Spare Change: New Entrepreneurship Effort A Plus For Flagler

By Aaron London The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Leslie Giscombe, founder and CEO of the African American Entrepreneurs Club in Flagler County, is hoping to carve out a niche for African American entrepreneurs.

The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Entrepreneurs are usually looking for a niche to fill. But Leslie Giscombe is hoping to carve out a niche for African American entrepreneurs in Flagler County.

Giscombe, founder and CEO of the African American Entrepreneurs Club, said entrepreneurship has always been a part of his life.

"I grew up in an entrepreneurial home and minoring in entrepreneurship at the University of Florida was second nature to me," he said.

While the African American Entrepreneurship Club is open to all residents, Giscombe said empowering African American entrepreneurs is a main focus.

"When you're an entrepreneur, you don't necessarily see the effects of institutional bias," he said. "I kind of revert back to my entrepreneurship experience and realized truly as an African American, true empowerment really lies within entrepreneurship."

Becoming an entrepreneur has been a "thing" for a while, especially after the Great Recession forced a lot of professionals and skilled workers into the unfamiliar territory of workforce reductions and unemployment. But while necessity may be the mother of invention -- especially when it comes to re-inventing oneself as an entrepreneur -- should come as no surprise that African American entrepreneurs face different challenges.

"A lot of other cultures and other groups do very well, but it is documented that (African Americans) are not successful when it comes to group economics," Giscombe said. "You have a lot more entrepreneurs in other communities than in African American communities."

The growth of an entrepreneurial culture in Flagler County has had a positive effect on the overall economic base. And empowering African American entrepreneurs and other underrepresented communities can only strengthen and diversify a community that suffered significant economic pain from the Great Recession.

By creating partnerships, Giscombe hopes to encourage African American entrepreneurs to take the leap of faith necessary to achieve eventual success.

"The best way to deal with challenges is through partnership, being able to communicate with other entities that would support you," he said.

Giscombe has achieved partnerships with local organizations including the Flagler County Department of Economic Opportunity, the entrepreneurship program at his alma mater in Gainesville and others.

Creating conditions for an entrepreneurial landscape is an important component to growing the local economy and the added boost for would-be entrepreneurs bodes well for Flagler County's economic future. And in an arena where failure is not only an option but sometimes a necessity on the road to success, having a community of like-minded entrepreneurs can only help push those individual efforts forward.

"It gives you the freedom to use your knowledge to come up with creative services and be able to build your own opportunities instead of seeking an opportunity from someone else," Giscombe said.

That is the essence of entrepreneurship.

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