery driver, she drove a friend to an EMT exam. At the suggestion of her friend, she took the exam. She was accepted. That experience, and years of hard work, put her on the path to become a registered nurse and a homeowner.

After years of nursing and renovating homes on the side, she dove into construction full time with a focus on providing affordable housing in her community.

The video below highlights McSween’s exceptional leadership skills and the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center. It was completed March 13, the day New York City ordered many non-essential workers to “shelter-in-place”.

Alexis McSween, CEO & Founder, Bottom Line Construction & Development

Former Eritrean Taxi Driver Turns Her Successful Restaurant Over To Her Sons

Almaz Ghebrezgabher, Co-Owner, Massawa Restaurant, is feeling a great sense of relief.  After 30 years of cooking and managing the East African, Massawa Restaurant, with her husband, Amanuel Tekeste, she is expanding the restaurant, and turning the business over to her four children.

She has trouble articulating her happiness and feelings of accomplishment but when we watch her on the video, we share in her joy.

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Crain’s New York Business Perfect Pitch Competition: Six Months Later

Six months ago we watched 13 entrepreneurs pitch their startup idea to three seasoned journalists from Crain’s New York Business.  The winner was Ally Downey, CEO and Co-Founder of weeSpring with runners-up, and Try The World.  We recently caught up with them to find out how they are doing since the competition.

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