Hire Harlem met up with Richard Edward Pelzer II while he was promoting and co-coordinating an event to honor the famous Harlem Hellfighters. Richard and the 369th Experience intend to recreate the 369th Regimental Band--which famously introduced ragtime, jazz and blues to European audiences during World War I. Richard wants to create a statue in Harlem dedicated to the band and soldiers who were systematically discriminated against upon returning to the United States after the war.
Richard Edward Pelzer II: “This has been a 24 month campaign. And we've got a lot more work to do!"
HH: What does your company do and how are you giving back to the community?
RP: The name of my company is MEGA Personalities. It’s a business development and management company. So I find business opportunities and develop them in fashion, beauty and entertainment. It’s not limited to those categories but I’ve mainly worked in those areas for the last 24 years.
What I've realized as an entrepreneur, and talking with a number of my friends, is that being an entrepreneur is a totally different lifestyle and mindset. It’s really difficult and hard to start a successful business by yourself--if you feel like you’re the only person and the only one doing the work. Black entrepreneurs need people to lean on and to support them. So we came up with an initiate called Harlem 2020 where we identify and work with new entrepreneurs in Harlem that have similar needs and dreams. We’ve identified 3 different kinds of entrepreneurs that we are supporting: (1) Those that are innovating out of necessity (I don't have job) (2) those that are switching careers (3) those that are almost there in developing their product.
We help these new entrepreneurs develop business plans, refine their vision and find the resources they need to be successful. We share resources related to business education, financial literacy, earning certifications, human resource support, customer relations training and mentorship. Our goal and mission to launch, build, assist and promote 20 new businesses in Harlem that generate new jobs and earn over 1 million in revenue. Currently we have over 30 businesses participating in the initiative either through a resource sharing/mentoring capacity or simply to learn.
When I talk to entrepreneurs, let's say barbers, I ask them if they own the shop...if they own the building the shop is in. I want to help them own the building! Through Harlem 2020 we encourage businesses to empower and educate themselves so they can grow to their potential. The cool thing about starting a business in Harlem is that there are so many resources and potential connections available—I help entrepreneurs find them. We are worth it.
For more info: http://www.harlem2020.nyc/