Money Maker Monday: a talk on disseminating economic power to the black community

Ryan Poon / Highlander

In honor of Black History Month, African Student Programs (ASP) is hosting events all throughout February for students to learn more about the culture. The starting cannon event for Black History Month at UCR was Money Maker Monday: Entrepreneurship & Side Hustles, held on Monday, Feb. 3 from 12 to 1:30 p.m. at HUB 367. 

The event was hosted by a recently created club on campus called Blacks Rising in Domestic and Global Entrepreneurship (BRIDGE) whose goal is to “not only have students dedicated to their studies but also developing an interest in having something (a business) on the side,” said Semee Mengush, co-founder of BRIDGE and fourth-year political science major. He added, “We are trying to be the medium in which conversation can be had about things related to business development, business literacy and just understanding the mechanisms within them … trying to be the translator between the sort of language that (business entrepreneurship) is in.”

The event was of sparse attendance, only a crowd of five, but it didn’t deter BRIDGE’s enthusiasm. The presenters and co-founders, Mengush and Halle Sam-Boudreau, a fourth-year  economics and marketing major, started the event off with an icebreaker of rock paper scissors before beginning their presentation. It started off with a video about how the old way of earning money wasn’t going to work for the current generation. BRIDGE furthered the discussion by stating that, with the advancement of technology, students can now make money through side hustles. A side hustle is essentially a job a person takes on out of passion, alongside a main one.

They then segued into a conversation about the importance of side hustles and entrepreneurship. BRIDGE showed a TED Talk called “My Black Year.” The speaker Maggie Anderson, CEO and co-founder of The Empowerment Experiment, introduced a lesser known kind of civil rights that Martin Luther King Jr. fought for: the regaining of economic and business power. “After slavery, more and more black towns became self sustaining, until integration or until they were burned down by racists,” Anderson explained. “We had economic power when we were politically disenfranchised, we took that economic power for granted because we needed to fight for our civil rights; now we’re politically free but economically insignificant. That’s a tough trade-off to make.”

After that video Mengush asked, “What are some of the hurdles that are in the way when it comes to taking social capital and utilizing that to combat this economic injustice?” Shane, a fourth-year political science major answered, “I feel like a lot of people don’t have the information they need. I feel like they have an idea they come up with something. They don’t realize the gravity of what they’ve done.”

Shane recalled the girl that coined the phrase “on fleek,” slang for “flawless,” as an example. “At first she didn’t have any of the business acumen to get trademarked so there were hella companies out there using that on their product. Then she realized, ‘Oh, I have a gold mine here’ and then she got all the legal documents to say ‘This is mine, if you want to use it you have to pay for it.’” 

After the conversation BRIDGE introduced campus resources that shared the organization’s goals, such as LaunchPad Blackstone, an organization that meets every Tuesday from 12 to 2 p.m. at Rivera 144. LaunchPad Blackstone’s purpose is to guide anyone with an entrepreneurial idea or interest by doing one-on-ones and workshops to help make the idea a reality. Another resource they mentioned was icore, which provides funds for market research. 

The recurring theme of the event and philosophy of BRIDGE was noticed by those within the audience, especially Demaje, a community member who sought out the event himself. “I’d be a fool to not take these kinds of classes … being in here really made me wish the room was full of black people because it’s the same information that everybody else has that everybody else is utilizing and getting somewhere.”

BRIDGE’s next event will be a collaboration with LaunchPad Blackstone from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Rivera Library room 140 on Friday, Feb. 14.

To learn more about upcoming events, visit ASP’s office at 133 Costo Hall or their homepage at asp.ucr.edu. For more coverage on the events, visit the Highlander website at highlandernews.org.

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