Comcast is driven by the entrepreneurial spirit and seeing that same spirit come alive in others as they pursue their passions and life’s work is inspiring. For Comcast as a company, this means we work hard every day to not only create the best products, content, and experiences possible but also to support and elevate diverse entrepreneurs and emerging content creators.
In late 2020, we launched Comcast RISE, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment,” to give small businesses owned by people of color – from bakeries and barbershops to childcare centers and cleaning services – the resources needed not just to survive, but thrive. Earlier this year, we also launched Black Experience on Xfinity, the first-of-its-kind destination of Black entertainment that features high-quality content from many of Xfinity’s existing network partners, while investing millions of dollars in fostering and showcasing emerging Black storytellers.
That’s why I’m beyond thrilled to celebrate Black Business Month this August by sharing the stories of some incredible Black entrepreneurs that Comcast has had the good fortune to partner with this year. They are passionate innovators across a variety of industries, from emerging content creators to small business owners:
- Michael Maponga, Founder of AfroLandTV: This is an amazing story of a team that has the vision to become the largest media distribution and production company for African stories globally. AfroLandTV is a free online streaming service for premium African movies and TV for the world to discover authentic stories and originality from Africa. We first met AfroLandTV through our Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs for Entrepreneurs, which gives talented entrepreneurs access to Comcast NBCUniversal’s renowned network of partners, brands, and mentors, to foster rapid breakthroughs in media, entertainment and connectivity. We knew the AfroLandTV team was special – passionate and purpose-driven – and it is an honor to partner with them to help bring their vision to life. AfroLandTV is now reaching 50+ million people through their channel distribution partnerships with XUMO, Plex, Local Now, and is also featured on Black Experience on Xfinity.
“Leadership is a learned trait. Nobody is born a leader and automatically knows how to lead a company or even a family. I’m still learning every day,” said Michael Maponga, Founder of AfroLandTV. “One of the things I’ve learned from being part of the Comcast NBCUniversal family and the LIFT Labs program is that failure is okay and it’s part of the game. It’s helped me to become more innovative. Learn to fail daily and early and learn to be a leader.”
- Dennis Dortch, CEO Black & Sexy TV: As a media and technology company, we know we play a unique role in amplifying Black voices and stories and providing a platform for the next generation of Black storytellers. That’s why we knew we had to team up with Black & Sexy TV, the first Black streaming service with original content all produced and developed in-house, and also feature them on Black Experience on Xfinity. After three years of offering free programming on their YouTube Channel, the network launched a monthly subscription service Black & Sexy TV Premium on Vimeo, which featured exclusive series, movies, and special footage. Comcast and the Black and Sexy TV team have worked tirelessly together to come up with smart ways to reach new audiences and quadruple the audience-reach all while investing in the next generation of Black storytellers.
“We officially launched as a network in 2015, producing low cost, high-value content while at the same time providing a training ground for the next, up and coming Black stars and creators,” said Dennis Dortch, CEO of Black and Sexy TV. “Today we are excited to expand into licensing our content and bringing lifestyle product extensions to market. We are grateful for our partnership with Comcast and their belief in the importance of our vision of providing original, high-quality Black programming and fostering up-and-coming talent. They’ve helped us to quickly expand our viewership over the past year to millions of new households. We look forward to continuing our partnership and providing even greater access to our programming.”
- Ashley Taylor-Jones, Owner of CreativeMotion Arts Center: Small businesses are essential to the growth and prosperity of America. So in late 2020, Comcast launched Comcast RISE to provide marketing, technology and capital resources to sustain, support, and rebuild communities and small businesses in the wake of the pandemic. The program also invests in ongoing mentorship and resources to help businesses succeed over the long term. So when we met Ashley Taylor and heard her story about building her small business, CreativeMotion Arts Center, a Greater Philadelphia Area-based dance studio and performance art instructional center where artistic talents are discovered and nurtured, we knew we wanted to help.
“Being a recipient of the Tech award with Comcast RISE means the world to my business! With their help, we have been able to upgrade to paperless registrations, which has saved the company paperwork and money on office expenses,” shared Taylor-Jones.
In addition to directly supporting entrepreneurs, Comcast collaborates with a number of organizations that aim to build a pipeline for entrepreneurship and small businesses. These include Center for Black Innovation, where Comcast supports Black startups and provides investor education; Ureeka, which is helping Comcast RISE grant recipients with business support and post-COVID resiliency; and BUILD, which ignites the potential of youth from marginalized communities by teaching an entrepreneurial mindset that propels them through high school, college and career success.
We’re proud to play a small part in the story of these strong Black Entrepreneurs as they follow their dreams and passions. May we celebrate them this month, and every month.