What inspired you to create Cultural Grassroots? What is your mission? I came across the work that the folks at Black & Sexy.tv are doing and wanted to help them do more. They are producing multiple shows with a team of writers, directors and actors and their work is resonating with certain crowd of young folks that revel in the authenticity of the images and stories being depicted. It brought me back to the days when I was a founding member of KJM3 Entertainment Group, an indie film distributor that experienced some success with a few films in the mid to late 1990s, most notably, “Daughters of the Dust”, by Julie Dash, and “Man By The Shore” by Raoul Peck. With the international success of Daughters, we generated a lot of hope in the Black independent film world that our raison d’etre, “Three Dimensional Images and Stories from The African Diaspora”, would translate into investment from the Black business community into production and distribution. As I went about putting money together to contribute to Black&Sexy’s crowd funding campaign, it dawn on me that the “crowd” can be the Producer, the financial backing, that the Black independent media world has been looking for: the audience. These “affinity” backers, the crowd, had a direct interest in the creation and dissemination of this information beyond financial return, and would constitute a network that could be transformed into pieces of the distribution and marketing infrastructure. That effort lead to the creation of CulturalGrassroots.com as the intended source of financing for projects from our best and brightest. Images and Stories, represents a strategic industry where we have a competitive advantage that we are using to compete in a global world. We talk more about this in: “A Black Crowdfunding site? Is that really necessary?”
How does your platform revolutionize the industry? Who is your target audience? Well, in terms of the industry of images and stories, the success of CulturalGrassroots.com would mean the success of a viable financial model that has been the missing piece of the puzzle for Black independent media voices. We are talking about the potential to create and legitimize the independent voice and imagery of the Black diaspora that has not been seen through the current system of financing and distribution. I think that holds true for financing of business ideas and projects in general. This is a new source of financing that is open, accessible, meretricious and not compulsory or continuous. From those standpoints, we believe that our target audience are people that understand the importance of infrastructure building, and of the ability to turn the pennies from our friends and family networks into dollars from our larger crowd that can fund good ideas and serious, committed people.
Why did you choose this particular niche? What makes your platform different from similar platforms? There have been other crowd funding portals aimed at the general Black audience. What sets CulturalGrassroots.com apart from those efforts is our focus on a smaller niche within the worldwide Black audience. Our niche, if you will, is comprised of people with a world view that recognize the power in the ability to ascribe value to our goods, services and ideas, and the potential of the internet to harness that power. In my many years of being in business I’ve come across so many Black entrepreneurs and activists committed to improving the competitiveness of our community and most often, financing is where their enthusiasm and commitment meet the realities of finance capital. CulturalGrassroots.com is an effort to be a source of capital for strategic entrepreneurs, those entrepreneurs with projects and ideas that help to build what we call, “an infrastructure of self-sufficiency”.
What is a ‘green light activist’ and how does one become a ‘green light activist’? When we talk about “strategic entrepreneurialism” we are referring to ideas and projects that are practical and capable of broad impact. A good example is the business of Images and Stories, otherwise known as film, television, theatre and publishing. One of the terms we use for those that register by leaving an email address, “Green Light Activist”, comes from the world of film where the power to “green light” a film is the power to give it the go ahead, to start writing checks and hiring people.
Tell us a bit about your future plans; what are your goals for the platform? Our future depends on the crowd. CulturalGrassroots.com is currently just a proposition. Once we reach 50,000 email registrants, we will then crowd fund and crowd source the building of the actual portal. We are building the crowd before we build the portal. Once the portal is up, the brand recognition should be such that good, viable projects will seek out CulturalGrassroots.com as the best prospect for funding.
Lastly, what has been your biggest challenge thus far with this venture? So far, the biggest challenge has been reaching the community of activists and entrepreneurs with the message that CulturalGrassroots.com is not a “proprietary” project, CulturalGrassroots.com is a resource financed by people with a vested interest in their success, a community of Activist Angels, ready to fund the best and brightest projects and businesses that can help build an infrastructure of self-sufficiency capable of increasing the competitiveness of the Black world.