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The Long of It: Leveraging social enterprise to spread empowerment

Since the early 2000s, Bronx-born, Philadelphia-raised, who went on to spend much of her adult life in New York City and Cape Town, has used business as a force for good at home and abroad. She is obsessed with helping social entrepreneurs build businesses that generate societal wealth, do the least amount of harm to the environment and community while doing the most amount of good for all those involved.

Alicia’s beliefs and values remain steadfast over the course of two decades.  Job creation, Black Economic Empowerment (BEE),and Systemic Equity are the core elements of all the work she has done since leaving Banking.  She is now embarking on a new journey, called Battling Back from Baseline™ to help those dealing with depression.

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Alicia’s Superpower

Using business as a force for good

If you’re thinking about starting a business;  are stuck in a certain stage of your business planning and operations; just need to get things done; or if you want to make an impact in the world but aren’t sure how, and you need an inspirational driver to help realize your professional or personal potential – Alicia is your go-to force for change and accomplishment.

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Current

Alicia currently serves as an Advisor to the Oakland Department of Planning and Building where she is currently responsible for overseeing the revival of the City’s Proactive Rental Inspection Program (PRIP). Additionally, Alicia is working  extensively with the Department of Diversity and Equity (DEI).

She is an esteemed Fellow of FUSE Corps – “a national nonprofit that partners with local government to help urban communities thrive”. FUSE works “with cities and counties on a range of issues, including economic and workforce development, healthcare, public safety, climate change, and education”. To aid in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization seeks to prioritize safety and affordable housing simultaneously by improving technology for building inspections and code enforcement.

The goal of the Program is to locate all residential rental properties within the City and conduct proactive inspections to ensure and improve upon the overall quality of life for the Citizens of the City and address the issue of substandard rental properties and promote greater compliance with the City’s Municipal Codes and Health and Safety Codes.

Additionally, Alicia is conducting the Planning & Building Department’s first Racial Equity Assessment which will serve to evaluate the Proactive Rental Inspection Program. The report will be used to inform the development of the PRIP plan and ensure is established with baseline conditions for Oakland residents to inform the creation of specific elements and measurements by which outcomes can be tracked over time and to address social inequities inherent in existing housing conditions.

Bio - A Quick Snapshot 

Since the early 2000s, Bronx-born, Philadelphia suburb-raised Alicia has used business as a force-for-good at home and abroad. She is obsessed with helping entrepreneurs build sustainable and meaningful businesses. 

There’s an old saying, usually attributed to Confucius, that goes something like this, “Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.”  This quote can best be used to summarize Alicia’s career. An updated version of that well-known philosophy seems fitting to sum up her professional legacy of empowering others through the global businesses she has started: “Teach a woman to bake and you'll feed a village for a lifetime." 

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Cookies With a Conscience:

Leveling up the Social Entrepreneurship model

South Africa  

After spending time with an NGO in South Africa, Alicia was further inspired to create something that would contribute to sustainable job creation while generating societal wealth.

“I wanted to create jobs for people as a means to make them self-sufficient.”

The first business Alicia built was in South Africa – The Khayelitsha Cookie Company. The company was built to help create long-lasting employment opportunities for those – especially women – who were deemed unemployable. Today it this is South Africa’s longest-running Social Enterprise.

Through this innovative business model with a social objective, Alicia utilized the entrepreneurial and analytical skills she had gained on Wall Street to expand her model for social transformation. The success of the initiative motivated her to replicate and share the model in other developing and underdeveloped countries, as well as in disadvantaged communities in the US.

Alicia founded The Khayelitsha Cookie Co., which today continues to employ women (and men) from Khayelitsha in Cape Town, South Africa, to bake, pack, and sell their KCC branded cookies to hotels and restaurants across South Africa.

The Back Story


On a trip to India, former Wall Street investment banker Alicia (who specialized in Initial Public Offerings at Merrill Lynch for closed-end country funds) witnessed abject poverty. This experience, coupled with her own experience as the daughter of a WWII Refugee, was the tipping point which led her to find her purpose as a Social Entrepreneur, advisor, educator, and mentor.

Along with the emotional impact of the US terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, this epiphany, convinced her to change the course of her profession and life, and commit herself to work with international aid organizations. The result was the creation of a forward-thinking equation that has since allowed her to fulfill a personal commitment to bettering the lives of others.

“I wanted to help people change their lives – I just didn’t know at the time it would be through a vehicle called Social Entrepreneurship”.

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Areas of Expertise

Alicia is an Advisor on Social Enterprise across multiple continents, an Educator and Mentor. She provides fiduciary advice and guidance to private and public institutions. Her expertise includes:

  • Consulting and Coaching

  • Curriculum Design and Evaluation

  • Demographic Research

  • Feasibility Analysis

  • Marketing and Business plans to determine revenue streams

  • Marketing from concept to roll-out

  • New Business Venture guidance

  • Nonprofit Management

  • Scalability Analysis (to determine additional sources of income)

  • Workforce Development advice, plans and guidance 

Education

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Public Speaking, Press & Lectures

A regular public speaker and author, Alicia has contributed to more than 75 events and articles, has been featured in Oprah Magazine and on CNN and ABC, and has been lecturing on Social Entrepreneurship at Wharton School of Business since 2006.

Her work has been featured in CNN Headline News ‘Small & Global’, and in publications such as The Financial Times, Glamour (South Africa), O, the Oprah Magazine (South Africa), and Business 2.0.

Alicia also received the Food Network Awards 2007 ‘Edible Entrepreneur of the Year’ award.

Get in touch to book Alicia for a speaking engagement or event.

Link to Press Section