Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Jice Johnson, the founder and CVO of Black Business Initiative. Let’s learn what’s happening at Black Business Initiative and how Jice is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Jice! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through the Black Business Initiative?
Jice: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Our mission is to transform potential into prosperity by equipping Black entrepreneurs, professionals, and leaders with cutting-edge tools and knowledge. We're fostering a future where the black community thrives through increased agency, ownership, and collective power.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Jice: At the time I started this business, there weren't any organizations that were dedicated to building the capacity of black entrepreneurs. So I stepped in and started building a community that has been able to touch several organizations that continue to carry on the work I started. I continue because one of my highest values is legacy and until we have equitable systems that my children can access, I will continue to push for equitable outcomes.
Spiffy: How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Jice: Our organization helps to bring awareness to the disparities in funding and contracting for black businesses. We work with businesses to help better position them for contracts or capital, and we work with other groups to help change policy that can help improve these outcomes.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?
Jice: Over the last four years, the Black Business Initiative has worked on a three-part project to launch three institutions that can house, grow, and redistribute resources within the black community. These institutions serve as more than non-profit organizations, they are positioned to be pillars in the community that facilitate social and economic agency. We launched one in 2021, one in 2022 and in July of 2023, we launched the third and final institution in that vision; the Economic Development Association for Black Communities.
Spiffy: Tell me about an inspiring startup that your organization has helped to advance its impact.
Jice: SYIG Consulting Firm was an organization that helps small businesses with their operational and growth strategy. Not only has this company been able to use our programming to help build their capacity and strengthen their organization, we loved their work so much we were able to give them their largest contract to work with our small businesses. This allowed them to leave their full time job and work in their business full time. They have been seeing steady growth ever since. We're so proud of all they've accomplished and they've become an amazing asset and partner to our work.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Jice—it’s been an honor!
Jice Johnson, a dedicated U.S. army veteran and astute businesswoman, is the visionary founder and chief visionary officer of the Black Business Initiative. Her life's mission revolves around building a strong economic foundation in the black community, advocating for and empowering Black entrepreneurs, leaders, and professionals to secure an intergenerational stake in economic equity and liberation. (Nominated by Josef Scarantino from Hubspot Ventures. First published on the Ladderworks website on January 26, 2024.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Daniela Vega. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.