Afro-entrepreneurship: alternatives and challenges for economic development

Organizer and Chair: Marcelo Paixão
Panelists: Tam Hawkins (Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce), Cloteal D. Haynes (Haynes-Eaglin-Waters, LLC), Paulo Rogério Nunes (Vale do Dendê)


The economic challenges for the African American population largely encompass the alternatives found within the communities themselves and in particular in afro-entrepreneurship. In recent years, several reports showed that black entrepreneurs are creating businesses at a higher rate than their white counterparts. However, in many cases, African American owner face bigger problems to consolidate long-term established businesses. Some of these problems are less access to financial resources or racially hostile environments less favorable to promoting black business survival. Difficulties in management skills, network building or problems related to self-esteem and lack of family tradition also affect the entrepreneurial capacity of the African American population. This panel will cover these topics by looking at strategic initiatives to consolidate entrepreneurship within Austin’s black community.

Dr. Marcelo Paixão is an Associate Professor at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a faculty at the African and African Diaspora Studies Department (AADS) and the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS). He is also the Director of LAESER, the Lab for Ethnic and Race Equity. Prof. Marcelo is a Brazilian economist and holds a Ph.D. in Sociology (IUPERJ, Brazil). Before coming to Austin, he has been a Professor of Economics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) for 16 years, the same place where he majored. Between 2012-2013, he was Visiting Professor at Princeton University, where he was a member of the Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA). He is the author of several books and articles about race and labor relations in Brazil, among others: A Lenda da Modernidade Encantada (Ed. CRV) e 500 Años de Soledad: estudíos sobre las desigualdades raciales en Brasil (Ed. Universidad Nacional de Colombia). In 2018, he was tenured Vice-President of the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA). His area of expertise is ethnic and racial relations and inequalities in Brazil and Latin America.

Cloteal Davis Haynes is CEO of Haynes-Eaglin-Waters, LLC.(HEW), a construction and consulting firm established in Austin in 1988.

Ms. Haynes serves as the President of The Precursors, a group of African American alumni who share the distinction of being among the first African American students to attend The University of Texas at Austin more than 40 years ago. Their goal is to ensure that future generations of African American students are successful at the university.

She has a BA from the University of Texas and an MPA from the UT’s LBJ School of Public Affairs. She has been employed in various positions in the public sector including Policy Analyst in the administration of President Jimmy Carter, Special Assistant to Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services and a planning supervisor for the City of Austin.

Tam Hawkins is the President and CEO of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce. Prior to this role, she served as the Vice President of Corporate Engagement & Membership. Her background includes a primary concentration in Corporate Sales & Marketing management roles for some of the nation’s most admired companies. Although well versed in large corporate space, the local commercial real estate development entrepreneur is also able to relate to small to medium business owners as well. The Dallas native’s volunteer commitments have been directly in line with her passion for the following local, national, and international organizations: Sickle Cell Disease Association Dallas Chapter, Special Events Chair; Literacy Instructions for Texans –Volunteer Teacher; Airline Ambassadors –United Nations Liaison; and Susan G. Komen: Dallas Affiliates Chapter –Fundraising committee. Tam is a board member of the East Austin Conservancy; a group committed to strengthening the fabric of East Austin by promoting affordable housing and economic diversity. She also currently serves on Leadership Austin, Texas Lyceum, ECHO, Austin Revitalization Authority and Ronald McDonald House Central Texas boards.

Paulo Rogério Nunes is Vale do Dendê CEO. Advertiser and entrepreneur. Co-founder of Instituto Mídia Étnica (Ethnic Media Institute), of Portal Correio Nagô (Correio Nagô Web Portal) and consultant in diversity. Holding extensive experience in the study of multicultural markets and social innovation, he has traveled to 20 countries participating in activities on the theme of diversity. In 2011, he received a Fulbright Professional Fellowship at the University of Maryland (USA) to study “Journalism and New Media.” He is also lecturer and consultant at Casé Fala, an Ashoka Fellow and alumni at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University. Paulo was one of 11 leaders chosen for a private meeting in Sao Paulo with former President Barack Obama, which resulted in an invitation to speak at the opening of the Obama Foundation in Chicago.