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blackEnergy: "All Good Things Must Come To An End"
09-16-2010, 09:58 AM (This post was last modified: 09-16-2010 09:59 AM by kamille.)
Post: #1
blackEnergy: "All Good Things Must Come To An End"
Parting words and lessons learned from Dr. Sonja Ebron, head of blackEnergy -- formerly a national distributor of energy conservation products and an organizer of energy buying groups that help people use their utility bills to support black communities.

All Good Things Must Come To An End

After nearly 10 years in business, the time has come to turn out the lights at blackEnergy. I’m grateful to our past and present staff, suppliers and vendors, advisors and coaches, and most of all, to our loyal and demanding customers over the years. Personally, this has been the best job of my career, at all times tough and satisfying in equal measure. But bank accounts don’t lie, and the truth is we’ve run out of steam in pursuit of our mission.

When we started 10 years ago, Enron was on top of the heap and California’s utilities were going bankrupt. We wanted to increase the options for Blacks and others vulnerable to mistreatment as energy deregulation moved across the country. We partnered with community organizations like the American Association of Blacks in Energy (Atlanta chapter) and the Concerned Black Clergy of Metro Atlanta for everything from free light bulb swaps to energy town hall meetings to countless workshops on home energy efficiency. We worked with natural gas companies to provide services with lower rates, low-credit options and cash contributions to local organizations working on issues we cared about. We sold tons of energy saving products through our e-commerce store. We took pride in serving the needs of Black communities throughout the country.

I want to share a few lessons learned over the years. First, while we found tremendous value in our focus on the needs of Black people, the problems we wanted to solve really required a solution that worked for everyone. Second, a social enterprise is first and foremost an enterprise. It’s tricky to balance social, environmental and financial goals, but financials must be primary for the other goals to have a chance. Third, having said that, it’s so important to follow your heart where it leads you. Rewards of the heart far exceed all others.

I’m going to rest for a moment or two before dreaming up a new adventure. Those who want to stay in touch can find me on Facebook and Twitter, and in the ether. Toksa Ake! (Lakota: Until next time!)

Sonja Ebron

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