Russell Hicks, founder of Ebony Suns Enterprises in Philadelphia, is a true social entrepreneur–meaning, he seeks to use innovative business solutions to address social problems in his community. Through Ebony Sun Enterprises, the 37-year-old Hicks provides sustainable business consulting to individuals and organizations, and actively contributes to the community by mentoring urban youth and creating social entrepreneurship programs.Â He currently works with more than 75 young entrepreneurs through various green industry sectors including eco-tourism, sustainable real estate, organic apparel design and merchandising.
Hicks is the grand prize winner of the first Cricket Community Stars: Salute to Solopreneurs contest. Launched in October of 2014, the contest recognizes solo entrepreneurs who make it a priority to provide positive contributions to the community. As grand prize winner, Hicks will receive $5,000, and one year of complimentary service on Cricket’s reliable, nationwide 4G LTE network. Cricket is a subsidiary of AT&T.
“Cricket Wireless is a community brand that supports organizations making a difference in the neighborhoods where our customers live, work and play,” says Jermaine Spight, Senior Public Relations Manager.
Finalists Zondra Hughes, founder of Six Brown Chicks, and Michael Ferrera, founder of Michael Ferrera Custom Clothing were awarded 2nd– and 3rd-place prize packages and will respectively receive $2,500 and six months of complimentary service, and $1,000 and three months of complimentary service from Cricket.
Additionally, Hicks, Hughes and Ferrera will each receive a Samsung Galaxy SÂ® 5 courtesy of Samsung Telecommunications America. The Samsung Galaxy S 5 delivers simplified control and experiences on a brilliant 5.1-inch display, a 16 megapixel rear- facing camera, lightning fast data connections, and health and wellness monitoring to help solopreneurs stay connected to their world, community, friends and family at home or on the go.
The Cricket Community Stars: Salute to Solopreneurs contest was open to residents of Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. All entries were reviewed and evaluated by Cricket before being narrowed down to three finalists who recorded video entries which were uploaded to the Cricket YouTube channel for further social media engagement.
Chicago-born Hicks moved to the City of Brotherly Love after finishing his college career at Howard University. He moved to Philadelphia and has been helping hundreds of young black Philadelphians become entrepreneurs ever since. Prior to embarking out on entrepreneurship, stints include serving as the business education director for The Enterprise Center, where he taught and managed a social entrepreneurship program for young men, ages 18-25, from under-resourced communities. Last year, Hicks won the Knight Foundation’s $20,500 Black Male Engagement Award