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Milwaukee Bucks, MadREP and others team up to support Black entrepreneurs in Wisconsin
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Milwaukee Bucks, MadREP and others team up to support Black entrepreneurs in Wisconsin


The Milwaukee Bucks are partnering with a national nonprofit to provide support to Black entrepreneurs in Wisconsin.

Because of contributions from the NBA team, Black entrepreneurs in the state and across the country can sign up for a yearlong membership to the Black Entrepreneur Initiative from The Lonely Entrepreneur, a New York-based nonprofit aimed at empowering and supporting entrepreneurs, the team announced Tuesday.

“We’re thrilled to partner with The Lonely Entrepreneur to help advance its Black Entrepreneur Initiative nationwide and here in Wisconsin,” Arvind Gopalratnam, Milwaukee Bucks vice president of corporate social responsibility, said in a statement. “TLE’s entrepreneurial platform is a fantastic resource for aspiring business owners, and we’re hoping to extend it to as many Black entrepreneurs as we can.”

Through the program, entrepreneurs can access educational modules relating to business and personal problems, templates of necessary business forms and vendor reviews and discounts. They can take part in group coaching sessions and a discussion board with other Black entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs can sign up for the year’s worth of support and educational programming at Free signups close Jan. 20.

The Madison Region Economic Partnership, as well as MKE Black and the Milwaukee Chapter of the National Black MBA Association, will also receive access to these programs for members of those organizations.

Stepping out

The partnership is the first big initiative launched by MadREP CEO Jason Fields since he took the helm of the organization this year. Fields said the staff at MadREP told him racial equity was a high priority for each of them, and Fields felt the same, particularly following the civil unrest over racial disparities and police brutality over the summer.

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“I wanted to make sure that we were all doing our part to really help change the paradigm and the story and really get entrepreneurs the tools and things they need in order to be successful,” Fields said.

Through MadREP’s partnership, entrepreneurs can still access much of The Lonely Entrepreneur’s programming for the Black Entrepreneur Initiative, even if they miss the signup period, Fields said.

“Having The Lonely Entrepreneur and the Black Entrepreneur Initiative gives those entrepreneurs a one-stop shop to go to belong to a community and culture, nationally, where they can see what’s happening with other entrepreneurs, they can learn at their own pace,” Fields said.

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Role models

Fields said access to these programs can help Black entrepreneurs succeed in launching or establishing their businesses, and that, in turn, can lead to those same entrepreneurs giving back to their own communities.

Fields said people who are Black, like himself, face burdens and barriers white entrepreneurs may not, such as biases in borrowing from banks or securing investment dollars. They also may not have the social and business connections other entrepreneurs have, and the program can help them build more connections.

Supporting more Black entrepreneurs and helping them succeed can also create more role models for children. Fields said children often see opportunity in the entertainers or athletes they watch, but seeing Black entrepreneurs can also inspire children toward different career paths.

“When we can put on display African American entrepreneurs, it’s just more and more innovation and excitement for our children to see they can become the next CEO, they can become the next Fortune 500 leader, they can become the next vice president,” Fields said. “We’re empowering all these entrepreneurs to not just affect their own personal lives, but to empower and uplift the entire community.”

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