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Barnabas Uba Shakur
Small Business Owner and Father in Brooklyn, New York
An internationally recognized and multi-award winning social entrepreneur. Barnabas is originally from the slums of Trinidad and son of a well-known, but broke Calypsonian. His mother desperate for better opportunities migrated to the USA with him and his elder brother. The transition was drastic; the 80's and 90's Brooklyn brought on a different type of poverty. Just barely coming out of the crack epidemic, gangs, drugs, violence, poor family structures and failing schools were rampant.
Completely disconnected from his father, he grew up in Bed-Stuy on practically a fatherless block. Adapted to Bed-Stuy by his teenage years, he began writing and performing amazing poetry. By his late teens he was performing from the West Coast to the East of America. In 2000 his poetic skills gave him the opportunity to perform at Russell Simmons Hampton’s estates for a fundraiser. He had such an impact on Russell Simmons and his team that he was offered an internship under Russell and his executives at Phat Farm. This experience proved to ignite his passion for entrepreneurship.
One year later at the age of 21 to his surprise, his closest friend only 19 at the time, was arrested, tried and found guilty of murder, receiving a life-sentence at a maximum-security prison, Barnabas was devastated. His friend belonged to a notorious gang that strives in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, known as the "Bloods.” Barnabas wanted to help, but with no money and resources what could he do?
That same year his elder brother joined the military and returned from boot camp with a full business plan handwritten, single spaced and double sided in a 150 page composition notebook; completely inspired by the detail of starting a business and broken by his friends situation he began writing his own plan that would change the lives of hundreds of teens to follow. In 2002, he gathered 50 teens/young adults, loaner tools from the Department of Sanitation and launched a recurring block-by-block cleaning campaign that was unheard of in Bed-Stuy. In 2003, with his brother and a few other volunteers he gathered a board and legally formed Bed Stuy’s Project Re-Generation as a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization where he served hundreds of teenagers until 2016. In 2016 he launched Foot Soldiers, LLC. That's enough for now!