NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Jonnel Doris today announced the appointment of Kenneth Ebie as the inaugural Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Black Entrepreneurs NYC (BE NYC). In this role, Ebie will work to advance Black entrepreneurship by increasing the number of Black-owned businesses in New York City and supporting their growth through development, management and fundraising of key BE NYC programs and partnerships. Ebie’s role will also ensure Black businesses mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 as they recover from the pandemic.
An entrepreneur himself, Ebie is the Founder and Principal of Ebie Strategies LLC, a boutique social impact and public affairs firm that advises corporate, non-profit, and individual clients on human capital, social impact and public-private partnerships. With prior experience in law, politics, City government, and public affairs, Ebie brings a track record of success in driving innovative social impact initiatives at the highest levels of government, entertainment, and philanthropy.
“This crisis has revealed the need for a new vision to address the broader struggle for racial justice,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Co-Chair of the Racial Inclusion and Equity Taskforce. “We look forward to Ken’s leadership at BE NYC, as he begins the critical work of ensuring that the Black business community receives the relief they need to grow and thrive.”
“Black and minority-owned businesses are the backbone of NYC’s economy and are the future of this nation’s economic landscape,” said Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Ensuring that these business owners have a constant support mechanism is my highest priority. Having Ken join our team will not only give NYC’s Black-owned businesses the resources they need, but it will also allow us to think more creatively and uniquely to address their concerns.”
“I am excited to return to City government under the leadership of Commissioner Doris to connect entrepreneurs with the information and resources they need to survive and thrive,” said Kenneth Ebie, Executive Director of the BE NYC Initiative. “By supporting economic mobility and self-sufficiency in the Black community, we will help drive the economic recovery of our great city.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Black-owned businesses closed twice as frequently as their white counterparts. To help address these concerns, the City announced new commitments in August, which aim to increase the number of Black-owned businesses in all five boroughs. The commitments were released in conjunction with SBS’ landmark report, Advancing Black Entrepreneurship in New York City, which acts as a blueprint for advancing Black entrepreneurship and highlights the challenges this community faces when starting and growing their businesses.
Ebie previously worked as a Director at The Raben Group, a national strategic communications and public affairs firm. Prior to that, he served in New York City government as Deputy General Counsel and Director of External Affairs at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), directing legislative affairs and establishing strategic partnerships, and previously as Special Counsel at the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. Prior to government, Ebie served as the campaign manager for the late Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s successful 2013 campaign. Ebie holds a B.A. from Harvard College and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
“As a former investment banker and founder of the WOCstar Fund, a venture capital firm, I know the importance of collaboration and capital to help build and grow successful companies. I am thrilled that Ken will be joining as the BE NYC Executive Director to rebuild and unlock the potential of thousands of black business owners,” said Gayle Jennings-O’Byrne: Founder of WOCstar Fund and BE NYC Cabinet Member.
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“Commissioner Doris and Executive Director Ebie are an inspirational team who are totally committed to the economic development of small businesses and businesses owned and operated by women and people of color. They are going to help NYCs small businesses to lead NYC back from the brink of economic crisis,” said Donnel Baird, Founder of BlocPower and BE NYC Cabinet Member.
“The announcement of Kenneth Ebie’s appointment as the inaugural Executive Director of BE NYC is both exciting and affirming. It further cements the commitment of the NYC Department of Small Business Services, led by Commissioner Doris, to the existing and fledging entrepreneurs and small business owners who are the backbone of the City’s economy – in challenging and flourishing times,” said Jacquette M. Timmons, President and CEO of Sterling Investment Management and BE NYC Cabinet Member. “As a member of the BE NYC Advisory Cabinet, I’m really looking forward to working with Kenneth and the rest of the team.”
“Congratulations to Ken Ebie on his new role as an Executive Director helping to create sustainable economic growth in the Black community,” said Sekou Kaalund, Head of the Northeast Division for Chase Consumer Bank and BE NYC Cabinet Member. “I’m glad that the movement for change continues with Ken, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact that the BE NYC Initiative will create.”
“It’s encouraging to see New York City reinforce its commitment to the BE NYC initiative with a competent leader who uniquely understands the entrepreneur journey. While there’s a lot of work to be done, I’m confident that Kenneth is up to the challenge,” said Regina Gwynn, Co-Founder of Black Women Talk Tech and BE NYC Cabinet Member.
“Ken Ebie will be an outstanding leader for Black Entrepreneurs NYC (BE NYC). He brings tactical know-how, creativity and great skills to promote the work of the BE NYC and, as importantly, he has a deep personal connection to the experience of Black entrepreneurs,” said Paul T. Williams, Jr., Partner at Brown Hatchett Williams, LLP and BE NYC Cabinet Member.
“In the New York Urban League’s just-released State of Black New York, the report states how COVID-19 has disproportionately hit African-Americans in death rates, lack of access to technology, job loss and business closures. African-American small businesses that have been historically starved for capital are in need of immediate capital, creativity and collaboration,”
“In the New York Urban League’s just-released State of Black New York, the report states how COVID-19 has disproportionately hit African-Americans in death rates, lack of access to technology, job loss and business closures. African-American small businesses that have been historically starved for capital are in need of immediate capital, creativity and collaboration,” said Arva Rice, President & CEO, New York Urban League in Harlem. “Kenneth N. Ebie’s broad-ranging experience in public affairs, strategic communications, government and politics make him uniquely qualified to help navigate systems to help entrepreneurs. His work creating city-wide campaigns and initiatives will help BE NYC reach its mandate. We are thrilled that Ebie has taken on this important role and look forward to working with him to help our small business owners strive and thrive.”
“Oftentimes, that access is limited or not available to black entrepreneurs. I am optimistic that Kenneth Ebie and the BE NYC will create pathways and open doors for current and future black small business owners.”
“I would like to first congratulate Kenneth Ebie as the inaugural Executive Director of the BE NYC. When I think of small businesses and specifically black-owned small businesses, the greatest hurdle for entrepreneurs is access. Access to capital, access to information, access to the movers and shakers who create and influence policy is paramount for the success of any entrepreneur,” said Melba Wilson, owner of Melba’s restaurant and Small Business Sector Advisory Council member. “Oftentimes, that access is limited or not available to black entrepreneurs. I am optimistic that Kenneth Ebie and the BE NYC will create pathways and open doors for current and future black small business owners.”
“Ebie brings a unique perspective to this important work. We are fortunate to have such a talented person moving Black entrepreneurship forward here in New York City. The timing is right for his leadership and the urgency of the work has never been greater,” said Wole Coaxum, Founder and CEO of Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. and BE NYC Cabinet Member.
SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information on all SBS services, go to nyc.gov/sbs, call 311, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Photo credit: Kenneth Ebie (excuse low-quality image).