From wealth to diversity, our editors offer an action plan

Black America needs fixing.

invest a portion of pension fund dollars in private equity firms that invest in minority entrepreneurs.

Education and awareness must also be raised. While mom-and-pop enterprises are important and necessary in black communities, more of our businesses must expand the size and scale of their operations. There’s no shortage of viable business ideas within the black community. We must broaden our perspective as well. If you manufacture or sell a product, think globally. Through technology, the world has become a smaller and more accessible place.

Black-on-black partnerships must form more frequently. Those who read our June 2005 issue saw that when Dimensions International Inc.(No. 35 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 with $98.6 million in gross sales) acquired fellow BE 100S firm SENTEL, it positioned the company to compete for larger and more lucrative government IT contracts.

It’s all about size, scope, and economies of scale. Once we have more black companies regularly engaged in such transactions, we’ll see more parity when it comes to employment, homeownership, and political influence. — Alan Hughes

OUR READERS RESPOND: What is the largest obstacle black entrepreneurs must overcome?

  • Obtaining expansion capital: 36.0%
  • Lack of black-on-black business partnerships: 23.3%
  • The economy: 2.0%
  • Lack of high-level business knowledge and experience: 18.0%
  • Too few black businesses positioned in the top growth sectors: 21.0%
In 1990, I remember learning about the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in social studies class. Today, I can only recall the equivalent of two chapters worth of material devoted to the two extraordinary men. We viewed videos of their perilous marches and successful boycotts as well as their subsequent assassinations. I experienced a strong sense of pride mixed with anger and sorrow. Although I admired these men as the “Davids” of their day fighting the dual “Goliaths” of segregation and white supremacy, I did not feel an intimate connection to them. Visionaries such as Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, and Maxine Waters, who came into prominence during BLACK ENTERPRISE’S 35 years, also never inspired me to join their crusades.

Leadership, in my opinion, requires a much more personal exchange. My definition includes someone who touches my life personally, guiding me toward success. When my mother took me to the bank to open my first checking and savings accounts with my own money, I learned the value of a dollar and the importance of saving. When my father stormed into my school to confront the teacher who wanted to place me in special education classes, I learned self-respect and tenacity. And when I chose a mentor, it was someone who provided industry contacts, set up interviews, helped construct my resumé, and listened when I was at a crossroad. True leaders are people in your life who help you develop your full potential. They help you become better. I have never understood the concept of an entire community waiting for a messianic figure — the next Malcolm or Martin — to uplift our race. An abundance of black leaders already exist.

Leadership has become a growing concern among our readers. In a recent blackenterprise.com

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