Follow Diane Twitter Facebook
Email Diane Email
Education
Oct 15, 2020

In The (New) Beginning…Genesis Block

Sponsored Content provided by Diane Durance - Director, UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Our ever-growing community of entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them is richer by one. Only a few months old – and started during the Pandemic – Genesis Block is a welcome addition to our thriving ecosystem. It serves a critical unmet need, serving the underserved. Members of the Coalition (a collaboration of not-for-profit organizations helping entrepreneurs) are especially excited to welcome this organization to the mix. We see the need.
 
Genesis Block is on a mission to “Build the Entrepreneur Class Block by Block.” They accomplish this mission three ways:

- a downtown coworking space, including private offices, open workspaces, meeting rooms and networking spaces – long a desired contribution to downtown.

- the Genesis Block Entrepreneur Academy to support early stage entrepreneurs and business owners.

- and finally, Back on the Block Minority Accelerator, which provides resources for underserved entrepreneurs – women and people of color primarily.
 
Think we don’t need this? Think again. Forbes tells us that over 40% of black-owned small businesses have shuttered their doors due to COVID. Female-owned firms were almost 6 percentage points more likely to be closed due to COVID-19 than male-owned firms, according to a McKinsey report. The underserved are being hit harder than anyone. And yet, our one-size-fits-all approach to entrepreneurial help may not work well for women and minority-owned startups.
 
Before starting Genesis Block with his wife Tracey (who in addition to being an entrepreneur also heads up the African American Business Council for the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce), Girard Newkirk was admitted to The Google for Startups accelerator. Specifically for Black Founders, he came away inspired – and has been re-admitted for another three month, Seed-to-Series A program for technology startups. When he learned is that there’s a different set of skills, different set of needs to be addressed in these underserved groups.
 
“There aren’t mature ecosystems that specifically speak to minorities and women owned entrepreneurs,” Newkirk has commented to me. “So many social elements feel uninviting. That makes it hard to build the relationships needed, and even harder to tap into the systems in place. We make it inviting. We help monitories and women to climb the ladder with eduction and networks that help them build a successful business.”
 
Consider this trend as a whole new look at addressing entrepreneurial needs. In Wilmington, Genesis Block is leading this trend. Elsewhere, others are also opening doors.
 
In North Carolina, NC IDEA has launched the Black Entrepreneurs Council – the NC BEC Ecosystem. They began accepting applications on October 5th and will continue through November 6th. The objective is to address the problems with Black Entrepreneurship in North Carolina.
 
Locally, Genesis Block is collaborating with N.E.W. (Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington) and the CIE on an NC IDEA grant to form a ‘PreCelerator’ program. This will bridge the gap in entrepreneurial support between introductory entrepreneurship programs (like the Brian Hamilton Foundation’s Inmates to Entrepreneurs, SBTDC’s Taking the Leap, the UNCW’s Entrepreneurship for Non-Business Majors) and competitive Accelerators (like TechStars, NC RIoT, and YCombinator) that look for investor-ready ventures. The PreCelerator is designed to provide entrepreneurs with key introductions in the community, first customers, and experiential learning opportunities.
 
Nationally, Shark Tank’s Damond John is spearheading a new event. Called Black Entrepreneurs Day, the October 24th online event brings together business leaders such as BET cofounder Robert Johnson, A-list, second-act entrepreneurs like Shaquille O’Neal, LL Cool J, Gabrielle Union and Jamie Foxx, and investors like Backstage Capital’s Arlan Hamilton.
 
And thanks to Tracey and Girard Newkirk and their work at Genesis Block, we have skin in this game here in Wilmington with much the same mission.
 
COVID has clearly presented a new challenge for us. The Black Lives Matter movement has opened our eyes to change that must occur. Can we create new economic opportunities that are accessible to all? We in the Coalition believe so, and warmly welcome Genesis Block to help us grow and enrich our community.
 
 
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie

Other Posts from Diane Durance

Uncw cie 2018 9251912058
Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Aarp suzanneheadshot 300x300

Resolve To Live Your Life Scam-Free In 2021

Aaeaaqaaaaaaaaidaaaajdhiztrkodm0lte2yjetngrkmy1hotrmltawmdvlmwqyztmymw

Building A Health Care Innovation Certificate: It’s A Team Effort

Diane Durance - UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Drewsmith copiersplus headshot

How To Navigate A Copier Buyout

Drew Smith - Copiers Plus

Trending News

Builder's 10-year Plan Includes Up To 5,000 Homes In Southern Pender

Cece Nunn - Jan 19, 2021

Cameron Art Museum Welcomes New Board Members, Appoints Officers

Christina Haley O'Neal - Jan 19, 2021

Blue Mind Coworking Opening In Wilmington

Johanna Cano - Jan 20, 2021

The Hop Yard Opens Downtown Wilmington Location

Jessica Maurer - Jan 20, 2021

Healthy James Franchise Coming To The Port City

Jessica Maurer - Jan 20, 2021

In The Current Issue

Predictions Mixed For Real Estate

Residential and commercial real estate in the Wilmington area is expected to thrive in certain areas and struggle in others this year....


Local Advisers Share New Year Tips

With the market tumult of 2020 behind us, financial ad­visers are ready to help their clients navigate the possible challenges and opportuni...


Programs Aim To Build Workforce

The construction and IT sectors are the focus of new collab­oratives forming this year to address the area’s workforce develop­ment needs....

Book On Business

The 2020 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

2020 Health Care Heroes
2020 WilmingtonBiz 100