2016 BBIF Florida Milestone

Harambee Celebration Honors Minority Businesses For Excellence

Business representing North, South, West and Central Florida regions were honored for tenacity, business growth and economic empowerment

Hundreds of Floridians gathered to honor twelve Black business during Black History Month at BBIF Florida’s first annual Harambee Celebration on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, Florida. At the Harambee Celebration, BBIF Florida in partnership with the Financial Business Training Institute (FBTI) honored some of Florida’s most driven and successful minority businesses. The event served as an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments, leadership and many successes of Florida’s entrepreneurs of color and recognized a corporate partner that is committed to a culture of inclusion and cultural diversity. BBIF Florida’s objective for the Harambee Celebration was to celebrate Black History Month and recognize the achievements of their clients across the state that exhibit the determination, charisma, dedication and entrepreneurial spirit of Florida’s first Black millionaire, Abraham Lincoln Lewis.

“It truly was an enjoyable and exciting day,” stated Inez Long, President/CEO, BBIF Florida. “By both the turnout and preliminary feedback, we believe this objective was realized and that the day was a success. Together, with the support of our partners, we hope to make this an annual function that will bring the community together every year.”

Among the countless elected officials, M/WBE advocates and officers, small business owners and supporters, were the two keynote participants who are Annie Donovan, Director, CDFI Fund, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Community Development Financial Institutions Fund and Cassius Butts, Region IV Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration.

There were five distinctive award categories.

Abraham Lincoln Lewis Champion Award

The Abraham Lincoln Lewis awardees are entrepreneurs that have a tenacious drive and a commitment to improving the economic condition of the underserved community. As business owners, they have created companies that have a strong track record of business growth, sustainability, economic impact and success. In addition, they invest in their communities by creating jobs and aggressively hiring, employing, training, and mentoring ethnic minorities and people of color.

Award Recipients:

  • Barnes Ferland and Associates, Inc.
  • Hixardt Technologies, Inc.
  • RL Burns, Inc.

Champion Entrepreneur Award

The Champion Entrepreneur awardee is a business leader that embodies ambition, passion, assertiveness and persistence. Through the economic downturn, this visionary viewed challenges as opportunities to fine-tune their competitive advantage and rise above. They have an established history of both professional achievements and business successes.

Award Recipient:

  • Myers Seth Pumps, Inc.

Business Leadership Award

The Business Leadership awardees are businesspersons that lead by example. They have demonstrated business success by creating strong, innovative and impactful businesses. Through their provision of quality service and products these business leaders have helped to create jobs, driving economic impact in their respective communities.

Award Recipients:

  • AAJ Technologies
  • The Freeland Eddie Law Group
  • Sterling Silver Scape and Sod, Inc.


Rising Business Award

The Rising Business awardees are promising business owners that have recently started their companies. These innovative leaders have demonstrated courage to lead and drive their destinies, creating a positive economic impact in their respective communities.

Award Recipients:

  • Aquarius Pools
  • Jax Medical Billing, Inc.
  • Mitchell’s Learning Academy
  • Roses Delight

Cultural Diversity Corporate Awardee

The Cultural Diversity Corporate awardee is a corporation that has a clear and measurable strategy that promotes diversity, inclusion and equity of capital investments. This corporation is committed to impacting communities by encouraging civic participation, collaboration and social responsibility to help address the social and economic challenges of communities of color.

Award Recipient:

  • Wells Fargo

BBIF Florida is a non-traditional lender that specializes in providing loans to minority and underserved small businesses. The organization is a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) and CDE (Community Development Enterprise) certified by the U. S. Department of the Treasury, Community Advantage Delegated Lender and Micro Lender certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration as well as a Money Smart for Small Business Collaborator, certified by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. BBIF is also a member of the Opportunity Finance Network, a prestigious national membership trade organization of CDFI’s. BBIF provides business loans that range from $5,000 – $2,000,000. Since organizational inception in 1987, BBIF has helped to provide over 365 loans totaling over $43.9 million and has assisted in the retention and creation of over 11,975 jobs. BBIF engages in investments, projects and activities that have a positive economic and community. In 2015 BBIF was awarded its first New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Allocation of $20 million. BBIF has closed a total of $3.7MM in NMTC loan allocation, creating a community leverage impact of over $64 million and creating 884 jobs. BBIF also assists business owners by helping to strengthen their management capacity. Through our Financial Technical Assistance Roundtable program we have worked with over 3,250 business owners.

The event was sponsored by Financial Business Training Institute (FBTI). FBTI is a charitable non-profit organization that operates out its headquarters in Orlando, Florida. FBTI’s main objective is to assist businesses owners grow by expanding their business relationships, exposing them to contracting opportunities and making resources relevant to their industry available through Training, Education, Fundraising, and Networking opportunities. The FBTI’s primary target population is minority and underserved businesses throughout the state of Florida.

To see images from the event, click here.