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Credit Suisse launches program to accelerate wealth among black entrepreneurs

(October 20, 2014) Credit Suisse today launched the Credit Suisse Entrepreneurs Circle, which will provide select African-American entrepreneurs with access to three program elements -- capital, curriculum and community -- to help them fulfill their current business aspirations and build for long-term growth. Members include men and women in high-growth, global industries from around the country.

"The Entrepreneurs Circle positions Credit Suisse to serve African-American entrepreneurs in three important ways, leveraging the bank's core strengths," said Brady Dougan, CEO of Credit Suisse. "The Entrepreneurs Circle will help to accelerate long-term growth for its members and for Credit Suisse."

The program is part of Credit Suisse's Private Banking and Wealth Management New Markets initiative, which seeks to advance financial opportunity among women, African-Americans and the LGBT community.

"Credit Suisse aims to be an authentic and innovative accelerator of wealth creation in the African-American community and our other New Markets communities," said Pamela Thomas-Graham, Credit Suisse's Chief Marketing and Talent Officer and Head of Private Banking and Wealth Management New Markets. "Data clearly shows that African-American business owners are underrepresented among all business owners and are generally underserved by large, global financial institutions -- our goal in launching the Entrepreneurs Circle is to begin to change that."

The Credit Suisse Entrepreneurs Circle will offer its members three program components:

Capital: Access to non-recourse debt financing at competitive rates. Financing is not automatic with membership; members will apply for it (e.g. sharing detailed financial statements, providing growth plans that demonstrate scalability)

Curriculum: Access to Credit Suisse's network of investment bankers, wealth advisors and managers and industry experts. The bank will offer standing learning opportunities to help Entrepreneurs Circle members manage for growth, and deepen their expertise on marketing, sales, operations and finance. Credit Suisse will also design a bespoke program of one-on-one relationships with Credit Suisse experts, to meet the specific business and growth needs of each Entrepreneurs Circle member*

Community: Access to a group of like-minded peers and mentors. Entrepreneurs Circle members will convene several times per year to build bonds as a group. Members will also find a group of mentors at Credit Suisse, including experts from every industry and a group of advisors affiliated with New Markets, each of whom is an influential African-American business or non-profit leader

Entrepreneurs Circle members include:

Phil Bronner is the CEO and Co-Founder of Quad Learning, which collaborates with community colleges to jointly develop and deliver American Honors, a competitive two-year honors program designed for high-ability students who plan to complete the remainder of their bachelor's degree at a top-tier college or university. Aimed at preparing students for the rigors of a four-year institution, the American Honors program offers students the tools and one-on-one support to succeed academically. It was founded on the premise that an undergraduate education does not have to be so expensive that it drives students and families into debt.

Troy Carter is Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Atom Factory, an entertainment and music management company based in Los Angeles. Carter has established the careers of numerous recording artists, including multi-platinum Grammy Award winner Lady Gaga. Since founding Atom Factory in 2010, Troy has created several other entities. In 2011, he co-founded The Backplane, a Silicon Valley-based startup that allows celebrities and brands to connect with fans, foster community, and cultivate brand loyalty. In 2012, he created A \ IDEA, a product development and branding agency, and he launched POPWater, a low-calorie soft drink brand that he is scaling nationally.

Jonathan Cropper is a global branding/media strategist and futurist. He is the founder of Futurlogic, a next-generation "branded education" company. Futurlogic specializes in developing unique educational experiences, both physical and online, in alliance with noted brands.

Sheldon Gilbert is Founder and CEO of Proclivity Media, a high-performance cloud-computing technology platform specializing in predictive analytics. Proclivity rapidly integrates and scores petabytes of data to help companies predict and target which consumers are likely to buy, when, and at what price points to maximize sales and profits in real time. Proclivity serves a broad array of major brands across multiple industries, including retail, travel, pharmaceuticals, insurance, and sports. Gilbert has a B.A. in molecular biochemistry and biophysics and has multiple patents in self-learning predictive systems

William Heard is the CEO and CIO of Heard Capital, LLC, a global fundamental long/short sector investment management firm that seeks to generate returns while preserving capital in adverse market conditions. Launched in 2011, the firm focuses its clients' investments in the technology, media, telecommunications, financial, industrial and energy sectors. The firm's investment process combines value-investing principles with a special-situation approach. Heard's investment experience varies across the capital structure to include leveraged loans, high-yield bonds and equity securities.

Heather Hiles is the founder and CEO of Pathbrite. Pathbrite's Portfolio Learning Platform a portfolio, assessment, and learning management system helps educators, employers, and learners improve learning outcomes, increase course-passing rates, foster career development and placement, and enable project-based learning and peer collaboration. Launched in 2012, the company currently supports more than 500 schools, colleges, universities, and organizations in the U.S., with an increasingly global footprint.

John Legend is a singer, songwriter, musician, producer, philanthropist and entrepreneur. A nine-time Grammy winner, Legend's most recent album, "Love in the Future," was his fifth consecutive release to peak in the Top Ten of the Billboard 200, and his single "All of Me" peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Legend is passionate about education and extending opportunity to disadvantaged communities. He heads the Show Me Campaign and sits on several boards, including PopTech, a unique innovation network dedicated to accelerating the positive impact of world-changing people, projects and ideas.

Tonya Lewis Lee is an award-winning producer and Chief Creator of ToniK Productions. ToniK's recent projects include The Watsons Go To Birmingham, which Lee wrote, and which ToniK produced in conjunction with Walden Media and Arc Entertainment, as well as the film adaption of The Giver, which ToniK produced in conjunction with Walden Media and The Weinstein Company. ToniK is currently in development on the adaptation of the young adult novels Monster, by Walter Dean Myers, and The Gallagher Girls series, by Ally Carter. Lee is also Founder of HealthyYouNow, an e-commerce site featuring all things related to health, nutrition and wellness.

Karl Simmons and E. David Ellington are, respectively, CEO and President of GridSpeak Corporation. Founded in 2009, GridSpeak's Web-based platform provides quantitative analytics for North American energy markets, offering real-time and historical pricing data; geospatial meta-data and mapping; charting; and other visualization, situational intelligence and predictive analytics tools for trading and operations.

Collin Wallace is the founder of FanGo Software Systems, a mobile food-ordering platform for iPhone and Android operating systems. FanGo was acquired by GrubHub in 2011. Subsequent to the acquisition, Wallace worked as the Manager of Innovation for GrubHub, during which time the technology behind FanGo became a product called OrderHub, the backbone of the GrubHub mobile product, which is today responsible for over $600 million in revenue annually. Wallace holds various patents in mobile commerce and is currently building a follow-on company to leverage mobile technology in the social media space.

Hussein Warmack is President of Hantz Group Accounting, whose flagship software LEGACYSOFT is a financial tool utilized by high net-worth individuals. Warmack was most recently Founder of United Beverage Group (UBG), where he grew NuSouth Lemonade from one van and 10 stores in Atlanta to a multi-million dollar national brand sold in 25,000 stores.

Hank Williams is Founder and CEO of Kloudco, a startup launching a security-focused cloud information management and communication service. Kloudco combines mainstream cloud utility with an encryption model that prevents anyone other than the account holder, including the cloud operator, from accessing the data. Kloudco is essentially a digital safe deposit box with the features and benefits of modern cloud services such as email, storage, search, auto organization and more. Hank is also the founder of Platform, a non-profit with the goal of bringing diversity to the innovation economy on a broad and sustainable scale.


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