BE Modern Man - BE 100: Rich Akwo
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Name: Rich Akwo

Age: 33

Profession: Social Entrepreneur / Philanthropist

One Word That Describes You: Relentless

What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?

Being nominated is an amazing honor; I am humbled and quite shocked. When I received the email from Daron Pressley, it caught me by surprise. I had just finished meditating about the power of your name and reputation having the power to influence people and decision makers to say yes to your requests, and then I saw the email in my inbox. It confirmed to me that this was a sign from God about the doors that will open in my favor.

This nomination reminds me that people are always watching and are being inspired daily by the work I do and the passion with which I do it with. Never do I go seeking recognition for what I do. But, when you are recognized on a great platform like BE Modern Man, it tells you that people think very highly of you and admire your work. I’m thankful to share this platform with other distinguished men of color who are doing amazing things to impact the world.

What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?

In 2007, I suffered a severe financial setback. I was out of work and homeless. I foreclosed on three investment properties and was left with over $700,000 in debt. This by far was the toughest challenge in my life, but it was also one of the biggest blessings as well. With my back against the wall and determination to never give up, I used the last $200 in my pocket to start a house cleaning business.  Let’s just say, this is the best investment I ever made!

Today, Nuvision Cleaning Systems is one the top cleaning companies in Baltimore. I’ve been able to create job opportunities for many families with the success of this business. The company’s success has also allowed me to launch another company called ALL IS WELL – INSPIRE, an apparel and accessories company with a mission to spread positivity and optimism throughout the world. ALL IS WELL – INSPIRE is a responsible company that uses 10% of each item sold to bring clean water to people in need.

What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?

  1. Good character: I always believe that good character is next to godliness. In every relationship, the character of the people who surround you says a lot about who you are. A person’s character precedes them. If you are not of good character, it is hard to build a loving and trusting relationship with you.
  2. Dependability: It is very important that I can depend on you and count on you to show up and play your role. As a manager of people and teams, I need to be able to count on everyone to show up and do their part. If everyone does that part, we all win. The more you show that you are dependable, the more I trust you.

What are some immediate projects you are working on?

I am the founder and executive director of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization called Generosity: Global, with a mission to bring clean drinking water to rural villages in need in Sub-Saharan Africa and provide housing for the homeless in Baltimore.

The global water crisis is huge, and I am very passionate about bringing clean water to as many people as possible. At the moment, my team and I are planning our annual fundraising gala, Mission Ball 2016, on September 24. This gala is designed to highlight our work in Cameroon, Africa and raise as much money as possible to implement more water, hygiene, and sanitation projects in Africa.

Generosity Global Inc. has also recently launched a capital campaign to raise money to build innovative tiny homes for the homeless. Having a small place that you can call home and have peace of mind is the first step towards recovery. By combining housing and ongoing support, our goal is to take people out of homelessness and restore them to being active members of our communities.

Finally, I am preparing to launch a social networking app that will help spread happiness around the world called All Is Well Moment. An “all is well moment” is a simple life moment that makes your heart smile and brings you happiness.  The app is designed to help you be mindful and present, appreciating the small moments in life that matter.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Be bold, take risks, dream big, and do not be afraid to pursue revolutionary ideas. In everything you do, always start with the end in mind. When you approach goals, missions, and projects from this mindset, it helps you take the right action steps to ensure that you are successful in whatever activity you undertake.

What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with only the first step. Take that step today, not tomorrow. Until you take that step, nothing happens. Go for it. You don’t need permission from anyone to pursue your passion and to make an impact in this world.

Many people are so afraid to step out and do things. Most are paralyzed simply because they give up control of their God-given power to other people, waiting for someone to come tell them that it is okay to do something. My advice is to always follow your heart and be relentless in your pursuit. Have a strong enough “why” that will make you cry. Let your “why” be your reason for living, because it will give you the fuel you need to be successful and impact lives.

How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?

I take time to meditate and visualize success; I see the meeting or event in my mind before it happens. I start by keeping a particular outcome I desire in mind, and focus on that outcome. The mental part is the most important part, because it always prepares my mind to be ready for battle.

As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.

Another saying I live by is this: when you are at work, be at work. When you are on vacation, be on vacation. I work very hard each day to go after my dreams. I always give it my all when I am in the field, so when it comes time for vacation I have learned to suspend work and be very present with my family to give them all of me. Apart from maybe responding to high-priority emails, I usually shut down my connection to the digital world.

My wife and I recently traveled to Costa Rica, and I must say it was one of the best vacations we’ve ever taken together. We were completely present with each other and enjoyed the beauty of God. Visiting the countryside and interacting with the locals to learn about the culture and the people was great, and just lying on the beach all day with no worries in the world was awesome!

If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? 

Tibet. I want to stay in the same compound as the Dalai Lama. This man’s books and teachings have taught me so much about life. He is a great ocean of wisdom, and I would love to be in his presence to learn from him.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you! I am very grateful for this opportunity to be featured.  My prayer is that others are inspired by my passion, courage, and work, and that they will make a commitment to go after their dreams no matter what.

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