My journey began with a profound realization—the belief in “making a way out of no way.” At a young age, I faced numerous obstacles and setbacks while negotiating my environment in a housing project in the South Bronx of New York City. The impact of my exposure to poverty and a low-income socioeconomic background motivated me to seek employment at 14 years of age. This blessed me with various entry-level jobs that gave me invaluable direct contact with individuals of many backgrounds often handling matters that no one else seemed to care about or notice. Dealing with multimillionaire venture capitalists on private bank account issues and senior citizens learning how to use their new technical devices gifted me a skill: how to connect with people. This one vital skill helped me defy societal expectations and pursue my dreams, ultimately establishing myself as a successful entrepreneur and an advocate for positive change.

My unwavering self-belief pushed me forward. You can hear more about this in my TedX talk,Brick City Wall Street.” Through my story, I encourage everyone to embrace their own self-belief and turn their dreams into reality.

My influence extends far beyond my personal achievements. My mission is to empower others, particularly women and marginalized communities. I have provided mentorship, resources, and platforms for individuals, businesses, and organizations to thrive. My transformative power of lifting others up profoundly impacts both individuals and communities. I can attest that one person can make a significant difference in the world. My commitment to helping people find their vegan souls through food, people, events, and culture has ignited a movement, inspiring countless individuals to take action. 

Along the way, I learned the following tips for overcoming adversity:

  • Expand your business by creating inclusiveness that builds bridges rather than walls.
  • Let go of toxic relationships to make room for prosperity.
  • Raise money by collaborating.
  • Connect to your communities by giving back.
  • Find no- to low-cost marketing strategies to expose yourself or brand. 
  • Overcome obstacles through creative thinking.

Naijha Wright-Brown is the executive director of Black Veg Society, a nonprofit organization that meets BIPOC communities where they are on holistic health, plant-based diets, and vegan journeys. Her work centers accessible and sustainable food, with a focus on compassionate lifestyle choices. Naijha is also a partner at The Land of Kush, co-creator of Vegan Soulfest, co-creator of Maryland Vegan Restaurant Month, and host of digital talk show Naijha Speaks, which helps people on a mission to find their vegan souls.

Mercy For Animals is proud to support Black Veg Society as a People’s Fund grantee, and we are grateful for their partnership in our mission to end industrial animal agriculture by constructing a just and sustainable food system.

*This article was written by a People’s Fund grantee and reflects their original thoughts and perspective. Please direct any questions or impressions of their work to their online platforms.