Philly Rising: 23-year-old jumpstarts national movement for ‘rebuilding’ Black businesses

Philly Rising: 23-year-old jumpstarts national movement for 'rebuilding' Black businesses

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — For 23-year-old Alexis Akarolo, protesting wasn’t enough. After a day of demonstrating in June, she says she felt called to do more.

“The civil unrest happening with George Floyd and the lack of relief,” she said. “Businesses are suffering. People are suffering.”

Akarolo wanted to help support Black businesses suffering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, magnified by long-existing racial and systemic inequities.

“I kind of called it ‘divine intervention.’ I felt like I had ancestors in my ear,” she said.

That intervention led her to start a fundraising campaign to help “redistributing the wealth.” As donations started pouring in, Akarolo called on her former Penn State Abington roommate, 23-year-old Zelnnetta Clark, for help.

“We had raised about $150,000 in two weeks. We said: We need to start a nonprofit so that we can be credible and people will feel safe giving us money, and people will feel safe receiving money. We thought it was the most responsible thing to do,” Akarolo said.

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