In life, there is a second chance for everyone who wants to do something meaningful and purposeful with their lives. Often, the environment we grow up in turns to shape and define who we are and what we become in the future. In other cases, the problem is systemic and attempts to break the barriers have often proven daunting or fruitless.
In America, Black people face system-wide challenges such as racism, inadequate housing, severe jail sentences, low access to credit facilities to start a business, police profiling, among others.
Despite these challenges, the Black community has seen some emerging entrepreneurs defying all odds to make it in a political-economic system that has been designed against them. One of such persons is Bun Bydaway, who was in juvenile detention for possessing a firearm when he was 16 years old and has now become a serial entrepreneur.
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Bydaway grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, which has been nicknamed “murder town” owing to the widespread gun violence in the community. Owning a gun appears to be a tradition but it also made the community dangerous, according to Bydaway.
Wilmington has consistently ranked among the most violent small U.S. cities on the FBI list. According to one report, young people between ages 12 and 17 are more likely to be shot than in any other city in the U.S. These stats confirm the nature of gun violence in Wilmington.
While in prison, Bydaway knew he had to chart a new course if he wants to make an impact in his community. The majority of males in his family were either in prison or dead. His father has been away for over six years as well as his uncles.
His dream of becoming a business owner crystalized after his last time in prison in 2018, he says. “I can’t go back to jail so I had to put my hundred percent efforts into just what I wanted to do for long-term,” he tells Face2Face Africa. While on probation, Bydaway started with his real estate business and later vending machines. “I just started with them and then everything else just came after. I never looked back since,” he says.
He has added other businesses; he co-owns a female clothing brand and has a car rental company where he rents exotic cars. He is also an artiste manager with a music studio. Bydaway is hoping to scale up his business and employ more people in the summer. He is also in the process of getting into the tech space as he is currently working on an app.
What’s more, Bydaway has taken up the mantle of advocating for prison reforms. He is advocating for less jail time and more reform programs for Black teens. He also believes being assigned to therapists could yield a more desired outcome than being jailed.
Bydaway’s journey to becoming an entrepreneur has not been smooth sailing for him. He recalls how he was finding it difficult to reintegrate into his community after his jail time. “I think prison turned me into a man but I think it [kind of] made it worst for me to adapt to society. I lost a lot of time in prison for things I could have been corrected on…Maybe a program or something in society,” he says.
He also remembers making a “lot of mistakes” when he started his business. Nonetheless, he says, “I learned from my mistakes sooner than later but [the] mistakes were costly. I wasn’t really making huge profits, sometimes none at all.”
Reflecting on his journey and his past mistakes, Bydaway is convinced that nothing is too late in this world. He is also motivated by the saying that “no matter how much the odds are stack against you, with determination, you can win.”
“[It is] never too late to make a turnaround,” the amazing businessman says in a piece of advice to all Black youth. “It most likely not going to be easy as the cards [is] stacked against Blacks, he adds. “We must work extra hard to break the chain. Everybody should want to be on the streets and take care of their family if you not going to do it for your self do it for your family.”
Bydaway also believes the U.S. government can play a role in creating opportunities for Black communities. When asked about the role the U.S. government can play to support Black businesses and the Black community in general, the serial entrepreneur called for more education and skills training. “The funding should go where it can count and will make a difference,” he says.