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Jalen Bailey is founder/CEO of Jalen's Bakery. Photo by Ram Reyes.

published on October 7, 2019 - 1:48 PM
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Business has been good for Jalen Bailey, founder and CEO of Jalen’s Bakery.

With the summer in full swing, he’s out of class and has more flexibility and time to bake, a hobby that’s become a business. It’s worth noting that his venture has also led him to giving in-home baking lessons to others. It’s also worth mentioning that at age 11, he’s one of the youngest entrepreneurs in Fresno.

He started his business three years ago to earn extra money for college and to help his mom get a house — and more importantly, a golden retriever for the house. He also does it for the simple fact that he loves to do it.

Jalen is also one of many local examples of young black people pursuing the American dream of entrepreneurship.

“A lot of us want something different for our kids, so we may see something, maybe at one point it was a different industry, so we would teach our kids, ‘hey, go after this industry,’” said Sharhonda Mahan, Jalen’s mother. “And entrepreneurship is just a thing that’s really popular right now.”

However, it’s not just the kids. Kaya Herron, government affairs liaison for the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, says the organization has been extremely busy offering training, advice and other assistance to other black entrepreneurs, with more and more African-American women coming through their doors for help in their prospective ventures.

“I can say that the number of people that have come through my doors in the last 365 days is increased,” Herron said. “So there are people of color that are looking for services and resources to help them with their businesses.”

According to Herron, the three most prevalent industries that people are breaking into include consulting, the service industry and food and catering. Herron added that while tech is a little behind the top three, it’s also seen significant growth. Herron expects more business growth in the black community over the next several years with help from the Transform Fresno project, a state-funded initiative to use cap-and-trade money to create new economic opportunities in downtown, Southwest Fresno and Chinatown. Herron has also been extensively involved in this initiative by leading the Metro Black Chamber’s Green Team.

This has prompted the creation of a women’s entrepreneurship cohort by the Metro Black Chamber, with their second class graduating just recently. Herron explained that black women have a harder time raising venture capital than any other demographic, especially in STEM. It’s for this reason that Herron says relationship management is one of the main lessons taught to women at the cohort.

“In terms of money, it’s really about who you know and what access you have to resources,” she said.

Mahan has also been busy imparting the lessons she’s taught her son. Since founding it last year, the Plan Big Dreams Online Business Academy has been helping young and aspiring entrepreneurs regardless of race. This consists of five classes, taken either once a week for five weeks, or five a week for one week. The lessons she’s teaching in turn were passed down from her mother, herself a businesswoman.

She’s also been reaching out to children in their neighborhood to give free lessons, and is working to forge partnerships with local businesses.

“I’m just kind of getting more getting more kids involved, so that they too can be able to learn business leadership,” Mahan said. “But my main thing with the leadership program is basically confidence building, instilling respect in them — anything that has to do with great values.”

Jalen is also involved with the classes, offering affirmations that anyone, no matter their age or ethnicity, can take to heart.

“I am an overcomer. I am loved,” Bailey said. “I attract all the good that I deserve and I desire, and I am liked. I have no fears.”


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