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Innovation & Job News

Museum for Black Innovation and Entrepreneurship opens and holds weekly discussion series

The Museum for Black Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MBIE), a new nonprofit located in Southeast D.C., is kicking things off with a month-long exhibit and a weekly discussion series. Both the exhibit and the discussion series are free and will take place at THEARC.

The discussion series' keynote will occur Saturday, March 16, at 3 p.m. Patricia Carter Sluby, a registered patent agent and former U.S. primary patent examiner, will discuss Creatively Making a World of Difference.  

Dr. John Whitman, co-founder and executive director of MBIE, says that the mission of MBIE is to "catalyze the creation of an ecosystem that supports innovation and entrepreneurship east of the river."

"Our exhibits are meant to inspire," Whitman states. "We want to tell the black story—people who had their whole identities taken away from them. It’s a story everyone should know. It’s not exclusionary. We’re using the story as a vehicle to inspire."

Whitman, who teaches social entrepreneurship at Georgetown University, co-founded the MBIE with Rev. Dr. Kendrick E. Curry, senior pastor for the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist church in the District. In 2010, the two met during a workshop about community organization and decided to launch the museum.

"We need to vastly increase awareness [about] east of the river," Whitman states. "Median wealth among white families is 20 times that of black families."

Whitman's statistic comes from the Pew Research Foundation. The 2010 census reveals that the average median income for families in Cathedral Heights (20016, NW) is $121,000 per year. The average median income for families in Anacostia (20020, SE) is $36,000 per year.

One way Whitman and the MBIE want to rectify that imbalance is to help potential entrepreneurs create worker cooperatives. Instead of offering skills training for jobs—what Whitman calls "a supply-side approach to unemployment"—the MBIE is planning to train entrepreneurs to become members of worker cooperatives.

"We are creating demand-side employment. They can control their own companies and built asset value and wealth over the long term," Whitman explains. "It's an exciting model that needs to be tried in D.C."

The MBIE is looking for a permanent home in Ward 7 or Ward 8.

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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