ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — August is National Black Business Month. It is an opportunity to highlight and support Black-owned businesses.
10 Tampa Bay had A Frank Conversation with a team of ladies who are entrepreneurs. The tandem invited students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to learn from them.
Rebekah Ratliff and Ngozi Nnaji cofounded a non-profit incubator, called HBCU IMPACT. Rebekah and Ngozi are helping students earn their insurance licenses.
“What people don’t talk about is the impact that insurance can have on the wealth of generation in closing the racial wealth gap. That’s what we need to be talking about. That’s how we educate our next generation, to not only use it as a tool but be a part of something bigger by being in the industry,” Nnaji said.
Nnaji has been involved in the insurance business for 25 years.
“You happen to create this support system for yourself. This network. The beauty around The Aunties, we know these students are coming from HBCUs, where they have been embedded in Black excellence. So, when they get to corporate America, that world looks very different,” Nnaji said.
“It’s about putting people in place like us, the aunties that can say, ‘hey, I’m checking in on you. What’s going on? Are you doing what you’re supposed to be doing? The success story is 10 years down the road when they become the next hundred Black executives.”
Marlon Taylor, a student at Morehouse College, participated in the program. The Aunties helped Taylor earn his license.
“To have people that not only look like you, but to are more invested in your future than maybe even yourself,” Taylor said. “I’ve seen what this can do for other people, and I’m just excited. If you can do it, it can do it. Maybe even better. And history has shown that we are as a culture, just amazing people.”
“This is necessary because the insurance is underrepresented. There is a lack of diversity in the insurance industry, like in other industries. Like law, like across other segments,” Ratliff said. “Black and Brown people bring a special cultural diversity, diverse thought, diverse skillsets to any opportunity to any space that they are in. so that lack of diversity is cheating out any industry.”
To learn more about HBCU IMPACT, visit hbcuimpact.org.