On Wednesday, February 6th, we went to the Rotunda in Cleveland City Hall for a Black History Month event in which two entrepreneurs were honored for building successful businesses that have enriched the Cleveland community. The program began with some words by Ms. Sonya Shakir, Program Coordinator at Burton, Bar, and Carr Development, who reminded us that African-Americans have been business-owners since the 18th century. Ms. Shakir was followed by the Reverend Grady Stevenson, Director of the Cleveland Community Relations Board, quoted Mayor Frank G. Jackson as saying that small businesses are the key to building a great economy. Then Ms. Shelley Shockley, Marketing Manager of Cleveland Public Power, maintained that it was very important that we supports our local businesses because dollars spent there are regenerated back into the Cleveland economy.
The first person to be honored was Mr. Delmar Yarborough, the owner of Wolf’s Den which is a bar and grill on Cedar Road in Cleveland. Mr. Yarborough recalled that he founded his establishment some 21 years ago after being discharged from his previous job due to downsizing. He was very proud of his accomplishment because Wolf’s Den is a great place for older folks to frequent in order to to relax, visit with friends, have a meal, and listen to some jazz. Yet young people seem to enjoy it too, and over the years Mr. Yarborough has witnessed the oldsters teaching the youngsters some manners from time to time.
The second person to be honored was Mr. Akil Hameed, the founder of FASS Real Estate Services on Lee Road in Shaker Heights who echoed Mr. Yarborough when he said that he, too, was motivated to launch his own enterprise after losing his a job back in 2007. He talked about it took a while to get past his own misperceptions (i.e. hire other people to do the work for you) but fortunately he had entrepreneurs within his own family who mentored him through the process.
Mr. Hameed went on to say, “I learned that being smart and wise in business is one sure way to stay in operation. I realized that to be successful was going to require me to put in the work, and it wasn’t going to be easy!”
He then quoted “a notable historian” named Frederick Douglass who said, “if there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
Mr. Hameed credited his association with Business Networking International as being vital in helping him develop the necessary contacts to helping FASS Real Estate Services really take off and today it is the largest African-American owned brokerage in Northeast Ohio and that he and those who work with him “strive to create new opportunities through diversity initiatives that will change the landscape for those who come behind us.”
Mr. Hameed also contended that for himself, “success is measured not by the amount of money you make, but the impact you have been able to make on those around you.”
After Mr. Hammeed concluded his remarks, Ms. Shockley commented, “that’s a powerful young man, wouldn’t you say?”