(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first article in a series on Cohort 3 of the “100Knoxville” program, an initiative that aims to help Black-owned businesses grow by $10,000,000 in five years.)
By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA
Doing research on successful businesses, Reico Hopewell found that many got their start during a time of crisis. The same can be said of Hopewell Helping Hands Inc., which Hopewell launched at the height of the pandemic.
Hopewell, who is the Executive Director of The Mend House Sober Living Community for Men, had heard from the program’s residents that they were having difficulty finding jobs. He took matters into his own hands and jumped on Facebook Marketplace, finding equipment for power washing. From there, Hopewell would find work for these residents doing anything, including washing cars and moving furniture.
Many of the workers also had experience in painting, carpentry, lawn care, and more.
Hopewell Helping Hands has “taken off because what I’ve realized is that the men in my program have a robust level of skill sets, which I didn’t know,” he said.
Hopewell is a licensed therapist. Through his role at the Mend House, he is often coaching people who had difficulty holding down a job. Many are “men who wanted to change their lives but didn’t have good direction or resources.” Programs like Hopewell Helping Hands can help people in recovery to remember that they aren’t rejects and are worthy of being in society.
“The beautiful part of it is I’m able to support them,” Hopewell said. “This gives them the opportunity to show the community that they are worth it, that they are worth believing in.”
Hopewell recently finished the five-week program through “100Knoxville.” While still in the program, he also received recognition from the Knoxville Chamber as the “Pinnacle Business Award” winner for “Minority-Owned Business Excellence.” You can read more on the awards in this teknovation.biz article. Hopewell said he first heard of “100Knoxville” through Angela Elder, Founder of Smiles Professional Cleaning Services, who was part of Cohort 2 of the program. You can read more about Elder’s experience in the program here.
He said being an entrepreneur in Knoxville for people of color, particularly when it comes to finances, can be a challenge. Hopewell said that he had been turned down numerous times for bank loans. Programs like “100Knoxville” help to open doors for more minority-owned businesses, and Hopewell said he hopes to see more initiatives like it in the future.
“Knoxville’s trying to be better, and I commend Knoxville for that,” he said.
Part of the value in the “100Knoxville” program was to learn from his fellow cohort members and to know that they had gone through some of the same struggles he did. Hopewell also applauded Kandis Troutman, the new Lead Facilitator, saying “‘100Knoxville’ has a jewel in her.”
The five-week program helped Hopewell with business skills including marketing and budgeting.
“I don’t worry about a budget. I just want to help people,” he joked.
He wants to continue growing Hopewell Helping Hands. Because it is a free platform, Hopewell said he is a big believer in using social media for marketing. Most of the work Hopewell Helping Hands has done came from word of mouth on Facebook. Eventually, Hopewell said he wants to help women through the program as well. He added he is grateful for all the people reaching out with job opportunities and providing people with a second chance.