Turning Family Tradition Into an Entrepreneurial Legacy

Samantha Abrams was born with an entrepreneurial spirit. It all began with her grandmother’s natural ability to create products that her community in Guyana needed and adored. 

“Although she may not have been referred to as an entrepreneur during her time, she demonstrated remarkable business acumen. Her first product was a baby formula made from sun-dried green plantains,” Abrams recalls. “She also baked bread and delicious treats, sending my 10-year-old mother to school to sell them. With every successful sale, my mother returned with earnings, and my grandmother astutely reinvested that money—an action that resonates profoundly with our contemporary understanding of business practices.” 

Her grandmother may not have known at the time, but her business laid the foundation for a lineage of entrepreneurship for generations to come.

How has your grandmother’s legacy impacted your life and career?

“As for myself, I wear many hats–a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, CEO, entrepreneur, and passionate legacy builder. I was born and raised in Georgetown, Guyana, South America, a beautiful country that stands as the sole English-speaking nation on the continent. Positioned at the northernmost tip, it shares borders with Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname.

My personal journey is deeply intertwined with a heritage of entrepreneurship, beginning with my grandmother. When I contemplate my own identity and the driving force behind it, I cannot help but pay homage to my grandmother and mother and the profound impact they’ve had on my path.”

As we celebrate Juneteenth, what should Americans know about the importance of this holiday and its impact on business?

“Juneteenth, a significant day in our history that represents the ongoing celebration and fight of our liberation. It holds particular importance as we reflect on the rich legacy of entrepreneurship within the Black community, which has been a powerful catalyst for creating generational wealth. Black entrepreneurs play a vital role in driving the American economy forward by introducing innovative products, methods, and production processes, thereby fueling productivity and competition on a broader scale. Moreover, Black entrepreneurs not only create employment opportunities for themselves but also for others, contributing to the growth and prosperity of communities.” 

How has your journey in business and in leadership evolved over the years?

“In the late 90s, during my college years, I embarked on a business plan assignment that would shape the course of my life. Sapodilla’s Caribbean Restaurant was born out of a desire to see my parents become business owners again, but this time, in America. Now, almost 17 years later, our thriving restaurant and catering business is preparing to open a second location in historic Anacostia, Washington, DC. This personal journey is a testament to the power of entrepreneurship in creating lasting legacies because I’ve gone on to found several other ventures both in and beyond our American borders. I know there is an inherent gift of entrepreneurship in my DNA and I’ve leaned all the way in, often failing up.

As a part of that entrepreneurial spirit, I’m now leading Walker’s Legacy which serves as a powerful springboard for Black women and women of color entrepreneurs and the ecosystems that support their growth. Our mission is to cultivate a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem because we recognize that when we start businesses, they become the launchpads of generational legacies for our communities. We approach this responsibility with utmost seriousness, as we acknowledge that existing systems often fail to support our unique experiences, motivations, and aspirations as entrepreneurs. To succeed in this endeavor, we foster a culture of interdependency, collaborating with co-creators and partners to break down silos and provide culturally-competent resources, tools, connections, and capital stacks to the entrepreneurs we serve. The economic disparities that have been magnified by the pandemic highlight the urgent need to create pathways so that Black entrepreneurs can walk in their power.” 

Tell us about your vision for supporting the trajectory of Black woman-identifying founders.

“When Black women start businesses, we do so not only to create generational wealth but also to drive positive change and leave behind a meaningful legacy. As a practitioner of manifestation, I am rooted in a lineage that has guided me through this realm, and I recognize the importance of celebrating African Americans’ triumphs and struggles during Juneteenth. However, we must also acknowledge the historical silences and gaps that exist, reflecting the dangers faced by African American throughout history. The daunting projection that it would take Black people 228 years to catch up to white wealth is not something we can accept. We refuse to wait for generations to pass, as we are determined to create a better future for ourselves and our children. By 2045, if not sooner, this country will reflect the diversity of its people, and it is essential that we position ourselves to thrive in this changing landscape.

The work we do to best equip and support Black women entrepreneurs in particular goes beyond mere challenges; it is driven by passion and a deep sense of purpose. We believe we are called to this mission, and we are committed to making a meaningful impact. At Walker’s Legacy, I embrace my role as a messenger, delivering our collective declaration that Black women deserve to be seen not only as individuals with great ideas but as natural-born entrepreneurial and innovative business leaders. This is our identity and our legacy.”

What does the future of business look like for Black entrepreneurs?

“Fueling the growth of Black entrepreneurs presents one of the most significant economic opportunities of our time. While we may not have all the answers, we approach challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation. We firmly believe that solutions already exist; it’s all about how we choose to perceive and approach them. If you are asking the question, it means you recognize the potential for change and progress.

The path to economic empowerment for Black entrepreneurs is not an easy one, but it is a path we are determined to walk and win. We reject the notion of waiting centuries for progress and instead choose to seize the present moment and shape a future where our contributions are recognized, valued, and celebrated. Let us unite in our pursuit of economic growth, innovation, and generational legacy-building, knowing that we have the power to transform our communities and leave a lasting impact on this world. Together, we can make history and create a brighter future for all.”

To learn more about the history of Juneteenth, visit The National Museum of African American History and Culture. Head to Walker’s Legacy to read more about Samantha Abrams and her team’s impact on the untapped entrepreneurial potential of multicultural women.

Samantha Abrams & Jackie Gutierrez

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