Asset Management Venture
Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson and Deutsche Asset Management (DeAM), a division of Deutsche Bank AG, will form an asset management company to provide investment products and services to public and private pension funds and other institutional investors. The RLJ Companies, Johnson’s holding company, will form the new company with the goal of becoming the largest asset management company owned, controlled and directed by African-Americans. DeAM will be a minority investor and will provide investment strategies and expertise for the venture.
Black-owned BREEJ Technologies Inc., of Lowell, Mass., struck a deal with CVS/pharmacy to distribute its second-generation shaving bump products
for the difficult-to-treat “back of the neck/head” bumps; severe facial bumps/ingrown hairs; and damaged/darkened skin that usually results from shaving bumps. The BUMP ZAPPER Severe Bumps Kit and Skin Repair & Brightening Cream are now sold at 680 ethnic CVS/pharmacy stores throughout the United States and online at CVS.com. Shaving bumps, also referred to as ingrown hairs, pseudofolliculitis barbae or pfb, plague over 10 million men of color in the United States.
The American Small Business League filed suit in federal court against the U.S. Small Business Administration under the Freedom of Information Act for the release of documents detailing hundreds of contracting protests filed against large firms falsely claiming to be small businesses. Government investigations and private studies show that billions in federal small business contracts wound up in the hands of major corporations. Falsely claiming to be a small business in order to receive a federal small business contract is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Proposed legislation, H.R. 4474, the Minority-Owned Venture Empow-erment (MOVE) Act, seeks to refocus SBA’s 8(a) Minority Business Develop-ment Program to ensure that companies are more likely to receive contracts. The bill divides the program into four phases: technical assistance, developmental, transitional and post-8(a), and modifies the current net worth restriction on 8(a) business owners to ensure greater participation in the program by minority-owned small businesses. It also extends the maximum limit of participation in the program from nine to 10 years and raises the limit on sole-source contracts to $6 million from $3 million and on competitive contracts to $10 million from $5 million, respectively, and replaces the requirement that businesses must have been operating for at least two years to participate with an initial training period to ensure businesses are properly prepared to do business in the federal market.
Publishing and Internet entrepreneur Reginald Ware launched BlackDoctor.org to help African-Americans locate an African-American physician, read about relevant African-American health issues and find information on healthy lifestyle options. Ware, who founded the African-American healthy lifestyle publication Heart & Soul, in the mid-1990s, said the timing is right for the site because African-Americans are the fastest-growing segment of Internet users.
Ethnic Plastic Surgery
Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 20 percent of all cosmetic procedures performed in 2004, an increase from 14 percent in 2000, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Hispanics again led minority racial and ethnic groups in the number of procedures at 8.5 percent, followed by African-Americans, 6.2 percent; Asians, 4.6 percent; and other non-Caucasians at 1.1 percent. Experts attribute the increase to new procedures, such as techniques to minimize scarring, as well as training in treating ethnic populations, who previously were afraid to try many procedures.
Women and Minority Directors
More women executives held seats on the boards of U.S. service firms in 2005 than in the previous five years, but their numbers have declined from 2004 in manufacturing and financial services, The Conference Board says. Of the manufacturing companies surveyed, 73 percent have women directors against 77 percent in 2004 and 65 percent in 2003. Among financial services companies, 69 percent have women directors, against 76 percent in 2004 and 72 percent in 2003. In the service firms, 80 percent have women directors, up from 77 percent in 2004 and 72 percent in 2003.
GlaxoSmithKline is donating $500,000 to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation over five years to spur growth among small disadvan-taged businesses (SDBs). A joint Supplier Business Initiative Advisory Council will direct the project, which will include a study of existing U.S. policy designed to encourage success among these businesses. The study will identify barriers to the meaningful participation of SDBs in the Small Business Administration’s certification program and to determine if policy and regulatory reforms are needed to remove those barriers.
Bible in Gullah
More than a quarter of a century after the work began, the New Testament has been translated into Gullah, the Creole language spoken by slaves and their descendants along the sea islands of the U.S. Southeast. As an example, the verse John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God,’’ was translated to read, “Fo God mek de wol, de Wod been dey. De Wod been dey wid God, an de Wod been God. —De Good Nyews Bout Jedus Christ Wa John Write 1:1.’’ De Nyew Testament, published by the American Bible Society, is laid out with an English translation in the margins.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas elected its first Black president and announced plans to increase minority representation on its executive board. The Rev. Michael Bell, 54, senior pastor at Greater St. Stephen Baptist Church in Fort Worth, overwhelmingly defeated the Rev. Rick Davis,
a Brownwood pastor, in a ballot vote. Bell succeeds Albert Reyes, the organization’s first Hispanic president. Convention officials want to increase minority representation on the conference’s executive board from 15 percent to 30 percent. About 12 percent of the convention’s 2.5 million members are Black.
Math and Science
West Virginia University will use a $1.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help encourage women and minorities to enroll in math, science and computer courses through the Engineers of Tomorrow program. National statistics show that just 21 percent of engineering students are women and only 5 percent are Black. The rates are lower in predominantly white West Virginia. WVU also will offer a summer program with in-tensive instruction for 80 to 100 minority and female high school students. The WVU Institute of Technology in Montgomery is also participating in the program.
The U.S. Justice Department says Chicago’s school system has not sufficiently shown that it has integrated Black and Hispanic students and should not be released from a federal desegregation plan. Chicago is the nation’s third largest school district with 431,000 students. Nearly half of the district’s
students are Black and 38 percent are Hispanic. Justice also said the district needs to do more to give students learning English a chance to enroll in special programs and to give academic help to students in racially isolated schools. A federal judge will hold hearings in May to re-examine the plan.
Insurance for Farmers
The World Bank identified Malawi as the first African country to pilot an insurance project for small-holder farmers whose harvests are affected by drought. The program, which will run during Malawi’s current cropping season, will involve about 900 groundnut farmers and will scale up to other areas and other countries in Africa, depending on its success. The bank is implementing the program jointly with the National Smallholder Farmer’s Association of Malawi, the Insurance Association of Malawi and the Opportunity International Network.