By: Davion Ziere

December 2, 2019

For at least 3,000 years, money (including but not limited to coin, shell, paper and digital currency) has dominated how mainstream society measures value. It was originally developed as a tool to simplify the process of trading and assessing the worth of assets, goods and services. Its creation has subsequently accelerated the rate of commerce & human exchange.

In the same breath, money, in and of itself, is nothing… It is not recognized by any universal principle or law of nature, and yet it has grown beyond helping us determine the value of a person or a thing. It has been a key factor for the type of life one can live – a restrictive experience shared by billions of colorful souls across the globe. While few thrive, many strain.

As we approach 2020, we are experiencing the dawn of new economies, the constant displacement and resettling of diverse identities, the decimation of our environments and the expansion of our collective consciousness via the internet and close engagement with ideas, values and energies from around the world.

Given the conditions, this is a good time for us to ask ourselves critical questions about money and our value: Is money a genuine mirror for how much we are worth individually & collectively?


Our Approach at Culturebase to Answering these Questions

At Culturebase, this issue of value is critical to us. We exist to advance socio-economic structures so that all identity groups, especially the marginalized, can actualize our full potential and have healthier, happier lives. The questions that birthed Culturebase were: 1. How do we build towards a world that empowers people to flourish being who they are most authentically? 2. What are valuable assets that nearly any person possesses that we could build around?

We first identified the assets that all people possess some level of: identity, culture, and data. This led us to defining two categories of people to serve first: 1. People who are proud of their culture and how it’s shaped them into who they are (their identity.) 2. People who are passionate about creating culture and how their creations impact and permeate the world around them.

Once we selected these groups, we deliberated on how we could cultivate an economy that accurately reflected the value of their lives and works. Fortunately, we discovered that there were already major existing markets that universally support culture and identity owned by the people producing them: tourism and local cultural consumption; both trillion dollar markets globally.

In order to connect these groups to markets that would support their value, we have created a platform that leverages AI and human curation to enable travelers and local culture seekers to tap directly into the offerings and subcultures of our city’s communities, in the same fashion that Spotify and Apple Music use AI and playlisting to curate music and genres.

We have also positioned ourselves to partner major brands with local brands, creators and small businesses in order to bring more visibility to the value produced within our communities. A great example was our “Brand New Day in the A” event, where we partnered Atlanta Falcons, TESLA and MET ATL with more than 50 local vendors for a 4 hour community activation. 

The result? 1200+ attendees produced over 1000 materials recycled, over 5000 transactions and tens of thousands of dollars driven to small businesses and the local creative community in just one day. 

Since then, we have also partnered with the likes of Google, MINT Gallery, Artpocalypse and more to hold workshops in Atlanta that educate small businesses and creators in Atlanta on how to assess their value, how to maximize their value in business and to legally protect themselves. 

So far, we have impacted over 1500 creators and small businesses in Atlanta. As we roll out our tech in full force, we are growing our reach exponentially in 2020. We have already seen an increase in brands seeking consultation on how to uplift our community’s economies while also activating their products, and look forward to continue bridging this gap.

These are just a couple of the ways we have made a dent thus far on the questions we asked above, and we are excited to share the economic data and community impact as we scale.


If you or a brand you know is looking to make a strong positive impact in communities by helping more diverse groups flourish while also getting your brand activated in authentic ways, contact us for a consultation at: [email protected]

By: Aayush Gupta (22C)

November 26, 2019

“Most people think of entrepreneurs as risk-takers. I was taught that you have gifts, you have talent, so you invest in those,” said Kevin Rodgers, founder of SHWAXX Laboratories.  

On Wednesday, November 13, Emory Impact Investing Group (EIIG) hosted a panel attended by students, faculty, and Atlanta community members, at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.  

The event discussed the challenges and experiences of entrepreneurship, and how impact investing can facilitate the empowerment of small businesses in local communities. Almost 48% of the American workforce is employed by small businesses, accounting for approximately 44% of the American GDP. There is, however, a large gap in the presence of micro-businesses between high-income and low-income areas. The difference can be attributed to the income gap and inequality in the U.S., as corroborated by Goizueta’s very own Professor Peter Roberts’ research.  

EIIG, led and run by undergraduate students, aims to provide microloans to local entrepreneurs who lack access to capital in an effort to help close the micro-business gap by increasing the number of successful small businesses in high-poverty areas. This goal is pursued by providing access to early-stage financing, student consulting, and networks necessary for the sustainable growth of a business. Three of the several entrepreneurs that EIIG works with were featured at this panel: Kevin Rodgers, founder of SHWAXX Laboratories, a company selling hair care products targeted towards people of color, Akissi Stokes, a former Emory graduate (92 Ox, 94C) and founder of WUNDERgrubs, a bakery that sells protein-rich mealworms through traditional snacks (cookies, granola bars, protein powder) to deliver increased nutritional gain to customers, and Nicole Massiah, founder of Massiah Law & Associates, a company providing legal services.  

Also in attendance were representatives from Start:ME and CREATE, two Atlanta-based accelerators that EIIG works with to identify and assist promising entrepreneurs.  

Brian Goebel, Managing Director at Start:ME, extensively discussed the research conducted by Professor Roberts and how it shows the disparity in the presence of microbusinesses between high and low-income neighborhoods. “[There is] no difference in talent, there are amazing entrepreneurs in both low-income and high-income communities. But there is a difference in the ecosystem of support, and on average there are 26% fewer businesses in an underserved, lower-income neighborhood,” Goebel explained.  

More important than just the financial inequalities, however, is the availability of networks that help a business succeed. It is essential to have a system to advise and support an entrepreneur. Start:ME was founded on the principle of “[bringing] knowledge networks and capital together” to reduce this microbusiness gap in Atlanta, the city with the highest level of income inequality in the U.S.  

Jonathan Tescher, Program Manager at CREATE, said that these entrepreneurs have a lot of “common challenges, obstacles, and fears” that they face. CREATE strives to help them overcome these issues with their program, through which they impart knowledge and training to the entrepreneurs to help them tackle the problems facing them. “Most people we work with have no prior business experience,” he said, which means they often lack the skills necessary to start and grow a company of their own.  

Entrepreneurs face many barriers when starting their own businesses. CREATE, Start:ME and EIIG make sure they don’t have to overcome those barriers alone.  

This is part one in a series on student-led impact investing.  For part two, see Emory Impact Investing Group (EIIG) Invests in Atlanta’s Entrepreneurs.

# # #

Run by Emory undergraduate students, Emory Impact Investing Group (EIIG) provides microloans and financial consulting services to Atlanta entrepreneurs to unlock the full economic potential of traditionally high poverty areas by increasing the number of successful small businesses. EIIG is currently fundraising $40,000 by December 31; if you’d like to contribute, please visit their website.