A new nonprofit in Sioux Falls helps immigrants and people of color in business.
The HUB is a BIPOC (which stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color) leadership, networking and professional development organization created by Julian Beaudion and Kuol Malou.
The official launch was celebrated with a party and get-together on July 28 at Swamp Daddy’s in the Jones421 building.
“We’re just thrilled to bring this to the community,” Malou said. The two have developed The HUB over the past three years.
Similar to, but not quite like, a chamber of commerce, The HUB will offer a Networking 101 course, and a partnership with 1818 Elite Financial will provide courses on wealth generation and budgeting.
The skills will be both classroom-based and practical, Malou said, and the course will also include going over the nuances of the interview process and how people can best defend the job they want.
“I think the greatest need for people of color in the business world is simply a space and an opportunity for growth,” Beaudoin said. “Our hope is to really create those spaces and those opportunities that will allow us to sustain that for generations to come.”
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How co-founders with different backgrounds came to create The HUB
Beaudion has lived in Sioux Falls for over a decade. He is a state law enforcement officer, current executive director of African Americans in South Dakota, president of Juneteenth Sioux Falls, and now co-founder of The HUB.
He and his wife also own Swamp Daddy’s Cajun Kitchen in downtown Sioux Falls.
A few years ago, Beaudion and his wife were fighting for state legislation for June 19 and sought support from the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, he said.
“At the time, they refused to support us in an effort and said they wanted to do what was best for the majority of their members,” Beaudion said. “And it was mostly white people.”
Since then, the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce has supported the June 19 legislation and still has other programs that promote business skills and diversity, such as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Activator Series.
But the initial event inspired Beaudion to create a place capable of meeting the specific needs of the BIPOC community.
Beaudion reached out to other black chambers of commerce like those in Minneapolis and Kansas City to find out how something like this might work.
“We started talking about starting a black chamber of commerce in Sioux Falls, but we really don’t have the resources — or really the number of black business professionals — to do the same thing on that level,” Beaudion said. .
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After stepping back to think about what would work for the Sioux Falls community, he heard that Malou was working on something similar for the immigrant community. The two men got together and created The HUB.
As a child, Malou came to the United States with his family as refugees in 1998 from the region that is now known as South Sudan.
“We had to navigate an unfamiliar world through cultural and language barriers and what they call the American Dream,” Malou said.
Growing up, he struggled to find a community.
“I thought I had found it many times, but the more I discovered and the more I tried to connect, the more obstacles I found,” Malou said. “The biggest challenge was trying to find a place to fit in. Not quite an outsider, but I continued to feel like ‘the other’.”
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Malou moved to Sioux Falls in 2015 to try to find that community and is now the co-founder of ACE Academy and a brand ambassador for Coldwell Banker in addition to being the co-founder of The HUB.
Malou has also been involved with other business organizations in Sioux Falls, he said, but while they have good resources, there are some barriers that make it difficult for some people in communities of color to succeed. .
“Many of the refugees and immigrants who migrate here may have skills and certifications from their home countries, but are still stuck in low-paying jobs as they all struggle to understand the nuances of the culture of looking for a job,” Malou said.
The HUB is supposed to help with this.
Community members share desires for space, networking
“It’s helpful to see something like this come to life in Sioux Falls,” said Sioux Falls resident Julia Tasuil. “It was necessary. This will give people opportunities tailored to their needs to help them succeed.
Tasuil found out about the HUB through ACE Academy, where she takes her 6-year-old, and she said seeing the founders’ involvement in the community has made her more excited to trust what they’re doing. were doing.
She is working on setting up her own non-profit organization and has already started a small business with her mother. Tasuil has also been involved with Young Professional Network, Start-up Sioux Falls and Small Business Associate at one time.
“There are certainly a lot of great resources out there, but there’s also been a struggle for representation,” Tasuil said. “It can be really isolating in other organizations.”
Tasuil’s friend Tray Mendez is also joining The HUB. Mendez, whose pronouns are they/they, is a first generation Latino whose parents immigrated from Chile.
“As a business owner, I haven’t been able to find a community anywhere else with people who share experiences and can talk about our struggles,” Mendez said. “And it makes it easy to feel lonely.”
Mendez owns Elementray, an inclusive yoga studio that offers restorative movement classes for BIPOC and members of the LGBT+ community. Mendez said in other professional spaces in Sioux Falls they have been hurt by people with good intentions.
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“As people of color, we don’t want to be taken advantage of for publicity or buzzwords,” Mendez said. “By creating space for immigrants and people of color, the HUB will give us a place where we can naturally drop the shield and build a community that can grow.”
Tasui added, “One issue that we have seen consistently in the (BIPOC) community is that people of color are the face of things but don’t have that leadership. I think it’s important for people to be able to overcome the obstacles they’ve encountered so that we can learn and help each other have a better path to success.
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For Wesley Benoit, most of his best opportunities have come from networking, and he hopes the HUB will be for other people as well.
Benoit mentioned how the people he met in the Navy led him to start a crypto-mining business.
“You never know who you’re going to meet or how what they know can help you,” he said. “I think people need a space to hear about new opportunities, share experiences and network. … And that’s what I could see The HUB becoming.
Benoit thinks The HUB will be different from the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce in that it can focus more on culture and help people bridge “generational gaps” when it comes to teaching literacy financial and networking skills.
“I can’t wait to see where it goes,” Benoit said. “There’s a lot of potential there…and I could tell at the launch party that their intentions were pure, so that’s good.”
Become a member and future projects
The HUB is currently working on securing memberships. Individual memberships are $50 per year. Memberships for nonprofits are $100 and memberships for businesses are $150 per year.
The next event will be held in conjunction with Nrdvana and will provide families with the opportunity to have fun together, but details have not yet been finalized, the founders said. The goal is to switch locations and partner with as many businesses as possible.
Beaudion hopes The HUB will eventually become a specialized chamber of commerce, but it won’t be for a long time.
“Even if we develop this, I don’t think it will replace everything we have here,” he said. “There is a lot of room to grow as the community grows. Our hope is to really create those spaces and those opportunities that will allow us to sustain that for generations to come.
People can search for the next HUB event on Facebook.