Gay DC business owner to run 100-mile ultramarathon - Washington Blade

Gay DC business owner to run 100-mile ultramarathon - Washington Blade

Gay DC business owner to run 100-mile ultramarathon - Washington Blade

Posted: 01 Apr 2021 03:00 AM PDT

Brandt Ricca (Photo by Jonathan Thorpe/jthorpephoto)

Brandt Ricca will begin a non-stop 100-mile ultramarathon at 6 a.m. on Oct. 7 while most D.C. residents will still be sipping their morning coffee.

In a year of isolation and economic downturn, Ricca decided to run 100 miles in two days to benefit local, LGBTQ-owned businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Ricca, who's lived in D.C. for 10 years, is donating the money he raises to the Capital Pride Alliance and Equality Chamber of Commerce, where he has been a member since 2018.

The gay entrepreneur and owner of the D.C.-based business Nora Lee by Brandt Ricca understands first-hand how the ongoing pandemic affects small businesses, particularly LGBTQ-owned companies.

"I definitely want to give back to the community and local colleagues, especially because Capitol Pride has been now canceled two years in a row," Ricca said.

Out of the funds raised, 90 percent will go towards funding 20 small business grants through the Equality Chamber of Commerce and the remaining 10 percent will go towards supporting Capital Pride Alliance.  

Brandt, already an avid runner and self-described "fitness explorer," decided after crowdsourcing ideas to pursue the 100-mile project. Ricca has been a frequent visitor at the Equinox Anthem Row in D.C. to prepare for the run.

"I was looking to do my next fitness endeavor, at the same time wanting to do something to get back to the fellow business owners in D.C.," he said.

Applications for the 20 grants of various sizes for LGBTQ businesses are projected to open this summer through the Equality Chamber of Commerce, Ricca said. His goal is to raise $100,000 from individuals and companies. The grants will be distributed in October following the completion of the run.

Equality Chamber of Commerce Vice President Riah Gonzales-King is in the process of developing grants and additional summer educational programming to help young LGBTQ entrepreneurs and students start their businesses.

"So much of the culture centers around these businesses, many of which have been around for decades," Gonzales-King said. "They're pillars of the community — their owners are pillars in the community. And I think it's time that we gave back."

Helping LGBTQ entrepreneurs specifically at this time is essential, Ricca said, especially entrepreneurs in the creative and hospitality industry.

Ricca began training in February with the help of several exercise experts like Brian Mazza, a New York City fitness entrepreneur who ran 50 miles last December to raise awareness for male infertility stigma. The former Men's Health headliner is guiding Ricca's physical training, which has been a near-daily routine. Ricca was inspired by Mazza's run in the first place.

Ricca reached out to Mazza over Instagram to get his assistance and training.

Mazza said Ricca reaching out over Instagram "meant the world."

"I believe what he's doing for his cause is remarkable," Mazza said. "It's important. I'm happy that he's standing up for what he believes in and helping these businesses and helping individuals in general."

Jacob Zemer, a coach and nutritionist, has designed a daily nutrition program for Ricca to prepare him for the run. Zemer and Mazza have been working together throughout the process to track Ricca's health and progress.

The two fitness experts work with Ricca multiple times a day to monitor his diet, mileage, heart rate and pace monitoring. Both Mazza and Zemer said Ricca'a training has been successful.

"Brandt's an excellent individual," Zemer said. "He's very easy to work with. He's highly coachable, he's a pleasure to talk to every day."

Pacers Running will be sponsoring and designing Ricca's 100-mile route throughout the D.C. region. The company is also working with Ricca to design specific shoes for the ultramarathon.

Pacers Running CEO Kathy Dalby won "Best Straight Ally" in the Washington Blade's 2019 Best of Gay D.C.

"I really wanted someone local who could really guide me on a route," Ricca said.

Elyse Braner, a community lead at Pacers Running and longtime friend to Ricca, said the local business was excited to collaborate with Brandt because of an alignment of values.

"As a community, inclusivity and diversity is extremely important to Pacers Running," Braner said. "As a small business, we really appreciated that Brandt wanted to do an event that supported small businesses — specifically LGBTQ businesses."

Originally an event-planning business, Nora Lee debuted in 2018 on the second annual Allison Gala, a fundraising event benefiting the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, which Brandt created in memory of a family friend. He's worked with a range of clients, including the Dupont Circle Hotel and Sotheby's Real Estate.

Looking back at events on his website, he said he found himself bored with the photography. This led him to focus on creative marketing and decided to pivot his business model at the beginning of the pandemic. Now, Ricca provides photography and video shoots for clients.

"When COVID hit I decided to, like every business owner, I revisited my plan," he said. "I really enjoyed the creative branding more in the photo shoot. So I decided to pivot strictly to just a full-on creative branding agency."

The training for the 100-mile run has provided a stable routine for Ricca, which has helped him get through the pandemic, he said. Ricca is planning to create a campaign this summer inviting LGBTQ entrepreneurs to do their version of 100 miles, with the hope it will provide positive stability in their lives as it does in his.

"Obviously, people think I'm crazy for doing this," Ricca said. "All the uncertainty out there right now – with business, with clients, with whatever; I needed an anchor. Something that was going to be a routine for me that I can control."

APWA gives training to 25 entrepreneurs - The News International

Posted: 03 Apr 2021 06:00 PM PDT

LAHORE : The All Pakistan Women's Association (APWA) has embarked on a training programme for youth, ILO-SIYB (Start and Improve Your Business). Training of the first batch of entrepreneurs concluded in the City recently in which 25 people received training. Each one of them had a business idea.

Durre Shahwar, CEO of APWA who took this initiative to train people under the ILO-SIYB programme said, "We want to help people convert hobbies into bankable business ideas." The plan is to impart trainings in 14 districts. Durre Shahwar is one of the trainers besides Tajammul Hussain, a founder member of COMSATS and a highly experienced teacher. The trainers got training from a master trainer from ILO, David Katenderi from Uganda who is here to monitor the trainers imparting trainings. SIYB has global master trainers who train trainers.

The ILO master trainer informed that the SIYB programme has been conducted in more than 100 countries and 9 million people have been trained under it. They are running businesses under micro, small and medium enterprises.

"The first package was 'business idea generation' which took 3 days. 'Start your business' took 4 days and 'Improve you business' was conducted for 3 days," Katenderi said.

"We train aspiring entrepreneurs in marketing, financial planning and record keeping – these are very important in business management. This programme gives people jobs," Katenderi said.

"Pakistan has very few trainers, so Pakistan has to develop many trainers to start and improve business. Uganda has got 14 master trainers in a population of 40 million people. Pakistan has one master trainer in a population of 240 million people," he said.

Every person who starts a business builds a team so businesses generate employment. The training activity sponsored by APWA is solely its CEO Durre Shahwar's initiative. Among those trained were more girls than boys and they were full of scintillating ideas.

A girl wanted to do bio-flock fish farming available throughout the year. Another girl wanted to venture into Tourism – take trips to northern areas. Yet another girl wanted to be a cable service provider in her area. There were young men with computer game-making plans and also for gaming zone. Dress designers were many. One said she wanted to make a matching mask with the dresses she would sell. She didn't see masks leaving us in near future. Another one wanted to make unique dresses – a cultural mix. A boy wanted to venture into printing business, make printing attractive. Only one girl wanted to open a Montessori school. She was a trained Montessori teacher as well who said this calls for capital she will have to generate but was very hopeful. All these trainees were making feasibilities of their businesses when The News got to talk to them.


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