Join us as we celebrate the fourth principle of Kwanzaa, Ujamaa, with an evening of networking and conversation around shared work and wealth. Participants will discuss the importance of small business and entrepreneurship within in Charlotte communities and next steps to expand opportunities throughout the city.

Doors open at 6:00 PM. The panel discussion begins at 6:30 PM.

About The Moderator

Lashawnda Becoats created her own path in life. She started her career as an editorial assistant at The Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, NY. After moving from New York to Charlotte, she spent 11 years as a graphic designer in The Charlotte Observer’s prepress department.

In 2009, she became the style editor for Qcitymetro.com, a news website catering to African-Americans in the Charlotte region. Becoats was a creative force at Qcitymetro.com capturing entertainment and lifestyle stories of African- Americans in Charlotte. In 2011, Becoats was named the Charlotte editor for Uptown Magazine based in New York City. At Uptown she exposed Charlotte’s African-American communities to national audiences by inspiring readers to escape their comfort zones and fully experience the city. In 2014 she became editor-in-chief of Pride magazine, an African-American publication that has been in Charlotte for over 20 years. Her work has appeared in Uptown magazine, The Charlotte Observer and on NPR.

She is the founder of Run Toward Your Life, a life-coaching brand that motivates and empowers women to understand their value in today’s society. “Run Toward your Life is about telling the truth about who you are, setting goals and not living your life in fear,” she says.

Seven years ago, Becoats embraced her biggest fear. She decided to rock her prematurely gray hair. “Embracing my own fear and letting go of what people would think about my gray hair has empowered me to understand the beauty comes from the inside and radiates onward. Who cares what color your hair is? I want to know “What type of person are you what are you doing to help others?” she says. “I proudly embrace my gray hair and in doing so it has changed my life.”

Despite her hectic work schedule she finds time to live life for a living. She is passionate about traveling the world, art, and eating delicious cuisine. She is the proud mother of three adult children and her dog son, Louis Vuitton. She enjoys sharing her experiences on Instagram and her website www.runtowardyourlife.com.

About The Panelists

Enovia Bedford serves as a Business Development Officer for Carolina Small Business Development fund in Charlotte. Thriving in a startup environment, Enovia’s entrepreneurial approach to business has led to a successful twelve-year career in creative fields. Enovia left her corporate position and began a career as a marketing strategist. Working with various tech clients, the deficit in funding businesses owned by African Americans was all too apparent This led to her next career move as the North Carolina Regional Manager of Funding Post. Through this role Enovia planned events for entrepreneurs to receive funding from VC’s and Angel investors representing over $108 billion in assets. Currently her portfolio of funding clients in Charlotte include tech, beauty, transportation and marketing companies. She is also the VP of Strategic Brand Partnerships & Sponsorship and co-founder of BLKTECHCLT.

Charlotte-based artist Marcus Kiser is a graphic designer and illustrator whose work draws inspiration from a range of sources including classical art, comic books, graffiti and current social and political issues. A self-identified sci-fi nerd, he uses space and futuristic themes to tell a story of tolerance in racial tensions and to demonstrate sensitivity and empathy. Kiser's work draws inspiration from a range of sources including classical art, comic books, graffiti, and current social and political issues. He is a graduate of the Art Institute, was a founding member of GodCity Studios, and has been a graphic designer and illustrator for 13 years. In 2015, Kiser and his creative collaborator Jason Woodberry debuted their exhibition Intergalactic Soul at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. The exhibition, which has gained international acclaim, addresses issues of racism, injustice, segregation, and mis-education through the layered lens of history, Afro-Futurism, and science fiction.

Congolese-American, Eric B. Ndelo, commonly known as "Ndelo", was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from North Carolina State University (NCSU) with degrees in Digital Media Production and Electrical Engineering. Shortly thereafter he and his Troop of Gorillas launched their apparel enterprise. Ndelo rebranded DRC ApeParel, LTD. and MacFly Fresh Printing Co. in 2012. DRC ApeParel, the global-street-culture brand represents his love for culture and streetwear, while MacFly Fresh connects his love for art, design and screen-printing. The new creative space headquarters will be opening in Camp North End in Q2 of 2019.

Taj Polite is an accountant by trade that has made the leap in to the art world seeing a chance to lend business acumen to creative professionals. After twenty years of straddling the fence between corporate America and serial entrepreneur, Taj struck out to lead business development for MacFly Fresh Printing Co. and DRC ApeParel. With degrees in Finance and Accounting and a breadth of experience in many industries, Taj has also begun mentoring younger creatives, showing them the path to monetizing their passions.

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