Today we’d like to introduce you to Rochelle Candler and Perry Ealim.
Rochelle and Perry, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a native of Arizona, I grew up in a family dedicated to community service, business, ownership and education. We practiced group economics as a way of life, and always if possible bought from our neighborhood. Coming from a family that is big on saving for future generations and leaving an economic legacy, I learned from some of the best. I come from a family of successful business and land owners who all have a very impressive financial portfolio, and they practice group economics.
Being that I grew up in a family like this, I was surprised to learn as an adult that this is not the “norm” for many people of African Decent, even though other ethnic groups practice this all the time. I was having a hard time finding successful businesses which were owned and operated by people of color, and an even harder time finding people who thought like I did. I was and am still determined to do my part to change this dynamic. This is why I named the organization Black Wall Street Arizona Inc after the original Black Wall Street in Tulsa Oklahoma in 1921.
Back in 2013, I was searching for ways to support my community by spending money with people who owned and operated businesses in the community. I was looking at the state of “Black America” now known as the African American Community and noticed that not much has changed with regard to our economic status over the 75 years despite so called “legislative wins”. So, I decided to embark on a way for to teach people the importance of generational wealth via business, group economics and home ownership.
The company originally launched in 2015, and due to the fact that I work a full-time job, I was unable to dedicate the hours needed to move the organization forward in the manner that I wanted it to move. Enter Perry Ealim. A well-known and respected business leader who is also an Arizona Native. He moved back to Arizona after being gone for about 20 years to help me move things forward. Together as a team, we have made significant strides toward our goal of creating a virtual Black Wall Street Arizona City.
Today, we now have and office, several different divisions, and have helped to start many businesses from the ground up. We have also done our part to help re-structure existing businesses, aide organizations in getting their 501(c)3 with the IRS, and partnered with other organizations who are doing good things in the community.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has been very tough and the struggles have been many. I was shocked to learn how easy it is to be taken advantage of, lied on and misled by those who are “respected” and considered “leaders” in the community. It was dis-heartening to say the least. Being a woman in a male dominated society comes with a set of issues all their own. Learning how to navigate those issues has been enlightening.
Teaching concepts which seem foreign to African Americans has not been easy and in fact has been met with hostility from some. I remember my grandfather always told me nothing worth having is easy. Being the “new person/organization on the block” is hard because everyone is looking at you, examining everything you do, and looking for the “flaws”. Mistakes happen, I have made many, but there is no success without failure, so those mistakes have been a blessing. I have learned a lot about people in general, and even more about myself.
Black Wall Street Arizona – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We are a small business incubator located in South Phoenix and serving the entire State of Arizona. We specialize in business set up, grant writing, community service, financial education, and youth services.
We are proud to say we have a small but dedicated group of people who all volunteer their time to do their part in making the community a better place to live for the generations to come. Building new business and strengthening existing ones is what we love to do. That is one thing that sets us apart. We all volunteer out of love for people and the community. All monies we receive get put back into the community via free training’s and programs.
Our divisions include:
-> Dedicated to educating people on economic growth, business, civics, and finances through workshops, symposiums, and one on one consulting. A place where community both political and nonpolitical can come and educate each other on concerns of local communities and individuals that live work and play in certain districts.
-> A place where community members can buy gold and understand the concept of investing in minerals, precious metals and stocks.
BWSAZ Travel Services:
-> A full service travel agency dedicated to meeting the travel goals both personal and professional of every member in the community.
Diaspora Day Arizona:
-> A community festival meant to educate, celebrate and articulate the contributions of those that make up the African Diaspora.
-> An opportunity for small investors to come together and carve out a large piece of land for redevelopment.
BWSAZ Youth Educational Services (Y.E.S.)
-> For those youth who are looking for more than the classroom setting for education. Created for ages 7 to 17, this group will have hands on experience in careers, technology, arts, management, marketing, and personal finance.
BWSAZ Veterans Services:
-> Dedicated to providing information on veterans benefits to include, housing, small business loans, and health. This also includes an information and referral service.
BWSAZ Council of Elders:
-> A platform for those trailblazers in the community to share their knowledge, expertise, and contacts with the younger generation for the greatness of the community.
BWSAZ Power Series:
-> Designed to implement a holistic structure of placing building blocks of people, families, and communities showcase a positive picture that yes, we can if we all do. This is a solution-based series in which people will learn skills to take back to their individual families and communities.
**Our goal is to create a virtual city.**
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Personally, if I am able to make a difference in the life on one person, teach them something which they can in turn teach their children, then my work is not in vain.
I pay attention to the fruit of those around me. Are they learning? And more importantly putting into practice what they have learned? Are they building something to leave for their children’s children? If the answer to any of those questions is a yes, then success has taken place.
- Address: 3146 E Wier #32
Phoenix AZ 85040
- Website: www.bwsaz.org
- Phone: 602.875.6813
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: bwsaz
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bwsaz
- Twitter: @bwsaz