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Kezia Williams's avatarPerson

Kezia Williams

CEOThe Black upStart

Washington D.C. Metro Area

Member Since February 2021


Educational Management
Training & Development


As CEO of the Black upstart, I lead a team of talented professionals to train early-stage African-American entrepreneurs interested in starting job-creating, bankable small businesses. To date we have trained nearly 200 small business creators in Washington, DC; Brooklyn, NY; Raleigh, NC; Durham, NC, and Baltimore, Maryland and engaged a network of over 66,000 African-American creatives, entrepreneurs, and innovators via our social media platforms. Forty-one percent (41%) of our program graduates are still in business, 50% of them are employers. In 2014, I was commissioned by the United Negro College Fund to launch a $25 million national entrepreneurship initiative benefiting African-American undergraduate students seeking scholarship support and business training. To date, I have successfully scaled the program from 44 scholars to 350 scholars representing over 90 colleges and universities. In addition to awarding nearly $1 million dollars in scholarships to our undergraduate cohorts, I have developed entrepreneurship curricula validated by the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute, advised the launch of an online learning platform, directed a faculty advisory board, and piloted a mentoring program connecting academia and industry leaders to scholars. My past leadership positions have included serving as the youngest member on the City of Alexandria’s Human Rights Commission (2005-2008), a prolific fundraiser for the 2008 Obama for America campaign raising $250,000 (2008-2009), and Deputy Lead for National Day of Service for Obama's 57th Presidential Inaugural Committee (2013). My work with social entrepreneurs and innovators of color has been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine, Black Enterprise, Essence, BEACON, and the Washington Post. Proud alum of Christopher Newport University, and a native of Richmond, Virginia in my free time I enjoy reading the history I was never taught in grade school.

Company details

The Black upStart

Company bio

Develop a faculty-endorsed curriculum to train early-stage African-American entrepreneurs to start job-creating small businesses. Engage 30 faculty members, who are industry leaders and academia, in implementing curricula with the intention of creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports persistence among African-American small business owners beyond their first year of business. Lead business accelerators benefiting early-stage African-American entrepreneurs in Washington, DC; Brooklyn, NY; Raleigh, NC; Durham, NC; Charlotte, NC; Brooklyn, NY; and Baltimore, MD. Connect African-American entrepreneurs to funding opportunities available to community development financial institutions, banks, and angel investors.



Company size

2 - 10