Sep 23rd, 2020 |
Ezinne Kalu-Phelps (Nigeria): Basketball & Entrepreneurship
2019 Women's Afrobasket MVP, Ezinne Kalu plays for the reigning African champions, Nigeria's D'Tigress. While most know Ezinne for her talent on the court, she's also jumped headfirst into the world of entrepreneurship; she's launched her own cosmetics company, Kalu Kosmetics, and an organization empowering young girls who want to play basketball, the Kalu Team Heat.
This episode explores Ezinne's entrepreneurial drive and commitment to uplift the Black community, as well as the connection between bias and entrepreneurship.
Experts interviewed include Ezinne's father, Mr. Kalu, teammate and coach, Ndidi Madu, Founder and CEO, wovoyage, Rashmi Chadha, and Harvard Business School Assistant Professor, Dr. Laura Huang.
Audio clip from Fiba's 'Kalu saves Nigeria in the last seconds! - 2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament'
Welcome to this episode of Flame Bearers, a podcast highlighting the women athletes who are carrying Tokyo’s torch. Some high performing athletes become successful entrepreneurs, while others see financial success at height of their careers and go broke soon after, but what about the super-humans who launch ventures in the middle of their career? Learn about one professional basketball player who has done just this—Ezinne Kalu. Ezinne is on a trajectory of promising success that will extend far beyond her athletic career. Colliding the otherwise, seemingly separate, worlds of sports and business, Ezinne shows the necessary traits that both require: teamwork, resilience, and focus.
Ezinne is proud to represent her father’s home country of Nigeria and looks back at these roots to see how much she has grown. While she’s always felt supported by her family, the journey was not always easy. Ezinne’s go-getter mentality has helped her succeed in all areas of life! Learn the importance of considering life after sports for all athletes, but especially women. With her drive to start new initiatives, Ezinne began the Kalu Team Heat, in partnership with the New Jersey Heat, to empower youth and teach them life-skills, that they may not usually have access to.
But, what sets Ezinne apart in an even more unique way? Learn about her passion for makeup, heels, and dresses; she’s not afraid to be herself! Ezinne thrives with the opportunity to embody two colliding worlds—sports and cosmetics. Listen to the of embarrassing story that drove her cosmetic obsession into an entrepreneurial endeavor. In 2017, Ezinne came out with her own sweat-proof lipstick line. She created Kalu Cosmetics to reach her goals and use her creative juices. Learn more about her vision to eventually open a storefront, and partner with a variety of other black businesses.
What about Ezinne’s experience of support in the black community? Ezinne shares the surprising reality that due to the constant, competitive mindset in the black community. She has not always received much support from them directly. While her experience as a woman and black business owner is surprising, hear from another woman entrepreneur in India, to see how her experience compares. Rashmi Chadha started Wovoyage, a company to revolutionize travel for women in India. With her desire to help change a common problem, Rashmi did her research, stayed strong, and pushed forward to make her passions a reality. What glaring reality connect both womens’ stories? Bias. While Ezinne experienced bias primarily as an athlete, and Rashmi experienced it primarily as a woman—bias is all too common a thread.
Explore bias and entrepreneurship with Dr. Laura Huang, author of Edge. She explains that the premise of hard work looks at success and outcomes, but this alone is not enough. Find out about how biases depend on surrounding context and stereotypes. Both warmth and competence collide for the stereotypical gender role expectations. Race, ethnicity, and class play into these perceptions. But, how do you combat the biases people have against you? Many unsatisfying solutions because they are structural, what about practical solutions for individuals? Learn about empowerment from within these imperfect systems how we can re-direct people to a positive manifestation of their perceptions. While there are barriers that must be faced, Ezzine illustrates how to strategically go around them. Don’t miss her final advice—be proud of yourself and make the best of any situation!
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Learn more about Ezinne Kalu
Follow Ezine on Instagram and Twitter
Learn more about Wovoyage
Connect with Rashmi Chadha on LinkedIn
Find Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage on Amazon
Check out more on Laura Huang