DIFFvelopment: the Art of Collective Black Entrepreneurship
BY JEAN NASH WELLS
Photos: Kaddu Photography
IFFvelopment is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization, based in Montclair, NJ. Its founders, a husband and wife team, Esi Kagale Agyeman and Peter Markeeo Gillo, are committed to addressing underemployment within the global professional black community through culturally specific entrepreneurial and financial education. With its mission of “re-empowering people of African descent one student at a time,” DIFFvelopment offers the global black community a series of dynamic events, a free online resource center, and a unique internship opportunity for black college students. Through their internship program, interns learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship through class instruction and lecture series sessions, while providing free professionally supervised consulting services to small-businesses. DIFFvelopment is currently working with independent restaurants. Villalobos, Vital, Bluff City, and Health Love & Soul Juice Bar & Grill have agreed to participate. The program begins in May.
On February 24, 2017, Esi and Peter celebrated the official launch of DIFFvelopment, hosting an exciting event, DIFFveloping the Art of Collective Black Entrepreneurship, at 18 Label Studios in Montclair. Dedicated to supporting unique small businesses through DIFFvelopment, Esi and Peter crafted an impressive line-up of first-rate black creative work for sale—art by Mario Moore and Kamil Peters, and fashion and lifestyle products by BLK MKT Vintage, Entrepreneur Label, and ZingaZow. The elegant, soulful Caribbean hors’ d'oeuvres by Chef Kimberly Boyce of Heart N’ Soul Catering were a hit. Arinze Onugha, real estate investor, musician, attorney and DIFFvelopment board member, delivered a powerful keynote address. The evening culminated with an impeccably mixed afrobeat, hip hop and reggae celebration of Africana music and culture dance party with music by DJ Clein. For more information about DIFFvelopment, visit www.diffvelopment.org.
CAPTIONS: 1. Esi and Peter Gillo, DIFFvelopment co-founders; 2. Andrew Musoke, DIFFvelopment Board Member; 3. Kelly Thomas, foundress of Black Arts Retreat and Artist Mario Moore; 4. Keynote Speaker Arinze Onugha, DIFFvelopment Board Member and Esi Gillo, DIFFvelopment co-founder; 5. L-R: Imani Darden; Afyia Shani Williams; Stephanie Ari Burrell, Worthy
Beings founder; Etecia Brown, letthemflourish founder; and Dominique Turner, Dominique Turner Videography founder ; 6. Randell Jette, Shaquille Taylor, Peter Gillo, and Christopher Sulé Young, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. members; 7. Kiyanna Stewart and Jannah Handy, BLK MKT Vintage co-founders
16 14 The Positive Community
April2017 2017 April