Dec 7, 2022 26 min read

Building an Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

"Change is not comfortable. Change is not fast. Ecosystem work is truly about the slow burn.." Magalie Yacinthe

Episode 37, 40 min listen

In today's episode, we explore the topic of building an equitable entrpreneurial ecosystem. Our guest is Magalie Yacinthe. Magalie is a social innovator and an entrepreneur who also works at the community- and systems-level to make the entrepreneurial ecosystem work for everyone.  Along the way, we will learn about an initiative in North Carolina to build out Black Wall Streets across the state. In our Practice of Building a More Inclusive Community, this discussion aligns well with our sixth area of practice, the practice of systems work.



Learn more about the Black Wall Street Forward Initiative.

Learn more about Hustle Winston-Salem.

Magalie mentioned some individuals that inspired her. Learn more about:

Learn more about Magalie and explore some of her writing.

Listen to Anika Horn's interview with Forward Cities CEO, Fay Horwitt.

Listen at Shades and Layers.


Magalie Yacinthe, an alumnus of Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, is a conscious entrepreneur and community leader that has a passion for social enterprises. Magalie currently serves as Executive Director of HUSTLE Winston-Salem, an organization dedicated to leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs with a focus on people of color, women, and marginalized business districts. She also leads the statewide Black Wall Street Forward initiative with Forward Cities, alongside other ecosystem work as Director of Ecosystem Engagement.

Magalie is also the CEO of YES Strategies & Solutions, a cost-effective event consulting firm helping nonprofits and corporations accomplish successful programming to carry out their missions. Giving back to the community even through her businesses is essential to the core of who she is. Magalie serves as Board Chair of Forsyth Futures and Board Communications Chair for Winston-Salem Delta Fine Arts, Inc. She is an active member of the Winston-Salem Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Charlotte-Metro Chapter of the FAMU National Alumni Association. Magalie is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Winston-Salem, 2018 City of Winston-Salem Martin Luther King Jr. Young Dreamers Award recipient, 2020 Winston-Salem Chronicle Business of the Month, 2020 Winston Under 40 Awardee, 2020 HOPE Outreach MLK Women’s Day Awardee, the 2020 recipient of the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Arts Council R. Phillip Hanes, Jr. Young Leader Award, 2021 Triad Business 40 Under 40 Honoree, Black Business Ink’s 40 under 40 most influential African-Americans in the Triad, a 2022 Awardee of the Institute for Emerging Issues that recognized 22 inspiring leaders who are making North Carolina better by building coalitions and momentum for issues they are passionate about, and was most recently named a 2022 Triad Business Journal Power Player.



Ame Sanders  00:11

This is the State of Inclusion podcast, where we explore topics at the intersection of equity, inclusion, and community. In each episode, we meet people who are changing their communities for the better. And we discover actions that each of us can take to improve our own communities. I’m Ame Sanders. Welcome.

In today’s episode, we’re going to hear how North Carolina is building out Black Wall Streets across their state. We’ll learn what it takes for the entrepreneurial ecosystem to be more inclusive and equitable. In our Practice of Building a More Inclusive Community, this discussion fits so well within our sixth area of practice, the practice of systems work. Today, we are happy to welcome Magalie Yacinthe. Magalie is a social innovator and an entrepreneur who also works at the community- and systems-level to make the entrepreneurial ecosystem work for everyone. Welcome, Magalie.

Magalie Yacinthe  01:15

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Ame Sanders  01:18

When I did my research and tried to learn a little bit more about you, you have a lot of balls in the air. As I was getting ready for the interview, I was really amazed at the number of different initiatives you are part of and of your own entrepreneurial journey. So, maybe you could just tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became the entrepreneur and innovator that you are. Where did it all get started?

Magalie Yacinthe  01:41

You know, if I’m being honest, I can take it as far back as just being a kid with the entrepreneur lens, at least. I’m Caribbean. I was born in the Bahamas. My mother was born in Haiti. So, I consider myself Haitian-Bahamian. Just watching my mother be her own version of an entrepreneur–or business owner, I should say–whether that was one day being the candy lady on the block or she eventually started her own business. It was ingrained in me, whether I realized it or not, to have my own and do my own.

Aside from that, like I said, growing up as a child that way, I really think a lot of this (this being who I became) happened while I was in college. I truly believe that I think my time at Florida A&M University–FAMU the number one HBCU. I think my time there truly shaped the woman that I am. I knew even at that time that I wanted to take the entrepreneurial route at some point in my life, and I think my university allowed us the opportunity to lead and to think and to be free and to solve problems in the world. And I just took that with me after graduation. So, I credit a lot of who I am to my time, we call it “the hill” to my time on the hill.

Ame Sanders  03:04

Magalie, for those of us who are not entrepreneurs and may not be familiar with what the entrepreneur ecosystem is, tell us a little bit about what an entrepreneur ecosystem in a community includes and what it looks like when it’s working well for everyone.

-What is an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem?

Magalie Yacinthe  03:23

So, an entrepreneur ecosystem involves all of the players. So, it’s the entrepreneurs; it’s the entrepreneurial support organizations; it’s the organizations that don’t even know they support entrepreneurs, such as city and county governments, libraries, hospitals. So, they’re also part of the ecosystem. It’s also the community at large, right? So, all of the players, just like any community ecosystem, the entrepreneurial ecosystem is not that different. A lot of times what sets it apart from other versions of ecosystems that you think of is when you start to think about the mentoring piece and the investor piece and funding in things of that nature that play a role in the entrepreneur ecosystem.

But at the end of the day, if I’m being completely honest, it’s truly about the support that we provide to those that have an idea in the capacity that they have to make that idea go from step one to step 100. And the support that they have in that process. Anyone that helps them in that process plays a role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Ame Sanders  04:40

Tell us a little bit about why the entrepreneurial ecosystem is particularly important to folks in communities that have been marginalized, and what are the barriers that they have in being successful in that environment?

Magalie Yacinthe  04:55

Yeah, as someone that comes from one of those communities, I think I can say the biggest lack, although people don’t like to hear it, is funding. There’s a lot of folks that want to support in other ways, but when it comes down to putting the green dollars in Black and brown hands, we just don’t see it happen as often as it should. There’s a number of reasons why people justify that, but it’s just the one of the biggest barriers. After that, I would say another huge area is really the network. Folks have always been open to and willing to mentor, but unfortunately, many times, that mentorship comes more as a service. It feeds that individual’s ego more than it helps the entrepreneur.

One of the major things that sometimes we hope comes from these mentorships is the network who you connect these entrepreneurs to. We hear it said all the time, your net worth is your network. We hear it all the time. But how often are we actually putting those in marginalized communities in those situations? Are you willing to risk, whether it’s your reputation, whether it’s whatever it is, to really put yourself out there for the entrepreneurs and marginalized communities?

A lot of times, when I have these opportunities to speak, I like to make it clear to folks that having allies it’s great, right? It’s great to have an ally, but I’m a firm believer in having accomplices. Because to me, an accomplice means that there’s some way to hold you accountable. Like in a positive way, you’re complicit in whatever this outcome is, as opposed to sometimes I believe allyship gives you an out if you want to be out. I don’t know that I see that as a true value when we’re looking at really serving marginalized entrepreneurs.

-Magalie's Entrepreneurial Journey

Ame Sanders  07:02

I have a hard time thinking about people changing the entrepreneurial ecosystem if they either aren’t or haven’t been entrepreneurs themselves. You certainly come with that experience. So, maybe you can talk a little bit about the projects or initiatives that you have been part of and how you see those fitting into the work that you’re doing to shift the environment in the system.

Magalie Yacinthe  07:31

Yeah. First, I’ll talk about Hustle Winston Salem. It’s an honor for me to serve as one of the founders and as the current executive director of that organization. I should probably stop saying Hustle Winston Salem because we’ve expanded beyond Winston Salem, North Carolina. That organization was specifically founded because those of us that were feeling some of the barriers from the “system” we created something that we thought was the solution. We became our own solution.

So, Hustle truly was created to focus on inclusive entrepreneurship, to provide those solutions, to be the bridge between systems and the solutions, to be the ones to tell the stories of those of us experiencing–whether you want to call it unfair versus privileged, whatever you want to say, we were in the middle of experiencing it. We thought that it was worth being a voice for others that may be experiencing it for us. I smile as I say this, because I think about the founders. I think of myself and the rest of the founders like the best word I can think of is fire, right? We are the fire. If that means that we are going to burn everything down until you hear us, that’s what we’re going to do. “Us” being everyone. I like to point out to everyone in the word hustle how we ended up choosing the name is because the word “us” is there. If you really pay attention to our logo, you notice that we have that word “us” underlined in hustle, because it’s not about me, and it’s not about you. It’s about all of us. That’s truly how we change systems. There are multiple perspectives that we have to change from different angles. So, that’s one of the things. Hustle is one of the organizations.

Ame Sanders  09:26

Maybe you can give us a quick snapshot of what Hustle is and what it does–a little bit more information about that.

Magalie Yacinthe  09:34

Yeah, so Hustle is a nonprofit organization. We are focused on inclusive entrepreneurship, and we take a three-pronged approach in doing that. The three-pronged approach being systems, stories, and solutions. We truly focus on people of color and women in those and other specific marginalized communities.

As far as entrepreneurship is concerned, those are our priorities and making sure that we deliver high-impact programming. We provide resources as far as coaching, mentors, access to funding, and access to space. We’re just a resource, at the end of the day in community. I truly like to describe this above all as an advocate organization. We’re still a nonprofit, but we advocate for those in those communities that I mentioned. So, I think that’s key to note.

And as far as our expansion, we started off in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and we have expanded our reach, especially during the pandemic, to beyond the state. So, we work with entrepreneurs outside of North Carolina, but we’ve expanded our physical location outside of Winston Salem to Greensboro, which is our neighboring city–Greensboro, North Carolina.

Ame Sanders  10:56

So, tell us about some of your other initiatives because this isn’t the only one.

Magalie Yacinthe  11:00

No, no. So, a beautiful connection from Hustle to Forward Cities, actually. So, the current CEO and President of Forward Cities, Fay Horwitt, is one of the founders of Hustle. So, we remain connected. I think it’s a beautiful evolution of her life as well to see her go from one of the founding and prior executive director of Hustle (and like I said, Hustle has more of a local focus) to leading a national organization that has similar values and similar goals as Hustle. Forward Cities, I joined the team there. Fay and I stayed in contact over the years and joined the team for a few projects that they have.

-Black Wall Street Forward Initiative

In my role, there’s really being the lead of ecosystem engagements. I serve as the Director of Ecosystem Engagement at Forward Cities being able to interact on multiple projects. Primarily, I think what I want to speak on is our most recent engagement that we’ve launched, which is Black Wall Street Forward. It’s a statewide initiative in the state of North Carolina where we have the opportunity to reimagine Black Wall Street. We have five cities in the state–those cities being Charlotte, Winston Salem, Fayetteville, Durham, and Raleigh–having the opportunity to reimagine what Black Wall Street can look like today in those cities, and we use a lot of historic pillars to really define what made Black Wall Street successful in the past.

Ame Sanders  12:39

Can you tell us a little bit about Black Wall Street because our listeners may not be familiar with that story.

Magalie Yacinthe  12:44

So ideally, if you’re talking about Black Wall Street, Tulsa, specifically, it was one of the most well-known Black business districts in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Extremely successful. Ran by Black business owners, and unfortunately, it was burned down. There are a lot of theories as to how that happened. A lot of folks blame the government, but there are a lot of theories as to how Black Wall Street was destroyed many years ago. Ideally, we believe that we live in a world where we could have successful Black business districts. We have successful business districts all around, but specifically, obviously, we’re talking about Black businesses.

Like I said, Tulsa is probably the most well-known, but Durham, North Carolina, also had a very well-known Black Wall Street. They were popular Black Wall Streets throughout the nation, and in the state of North Carolina, Durham was one of the key ones. So, this particular initiative, Black Wall Street Forward, follows the model of what made Durham’s Black Wall Street successful. Each city that we selected in this first round of doing this, truly have their own history or version of Black Wall Street. While every city may not have called it Black Wall Street, for example, in Winston Salem, it was known as Depot Street, but it’s still their version of Black Wall Street.

I mean, it’s really just reigniting what that was, reimagining what it could be in the future. I get almost emotional. Like I can feel my veins tingling as I talk about it because I think it’s truly an opportunity there to realize what some have some have forgotten and tell stories, and hopefully change and overall initiative of what we think about Black businesses in this state and in this country. So, oh my god, I’m crying. But yeah, I consider it a privilege to have this opportunity. I consider it an honor. I really think about it as a chance to honor my ancestors.

Ame Sanders  14:57

So, tell us a little bit about what you see in that initiative. You talked about telling stories, but what are some of the other parts of that initiative that you plan to roll out and you see happening in the cities as we reconnect with this past and emerging future?

Magalie Yacinthe  15:15

So, one of the beautiful things about this initiative is that each city has what we call an ecosystem builder in residence. So, we have five ecosystem builders in residence. We call them EBIRs. Each EBIR has formed their own council of 12 people in their city. I think I mentioned the pillars that made Black Wall Street successful.

-Six Pillars of Success for Black Wall Street

There are six pillars that we believe made Black Wall Street successful, that being

  • a collaborative Black leadership and innovation;
  • culturally-rooted geographic business hub,
  • ally investment in partnership,
  • a talent pipeline seeded by education,
  • engagement with the broader Black community,
  • a self-perpetuating funding engine.

So, we tasked each of the EBIR to find two council members in their community to fit under each pillar. So, they have a council of 12 people in each community that’s doing this work with them. We call them their Stewardship Council. So, they are stewarding this process. Part of what they’re doing in addition to really relearning and re-embracing the well as focusing on the future. Forward Cities and our team, we definitely help guide that process. One of the key things that we’re focused on is what can we do now? We have a process that’s known as “strategic doing” that each council member and each EBIR will go through the workshop. Some of them have started the process–go through the workshops and go through their learning and strategic drilling. And that will guide them actually launching two pilots in each community to see how we can reimagine Black Wall Street today in our communities.

So, I’m really excited about that, and I think that really should get people’s minds turning. So, while this group is focused on the future and seeing what we can do 5-10 years from now, they’re also working on in the next 2-4 months, us really seeing some change in the moment as we think about the future of Black businesses in each of these communities.

Ame Sanders  17:49

Do you see it growing beyond North Carolina?

Magalie Yacinthe  17:53

That’s the hope. So, we, in the state of North Carolina, are backed by the Truist Foundation with this work. I mentioned Hustle earlier. This is definitely a Forwards Cities Initiative. I’m happy to see the engagement of each city. So, we have organizations like Hustle. Each community has different organizations. In Durham, we have the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. So, each city has key partners that are working with them that will allow this work to continue beyond Forward Cities’ presence.

I think that’s a beautiful thing and I think it was genius of Forward Cities to develop it that way. The hope is that this is just the beginning. Whether we go into other cities in North Carolina, whether we take it to all 50 states across the US, whether we take it global. Who knows, right? If you’ve met me, you know, I’m open to every single version of that. I am ready. I’m open and ready for every single version of that. But yeah, I’m excited.

Ame Sanders  18:54

So you’ve talked about two of your initiatives and those are already pretty big. Do you have anything else that you’d like to cover?

-YES Strategies and Solutions

Magalie Yacinthe  19:02

A lot of time, I like to remind people–, and I think you alluded to it already, Ame–that I’m also an entrepreneur. So, in addition to running a nonprofit and working in entrepreneurship through Forward Cities, I have the opportunity to have the lived experience of those that we’re hoping to impact every day. I have two businesses, and I would say it’s been an interesting journey with both businesses. One of them is Yes Strategies and Solutions. I had that business before I even knew how to run a business, right? It was one of those things when I finally decided I am leaving corporate America and I’m starting my own thing, and I did not know a thing about starting a business. I have had that business, and I still have it today and Yes Strategies and Solutions has taken on many forms.

It started off as an event planning company at one point, and then today, it’s more of an event strategy firm. So, I have clients from hospitals to universities to nonprofits to large corporations that essentially rely on me and my experience in those that I contract with to truly provide guidance on not just the best way to execute, whether it’s a conference or a convention or anything like that. But it’s also how do we make this impactful. That’s where I love the work. I can’t seem to tear myself away from it. It’s probably truly my heart. It’s something that I’ll never let go. Like, it’d be one of those things where I’ll be 102 in the bed, still providing like, “No, that’s not the right strategy. You won’t impact people that way.” I can just see myself because I just love it. I love it. I truly do.

-SO-IN Forsyth

Then the other business, SO-IN Forsyth, is a socially innovative oil company. It’s a company that I started in 2018. It really launched and took flight and got its own legs in 2019. That is an oil aggregation company. Basically, we collect waste cooking oil, and we work with another firm that helps turn it into biodiesel for us. Ideally, that biodiesel was to be placed in school buses. We had a partnering business as well called Biodiesel for Schools that we worked with. I would say, considering that the company really took life in 2019 and seeing what happened in 2020, with the pandemic, that business was beyond impacted. So, it was impacted because we relied heavily on restaurants. Then the output of our business was really to put it in school buses, both industries being severely impacted during the pandemic. So, it made a huge hit on our business.

However, I think the key thing that I want to want to share before I put out the status of the business, even today, is that from 2018 to date, that is a business that truly reminds me why we created Hustle. Why organizations like Forward Cities exist, because when I tell you–and I kid you not Ame–I think I’ve experienced the worst…I don’t know what else to call it. But I don’t know if it’s systemic. I don’t know if it’s racism. I don’t really know what it is. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a woman like I truly don’t know what the actual barriers are. But I’ve been slapped with lawsuits and all of these things, and none of it actually makes sense. The more I learned about the oil industry, and it’s unfortunate, I’ve learned that this is a commonality that a lot of times larger firms try to shut down small businesses like this through lawsuits and keeping us tied up in court, etc. I’ve had, I can’t say who because I don’t know who, but I’ve had our oil stolen, and the police really shared with us, “There’s nothing we can do. You’ve got to put up cameras.” So, it’s just it’s been a whirlwind, I will say.

I took a leap of faith into an industry that I actually was not well versed in, but I saw an opportunity, and really what drove me to the oil industry in this way was honestly what I learned about Black and brown students and asthma and fuel into school buses. That was my “why” for starting this business. It just really has been unbelievable. It has been a whirlwind. I think that’s the word–unbelievable. I’m still sticking with it right now, but I really have been going through the ups and downs. Any entrepreneur who hears this can probably relate when I say this. I’m trying to decide if I’m going to see it through or not. Am I going to keep swimming? Or am I going to give up and say you know what, this dream wasn’t for me? This business isn’t for me. I’m not quite sure where I am in though in that crossroads and in that journey yet, but it’s still something that I balance on my plate to date to kind of make that decision.

Ame Sanders  24:11

If we step back to the ecosystem for a minute, and I know you would never do that without being informed by all your own personal experiences, too. Let’s talk about some of the wins that you feel like you’ve been able to accomplish some of the challenges that you’ve continued to face. Just kind of give us an idea of what this journey of transforming ecosystems has been like.

-Transforming Ecosystems

Magalie Yacinthe  24:37

Yeah. The beautiful thing I think is it sounds harder than it is. Because, believe it or not, all it takes is conversation. It takes having hard conversations. It takes self-reflection. Most people who have interacted with me and engaged with me in any ecosystem–whether it’s here in North Carolina, whether it’s folks in Indianapolis, whether you’re in Texas, whoever, you have interacted with me as we’ve done this work–the number one thing is you have to be authentic. People have to trust who’s at the table. They have to trust that you are who you say you are in doing this work. That’s a huge part of the journey.

Then it’s definitely, like I said, being bold enough to have hard conversations, being willing to call yourself out when you are trash or not being the best version of yourself, and also being willing to do that to others. That means you’re not always going to be liked, and that’s okay. It comes with the work. If you’re ultimately trying to build a better ecosystem, ideally, that probably means that there’s some change that needs to take place. Anytime we think about change, we get uncomfortable. And more importantly, for those that want the change, we want it overnight. It’s just neither of those are going to be a thing.

Change is not comfortable. Change is not fast. Ecosystem work is truly about the slow burn. It’s going to take time. You have to be committed. You might have to talk to the same people 50 times before it actually works and sticks in their heads, and they start to realize what it is that you’re wanting to do. Sometimes you just have to be quiet and listen. So, the journey is truly a multitude of things.

But I would say, and I heard this from our director of learning at Forward Cities, and he heard this at a conference, he said, “We’re not building ego-systems. We’re building ecosystems.” It’s the most powerful thing that we can remember. Because if we let go of our egos, truly, everything else makes sense. If we truly, for a moment, step back and say, “Magalie, it’s not about you. Ame, it’s not about you.” Let that go. Whatever it is that we are trying to accomplish becomes, it’s about the people we want to serve. Again, going back to how I started, that’s why that word “us” was so important. Because it’s about everyone, right? I said in the beginning that when you’re talking about an entrepreneurial ecosystem, everyone truly plays a role in that process. Everyone has their lane in building that ecosystem. So, if you remember that, you remember that everyone has a part, and it’s all of us, then there’s a chance we might make it out of this thing a better people and a better system. But you know, again, we have to let go of those egos.

Ame Sanders  28:05

You just shared a lot of wisdom with us there. I want to ask you just to dream with us for a minute. So, if all of this work that you’ve been doing is successful, what does success look like for you? You talked about it being a slow burn. Over what kind of time horizon do you imagine success unfolding?

Magalie Yacinthe  28:26

I don’t know that I have a clear answer about the timeline, or the time horizon. But I will say what success looks like for me is when we have a world or a society, communities, where entities like Hustle and entities like Forward Cities really don’t need to exist. We don’t need organizations that need to remind us that we should be more equitable because we already are more equitable, you know what I mean? Like when we no longer have to exist, to me, that’s what success looks like. I say it all the time to our board at Hustle, the best thing in the world would be for us to have to dissolve this organization because we no longer serve a purpose. That would be the best thing ever. So, to me, that’s what success would look like.

-Partnerships and Team

Ame Sanders  29:00

I know you didn’t do this by yourself. So, maybe you could talk a little bit about the people who’ve been part of this with you, your partnerships, and how you approach the team aspect?

Magalie Yacinthe  29:28

Yeah, absolutely. There’s absolutely no way that I could do this for myself. From an organizational standpoint, I think about the people that are actually doing the work alongside with me at Hustle. We have an associate director who I just named her associate director a couple of weeks ago, but she’s been part of the team for years. So that’s Toni. We have a programming coordinator, our operations coordinator, our administrative assistant. Those people, without them, we could not do this work. So, if they ever hear this Mandez and Sheridan and Tasia, thank you. That’s from the Hustle lens.

From a Winston Salem community lens alongside Hustle, those that fund us. So, I think about organizations like the Winston Salem Foundation. I think about organizations like the Black Philanthropy Initiative. From a statewide scale, like organizations like NCIdea. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with them, but NCIdea have focused on entrepreneurial organizations and entrepreneurs across the state of North Carolina. Without all of these folks, we could not do the work that we do at a community level.

Then honestly, from a standpoint, when I think about Forward Cities, I can name every single person on that team. It’s a phenomenal team. Honestly, I wish they were all on this podcast with me. I really have to give a shout-out to the CEO, to Fay for her vision. We met each other at a time where we both recognized something wrong, and we clicked on that. And we said, “All right, Black girl magic activated.” And we really did that, and I’m very proud of that. I’m very proud of her and just everything that I believe that she has accomplished that Forward Cities as an organization and continues to accomplish is really a proud thought for me to be part of that story and part of that narrative change. So, everyone at Forward Cities, I would have to give a shout-out to.

Then for both of my companies, I honestly think this sounds so cliche, but honestly, I couldn’t have done it with our family. Family will forever be a foundation, even though when I first left corporate America, my mom was like, “What?” But aside from that, I have to truly say loved ones will keep you grounded, and they also keep you humble. That’s important. I appreciate having my nephew on my niece just on a random Tuesday remind you that you’re just their aunt. You know, at the end of the day, you are just their aunt, and I appreciate these moments. So family, definitely.

This is another cliche one, but I have to say it. It’s honestly the community that you’re around. I can’t name everyone in this given moment in time, but anyone that I have interacted with, whether it’s our ecosystem partners and community, whether it’s the entrepreneurs that we’re working with, whether it’s a newspaper that decided they want to tell the story, or whomever, a programming partner organization. No matter whom it is, I think it’s worth sharing that there’s just no way to do this by yourself, and everyone has their role. Everyone helps keeps the story moving.

-Who Inspires You?

Ame Sanders  33:00

Are there communities that you look to for inspiration or leaders in this work that you think other communities need to know about these initiatives or these people?

Magalie Yacinthe  33:13

Yeah. So, there’s a gentleman in Baltimore, Paulo Gregory, and he led, with a bunch of other people, an initiative called the Black Butterfly. If you haven’t had a chance to look at that, I really encourage that folks take a look at that, but also just take a deeper look into Paulo. I think he’s an amazing individual. He created something called Cohado. I honestly think he’s a genius. It takes a genius mind to create what he created. He’s a true innovator in how he impacts community through Cohado. So, definitely that’s somebody that I would shout out. I want to shout out and I met this woman maybe once or twice, but her name is Sherrell Dorsey. When she was in North Carolina (I think she’s since moved back home to Chicago), but I appreciate her boldness. I appreciate the way she tells stories through data so that it’s never a question. So, if she’s going to call you out, she has the facts to back it up. That’s often not seen, especially when you are bold enough to call out major Fortune 100 companies. I have to say a salute to her. I think in the work that she’s done. So, those are two key people off the top of my head. I’ve already mentioned Fay, who I think is a phenomenal leader in this work and in this space.

Ame Sanders  34:43

Are there things that we haven’t talked about today that you wish we had covered?

Magalie Yacinthe  34:47

One of the things that I failed to mention in my work, and I think it’s my work tied to Forward Cities, is how we are focused on really creating equitable ecosystems and truly trying to think about equity for every entrepreneur. I think it’s beautiful that it’s not a cookie-cutter model that we’re creating for every community that we enter. At Forward Cities, we truly go into each community and determine what their needs may be. That’s how we try to have the impact. In some communities that’s a little harder than others, and that’s okay. If that means that we have to be in that community a little longer than we plan, that’s okay. I share that because I think, for me in my role there, I appreciate and love that I get the opportunity to be one of those people in those communities to truly say, “Hey. We didn’t actually get this right yet. We need to be here a few more months.” Or, “We’ve got this right. There’s still work that needs to be done, but we no longer need to be the ones to do the work. Let’s figure out the best plan to make sure that it’s positively moving forward.” I think that I have to mention that because a lot of times where we fail in ecosystem building is that we come in and do our part, and then we’re done. So you think about grants, or you think about corporations that do donations, we come in for one thing, and we disappear, and sometimes disappearing might be okay. Very few times, that’s okay, but sometimes it is. But as long as we’re able to see the work through, and I think Forward Cities, awards me the opportunity to make sure we see the work through, and I appreciate that. I hope the communities that we work in appreciate that as well.

Ame Sanders  36:45

Magalie, I want to thank you for joining us today, and I want to encourage you and thank you for the work that you’re doing in North Carolina and beyond.

Magalie Yacinthe  36:54

Thank you so much. I appreciate this time.


Ame Sanders  36:59

Magalie has gifted us with so many insights today in our discussion. She talked about the three-pronged approach with Hustle Winston Salem. The approach of systems, stories, and solutions makes so much sense and reminds us again of the importance of stories in the work that we do. I’m excited about the work that she’s doing with Forward Cities and their initiative called Black Wall Street Forward. The idea of naming an ecosystem builder in residence. Identifying partners and establishing a local council seems like such a smart approach to give the work really strong local energy and focus. The wisdom Magalie shared regarding the six pillars for success was one of my favorite parts of our discussion. I’ll just recap those. She mentioned collaborative black leadership and innovation, a culturally-rooted geographic business hub, ally investment as a part of this, a talent pipeline that was seeded by education, engagement with the broader Black community, and a source or an engine for self-perpetuating funding. You know, I also love the concept she had of strategic doing. The idea that while doing ecosystem work, we need to have a long view, maybe 5 to 10 years. It’s a slow burn, but we also need to move forward with some urgency. Their concept of strategic doing really supports change, as she said, in the moment–change that moves ahead in a two to four-month timeframe. It was also really touching and encouraging to hear and sense the emotional commitment that Magalie brings to her work, especially to her role with Forward Cities and Black Wall Street Forward. It serves to remind us that building more equitable communities is not easy, but in the end, it happens because of the inspiration, energy, and passion that individuals like Magalie bring to this work.

You know, if you love this episode and this discussion and you really like all things ecosystem and maybe you want to know about more about Forward Cities, Anika Horn on her podcast Ecosystems for Change, has an interview with the CEO of Forward Cities Fay Horwitt. Give it a listen. I’ll include a link to it with the other materials in our show notes.

-Introduction to Shades and Layers Podcast

I’d like to introduce you to another podcast. It’s called Shades and Layers. They’re a podcast that profiles Black women entrepreneurs and solopreneurs from across the globe. Each week Kutloano interviews a guest about their journey, and the conversation acts as a masterclass in entrepreneurship. Some of the topics they cover include discussions about representation, access to finance, measuring impact, and the meaning of sustainability in an increasingly complex global context. If you enjoyed this episode with Magalie, I think you’ll enjoy Shades and Layers.

This has been the State of Inclusion podcast. Join us again next time.

And if you enjoyed this episode, the best compliment for our work is your willingness to share these ideas with others. Leave us a review. We’d love your comments.

Thanks so much for listening


Guest: Magalie Yacinthe

Host: Ame Sanders

Social Media and Marketing Coordinator: Kayla Nelson

Podcast Coordinator: Emma Winiski

Sound: FAROUT Media

Ame Sanders
Founder of State of Inclusion. A seasoned leader & change-maker, she is focused on positive change within communities.
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