Members of the Corporate Economic Empowerment Movement are inviting the public to get to know them and support their “mini take-over” of this year’s Los Angeles County Fair September 7-9. The group said they will be celebrating African American culture during the event, with live entertainment and a museum- level exhibit of the Black migration from South to North, from East to West. They will also hold panels, they said, to talk about avenues to success, including leveraging available resources.
CEEM is a member co-op.
“Everyone who purchases a $100 membership is an owner,” explained CEEM Chief Financial Officer and co-founder Kyle Webb.
The dividends pay out like a cash back rewards card, he said, in that the more businesses a purchaser uses that CEEM owns, the more cash back he/ she will get.
“We are looking to establish businesses with people who have a requisite amount of experience and provide them an opportunity to manage these businesses and then buy them from us,” Webb told the Sentinel in a recent interview.
“We would reallocate that capital and do the same thing with another potential business person. We would also provide support services for that business and allow it to grow.”
Members said they created CEEM to increase the turnover of dollars in the black community, starting in the Inland Empire. They aim to do that by increasing the incidence of entrepreneurship.
“Right now in Riverside County, we make up about less than one percent of the business revenue.”
CEEM was started by Kyle’s father Reginald Webb.
“He is a McDonald’s franchisee, and a person who grew up in the community,” Webb said.
As a franchisee, Reginald began to realize that a lot of the Black McDonald’s franchisees weren’t able to have much interaction with the corporation. A lot of them, said Webb, weren’t successful as a result. That was up until the mid 90s.
“At that point he and some of the more successful franchisees got together and stood up to the McDonald’s corporation,” Webb said.
“They were able to strike a deal to rectify that situation, providing equal access to opportunities for growth and development. At the time about 20 percent of the Black franchisees were successful.
“And now, about 80 percent of the Black franchisees are successful. So he is taking that same approach, and saying, ‘We should do the same thing for black people in general. We should create an opportunity for us to come together to get more of the benefits that come with [living in a] capitalist society.’”
Though CEEM is dedicated to “increasing wealth, prosperity and educational outcomes for the African American community, membership is open to all residents of California who are willing to make contributions in our efforts to promote wealth of African Americans.”
“In a conversation I had with my father and my sister Kiana (also a CEEM co founder), we talked about how you can’t pass down a job but you can pass down a business,” said Webb.
“My dad got into his business to be able to pass that down to his kids. He created this legacy and this generational wealth that will allow us and our future generations to be more successful.”
In 1985, Reggie Webb purchased his first two McDonald’s franchises in Pomona California with his wife Rene, an accountant who ran the back office. In 1997, their oldest Karim Webb purchased a Buffalo Wild Wings and now has four locations in the cities of Torrance, Los Angeles, and Carson. Today, Webb Family Enterprises manages 16 McDonald’s locations. Kiana is the President & COO of Webb Family Enterprises while Kyle works as the CFO of Webb Family Enterprises and CEO of Webb Family Investments. Both are also McDonald’s franchisees, together owning 6 of the franchises.
CEEM founders, said Webb, are emphatic about reaching out and supporting others who are interested in starting and growing businesses.
“We want to change the dynamic so that we own the things that we buy,” he said, using a gas station to illustrate his point.
“So let’s say we purchase a gas station. We get 10,000 members and each member pays $100 for membership,” said Webb.
“That would provide us a million dollars in seed capital. We can then acquire another gas station. We use gas station as an example because there are 300,000 or so black people in the Inland Empire (for instance) and we drive roughly 100,000 cars a day and none of us own a gas station…”
According to their website, CEEM members have a set of core values that include unity, leadership, advocacy, integrity and success. They are explained as follows:
Unity: “Our power is in our unity. Member are owners and everybody’s equal. CEEM Members have an equal voice (one vote) in the decision-making process.”
Leadership: “CEEM uses the exemplary leadership of the Civil Rights Movement to educate and encourage dedication to community, drive results on our behalf.”
Advocacy: “Our strategic direction advances and empowers current and future generations to keep the collective wealth within the communities we serve.”
Integrity: “Our word is our bond! CEEM members operate with integrity, trust, and respect. Integrity in our business dealings, valuing the trust of our community, and operating with a respect for all. These are time-honored values reinforced by CEEM that enable success for the collective and most importantly the advancement of our community.”
Success: “CEEM expands members’ business opportunities in the African-American consumer market by leveraging the collective to support our member businesses. This results in collective economic prosperity that turns dollars over more frequently by providing widely distributed economic benefits, providing a refund of the profit that is proportionate to how much you spend in CEEM owned or incubated businesses.”