“We decided early on that if there wasn’t a seat at the table, it was time to build our own table. After building our own we were compelled to give back. In the first year of Seasoned Gives we empowered a community of over one hundred BIPOC and women entrepreneurs to do the same.”Tamika and Martin Dunkley, Founders of Seasoned Gives
Seasoned Gives is a 501(c)(3) organization located in the vibrant and rapidly transforming city of Kingston, New York. Our mission is simple, yet revolutionary: educate, incubate and promote entrepreneurship for the BIPOC community and women. At the heart of Seasoned Gives is the steadfast belief that economic justice is an essential--and often overlooked--piece of the social justice movement.
The genesis of Seasoned Gives is deeply rooted in founders Tamika and Martin Dunkley’s own experience as BIPOC entrepreneurs. Both Tamika and Martin experienced homelessness at an early age and faced all too common adversity in achieving financial stability through entrepreneurship. After respective careers in nursing and various entrepreneurial endeavors, the pair founded Seasoned Delicious Foods, a Caribbean fusion cafe and BIPOC grocery in the food desert of Midtown Kingston. As they built their success, they faced challenges that they now seek to address for others by mentoring marginalized entrepreneurs in the areas of financial literacy, making and maintaining connections as well as providing examples of success within the community and addressing food scarcity. These areas are referred to as human, financial and social capital in the 2019 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Report entitled, The State of Black Entrepreneurship in America.
The benefits of entrepreneurship within the BIPOC community are clear. According to the Survey of Business owners, the existing number of black-owned businesses have created over 1 million jobs and over $165 billion in revenue. Entrepreneurship offers the BIPOC community opportunity for rapid economic advancement compared to traditional employment. The wealth differential is 12 times higher between BIPOC business owners and nonbusiness owners.
However, aspiring BIPOC entrepreneurs have historically experienced lack of support, information, assistance and opportunity. Being excluded from funding and equitable opportunities has habitually devastated the lifespan of black businesses. If we look to history, despite promises made to formerly enslaved people of color, there have never been reparations for the wealth extracted from stolen land or attempts to close the significant gap left by the hundreds of years of inequality. The lack of ownership is critical to understanding the unfortunate economic disparity that has haunted and continues to hurt black America making it harder to build wealth and pass it down to future generations. The bottom line is that due to the long history of oppression and segregation, BIPOC communities simply do not have the same access to personal capital or funding through their social networks. Studies show that white founders report leaning on friends and family for extra cash to start their business whereas this is not common for BIPOC founders. According to The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, while white families in the U.S. have an average net worth of $171,000, Black families have an average net worth of $17,600.
The current pandemic has only amplified the disparity between BIPOC and white entrepreneurs. A recent North Carolina University study showed that over 40% of black-owned businesses closed within the first few months of COVID while only 17% of white owned businesses closed up shop.
And female entrepreneurs have not fared much better. In a recent study of over 300 businesses by Shopify the data was clear that women have a harder time getting funding from traditional sources like banks and as a result, their businesses earned less revenue on average. Of the $87.3 billion dollars of available venture capital funding, only 0.64% goes to black women founders, despite representing the fastest growing demographic.
Seasoned Gives supports ownership and equity for communities of color and women through one-on-one mentorship with successful, seasoned BIPOC and female entrepreneurs. Through our comprehensive programming and support systems, Seasoned Gives is committed to providing equitable opportunities for communities that typically lack access to the information and contacts that they need to create and scale their business ideas due to long standing socio-economic racism. Access to funds is one of the major barriers cited by BIPOC and women entrepreneurs to starting a business. To meet this need, Seasoned Gives is working towards offering loans at small interest rates to entrepreneurs with an option to repay the loan in sweat equity. Additionally, as a commitment to both supporting the needs of aspiring entrepreneurs as well as the surrounding community, Seasoned Gives addresses food scarcity by providing food when needed. In 2020, over 10,000 pounds of food and over 8,500 prepared meals were provided via Support Your Neighbor and the Seasoned Evolution Center will serve as a donated food distribution center. We’ve seen first hand how crucial it is to consider the entire picture of entrepreneurship which includes food security and are committed to impacting not just the entrepreneur - but the entire community that holds them.
In the first year alone, Seasoned Gives has had a profound impact, facilitating financial literacy programming through our online presence that reached over 10,000, assisting 75 businesses in securing funding and infusing 28 jobs into the Hudson Valley. 93% of the adults and 92% of youths who completed the mentorship program have gone on to establish their own businesses and 97% of program participants who were looking to achieve ownership equity and due process achieved their desired outcomes.
The Seasoned Evolution Center, opening on May 1st, 2021, is a first of its kind. Focusing on BIPOC and female entrepreneurs, the Seasoned Evolution center will be the hub of Seasoned Gives offerings of entrepreneur mentorship, literacy classes, co-working space, meeting rooms, event space, co-packing capacity, commercial community kitchen that can host up to five entrepreneurs simultaneously, and onsite childcare with the sum total effect of uplifting and empowering entrepreneurs who have historically been denied access to the benefits of entrepreneurial ownership.