Niani Tolbert of HIREBLACK secures one of several $25,000 NAACP Powershift Entrepreneur Grants
On October 27, The General partnered with Black Entrepreneurs Day for its third annual live-streamed event. The event took place at Harlem’s world-famous Apollo Theater and was viewed by millions of people worldwide via the Black Entrepreneurs Day’s website.
A Look at our 2022 Grant Recipient, Niani Tolbert
As an extension of its partnership, The General awarded a $25,000 NAACP Powershift Entrepreneur Grant to Black entrepreneur Niani Tolbert, Founder and CEO of HIREBLACK, a company dedicated to recruiting jobs for Black women and building their network. Along with this $25,000 grant, Niani will also receive one-on-one mentoring sessions with The General’s very own Shaquille O’Neal to provide guidance and support to grow her business.
What started as a Linkedin post to help 19 Black women with resume review sessions soon transformed into matching over 300 Black women with recruiters and hiring managers at top companies. #HIREBLACK has evolved into a network of 15,500 people and counting. Niani wants to provide Black women with the opportunities they deserve in a competitive corporate landscape.
Q&A With Niani Tolbert, Founder and CEO of #HIREBLACK
Q: First off, huge congratulations are in order. How does it feel to receive the General Insurance’s NAACP Powershift Grant?
A: Thank you! I am so grateful to The General and the NAACP for this grant. My team and I are truly honored to have our recognized initiatives and to be afforded the opportunity to take HIRE BLACK NOW further by expanding our offerings to further support our community.
Q: How will the $25,000 grant give you the break that you need right now?
A: Winning this grant gives us the capital to invest in pivoting as a business to ensure we’re catering to the market’s needs by offering job-searching resources that our community has been requesting.
The job market has been tumultuous this year, and we want to have the capacity and resources to invest in Black talent — who are disproportionately impacted, yet overlooked for many opportunities. This grant helps our small-but-mighty team grow and invest in things that, at the end of the day, expand our capacity and impact.
Q: For those who may not be familiar with HIRE BLACK NOW, would you share a company overview?
A: HIRE BLACK NOW is a career resource organization made by and for Black women, who face systemic obstacles and are often overlooked in the workplace. We help Black talent get hired, trained, and promoted with free and affordable resources, including our job board, hiring events, annual #HIREBLACK Summit, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day resources, and a mini ESSENCE career series of articles!
Q: One thing that stood out to us was your entrepreneurial spirit. What motivated you to start HIRE BLACK NOW?
A: HIRE BLACK NOW started off as an initiative while I was a furloughed tech recruiter during the year that “shall not be named” — 2020. I posted on LinkedIn requesting help with resume review sessions for 19 Black women, and it went viral! So many people either wanted to help or needed help — and all I wanted to do was connect them. So, I gathered a few volunteers, and we ended up connecting hundreds of Black women with recruiters and hiring managers.
When I had the opportunity to go back to work, I found it more fulfilling to move back home with my family and figure out how to make HIRE BLACK NOW sustain me so that the work I was truly passionate for could continue. Since then, I’ve never felt so connected to my work than I am now.
Q: What motivates you to keep going?
A: The stories of our community keep me motivated. Through our social channels, we have constantly been exposed to negative experiences Black women face in the workplace. These stories motivate our team to be innovative and intentional about new and current initiatives, resources, and events that can empower our community to know what they deserve, equip them with the tools to secure the career of their dreams, and inspire them to help the next person. I also have strong opinions on how much needs to be changed. I want to see that change.
Q: Niani, you’re an inspiration to so many. Who is your inspiration?
A: Thank you! My mom is my inspiration. I saw her struggling to find a job for ten years and her experience is the reason why I have HIRE BLACK NOW. My Grandma is also a huge inspiration of mine. She is a retired teacher and the way that she taught and how she held up and supported my entire family has shown me the excellence of Black women and how they hold people together and how they, too, need to be protected.
A Recap of Black Entrepreneurs Day
In addition to The General’s NAACP Powershift Entrepreneur Grant recipient announcement, The General also presented Game Changer Conversations, which featured Daymond John in inspirational and authentic One-on-one discussions with black business leaders and cultural icons including The General’s long-standing brand ambassador Shaquille O’Neal alongside Spike Lee, Venus Williams, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Killer Mike.
In addition to game-changing conversations, The General presented The Breakdown, a panel discussion featuring Morgan DeBaun, Founder & CEO of Blavity, Inc, Ryan Wilson, Co-Founder & CEO of The Gathering Spotand EJ Reed, CEO and Co-Founder of Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria. These experienced Black Entrepreneurs shared their stories of success and achievement and how they scaled and grew their businesses.