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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Hustle PHX Helping Underserved Entrepreneurs

Oye Waddell Picture-2When Oye Waddell was only 14, he began to see his friends in South Central Los Angeles start drifting into drug sales. Sure they had nice clothing and fancy cars, but he also saw how drugs destroyed families. He didn’t like what he saw.

Now nearly a quarter century later, Waddell, 37, has established Hustle PHX.

“Hustle PHX, is a non-profit organization that encourages entrepreneurs to start or grow their business in underserved urban communities like South Phoenix. We do this by providing classes and creating mentor teams,” said Waddell founder and CEO of the program.

“When I was exposed to business in college, I learned if they (his friends) knew a better way, they would have done it a different way,” he said.

His program provides a much better way.

The faith-based organization was founded by Waddell in 2013 and is poised to have its third class this fall filled with eager entrepreneurs. It costs students $50 to get started.

“We have helped over 100 this year and 100 the year before,” he said. “For most businesses it takes three to five years still, so they are still in the process.”

He blames “failing schools,” for the breakdown of urban communities and the reason men and women are going to prison. He knows he could have just as easily gone the way of his drug-dealing friends, but he had positive role models.

He credits the influence of his parents, sports and church, which kept him on the straight and narrow. An athlete at Westchester High School in Los Angeles, he went on to be a linebacker at University of Washington. Later he earned a master’s degree in public administration at the University of California and masters of education at Arizona State University.

He came to Arizona to get involved in charter schooling, but later changed his mind. He said he saw a huge need for support for entrepreneurs in the urban South Phoenix community.

Hustle PHX aims for people who are working at businesses that will help the community flourish. The organization mentors them in three areas: Intellectual, social and financial support.

Their first step is to get a basic training of sorts, which includes tutoring in how to identify their customers to how to build a business plan. The social component helps them reach out to their massive social networks and beyond; and the financial support comes from places other than traditional banks, he said.

When the entrepreneurs reach a certain level they have the help of a lawyer, banker and sales manger.

“These volunteers are all business professionals helping the enterpatnure with sales plans and projections,” he said.

Davit Marcano, 30, is about to enter level two. He entered the program two years ago and is now working with manufacturers to bring his product to market. His business, Covenant Collection offers solid perfumes and colognes.

“My experience has been awesome,” said Marcano.

He said the instructors are “awesome” and teach real life entrepreneurial skills.

“It really helps me test and validate ideas I have about what it takes to start a business,” he said. “It really showed me starting a business is more about being resourceful than it is than having all the resources we think we need.”

He said the most important thing he learned was to open his mind to the possibilities and people.

“I was introduced to a network of movers and shakers. I am now a member of the Hustle PHX family,” he said.

“One of the things we have seen is that the difference between wealth and poverty is relationships,” Waddell said.

Among the other people who have been helped so far are owners of a beauty saloon, a landscaping firm, a moving company and a catering business. Also helped are a gourmet popcorn business, a janitorial supply wholesaler and a woman who supplies flowers for events.

Daniel Fortes, 42, began his relationship with Hustle PHX as a member of a mentor team, helping someone else get more customers from the internet. It was during that time that he realized he had no brand on his own business, so he signed up as a student. He is now going to hear speakers and networking with his Hustle PHX family.

“It is amazing what you can get for $50,” Fortes said.

“We are supported by local businesses and we are connected to local churches, government and partner with ASU,” he said Waddell, who is also the pastor of New City Church.

As far the name, Waddell said the term “hustle” usually has a negative connotation connected with something illegal.

“We want to change what people think about hustling. We are hustling for the common good and the flourishing of our community,” he said.

Anyone can share their business idea with Waddell, but there is one criterian.

“We want to make sure they are serious about their business,” he said.

The group meets at South Mountain Community College.

To learn more visit www.hustlephx.com or contact Waddell at 602-972-2305. Also contact New City Church, 1300 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix.










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