You’ve likely heard of food deserts. In these pockets, people have to travel miles to find nutritious foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Similarly, Felecia Hatcher—the CEO of Black Ambition—says there are “innovation deserts” in which budding tech professionals need to leave their own communities in order to be active participants in the innovation economies or start-ups happening in other cities.
In these deserts, innovation is happening; but these communities are being left out when it comes to being financial beneficiaries of coming up with novel ideas that could drive new products or services, she explains.
Felecia was a recent guest on season 7 of The Design Better podcast. Prior to her role at Black Ambition, an organization founded by Pharrell Williams that works towards closing the opportunity and wealth gap through entrepreneurship, she was Co-owner of Feverish Ice Cream and Co-Founder & Executive Director of the Center for Black Innovation.
In the episode, Felecia talks about writing handwritten thank you notes and the importance of remembering birthdays and other tidbits about people you network with. These “moments of enchantment” allow for a human touch as artificial intelligence push us in the opposite direction.
She also provides a thoughtful solution for investing in innovation deserts, a term she and her husband coined. We’re starting to see a shift so that innovators in black and brown communities are being funded.
“But oftentimes it’s still a charitable approach as opposed to ‘This is something that I’m investing in that I’m looking to for outsize returns,” Felecia says. “And there’s a big difference in that.”
When you make a charitable type of investment into a business, you actually have very little expectations of a return. But if you’re approaching it from an investment standpoint, you’re following it up with high-level resources and mentorship, she says, which then allow for these companies to grow in their communities and also solve problems throughout the world.
Brittany Anas is a Denver, Colorado-based freelance writer. She is a regular contributor to publications including Apartment Therapy, Forbes and Men’s Journal and previously was a reporter at the Daily Camera in Boulder and The Denver Post. She worked three years as a federal background investigator before transitioning into a full-time freelance role.