SEASON 1: Actionable Advocacy · Making a Difference in the Community

Ensuring a level playing field for small businesses

Inclusion can mean so much.

This Community Collaborative Action Panel takes a look at how community leaders can have a positive impact on the community when they encourage businesses and business leaders to be more inclusive.

During the round-table discussion, Zion Institute CEO Shawn Pearson explains how her organization is pushing for a level playing field when it comes to capital investment. We also hear from the owner of Purelistic Health & Beauty Leticia Long about how mentorship and going through the Zion Institute’s Spirit of Excellence Business Development Workshop contributed to her success.

Watch the Community Collaborative Action Panel



Action Panelists

Shawn Pearson

Leticia Long

Action Panelists

Shawn Pearson

CEO – Zion Institute

Leticia Long

Owner – Purelistic Health & Beauty

"I'm still on the field, in the battle, to make sure we have access to the same capital that every other business does."
Shawn Pearson

Mission of the Zion Institute

This year [we] have been able to be really intentional about our original mission, which is capacity building to bring solutions to community. Over the last 15 years, we’ve done direct service in multiple areas to address social impact. Now, it’s social impact entrepreneurship. It is designing, implementing, and replicating business models that are solutions for our community. The goal is to spread the wealth. We’re now teaching other entrepreneurs to do that same thing, so residents can monetize their mission, build family legacy, and also be a solution to community.

Measuring wins and fighting battles

I think the biggest wins are seeing the multi-generational impact that our work is having from the integrated clinic to be able to serve children through seniors, through foster care. Being able to engage families of every race, predominantly families of color. Family reunification, the childcare preschool, and (stopping) the school-to-prison pipeline from our kids in Roosevelt has been really impactful. Every day I walk in to see a family being changed, those are the major wins.

The continued battle is still access to capital. We still don’t have access to capital. Where other partners that don’t look like me have all the access in the world, and they’re doing probably a third of the work we do. So, relationships are key. I’m grateful for what the Chambers have done. The visibility created for Zion really boosted my belief that it could still be done even without that access. I’m still on the field, in the battle, to make sure we have access to the same capital that every other business does.

New year, same goals

The theme for the year is “Zion, and.” It is the continued, intentional collaboration with any and everyone that wants to serve our community, regardless of what sector they’re coming from. Because the key to sustainability for any of the work is collaboration. I think the pandemic proved that. It kind of forced some folks to analyze how they have been doing business, especially in the nonprofit sector. We had to really look at how could we leverage one another intentionally. And the sustainability of all of that work is happening because the relationships are continuing.

"If you wholeheartedly have a passion for what you're doing ... then you definitely have the ability to scale in any arena that you're in."
Leticia Long

Value of mentorship

Going through Spirit of Excellence gave me the ability to partner up with powerful mentors such as Shawn and Robin. And to put me in the room with people that I may not typically have the opportunity to present a product, or a business plan to. Partnership and teaming up with Shawn Pearson has been just an excellent experience for me and with my company being able to scale into a major platform in Chandler Fashion Center. We’re the only African American company in the mall. Representation matters and partnership and programs like Spirit of Excellence really make a huge difference.

Lasting message

One of the things that I would like the audience to walk away with is just knowing that if you wholeheartedly have a passion for what you’re doing and you’re willing to network and be mentored to get out of your comfort zone, then you definitely have the ability to scale in any arena that you’re in.

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