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Mayor Jim Kenney welcomes everyone to the city's 38th annual MED Week. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Mayor Jim Kenney welcomes everyone to the city's 38th annual MED Week. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

Philadelphia kicks off 38th annual MED Week, highlighting diverse businesses and resources

An award ceremony took place to kick off the 2022 Philadelphia MED Week, honoring diverse small business owners making a positive impact to the city.

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Monday, October 3, marks the official start of MED Week in Philadelphia. 

Each year since 1974, Philadelphia has hosted Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week to highlight diverse businesses, support connections, and share resources that help businesses grow. 

“MED Week is an example of what it means to increase access to equitable wealth building opportunities, and envisioning innovative ways for the local economy in Philadelphia to grow,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. 

He commended the thousands of diverse business owners in the region, and especially those who have continued striving amid the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s MED Week in Philadelphia is themed, “Forging the Future: Growing Generational Wealth.”

During the kickoff event to this year’s MED Week, a number of businesses and small business owners were honored for their work in helping drive the city’s economic forward in a positive way. 

The awards were presented by the African American Chamber of Commerce, the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Independent Business Alliance, the Enterprise Center, the Office of Economic Opportunity, and other entities.

The variety of presenters and award recipients were a representation of the diversity of Philadelphia’s diverse business ecosystem. 

Javier Suarez, vice president of strategic partnerships at the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, presented the award on behalf of the Hispanic Chamber.

 Javier Suarez, vice president of strategic partnerships at the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
 Javier Suarez, vice president of strategic partnerships at the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

Prior to presenting the award, he provided two notable statistics regarding the Latino community in the United States.

The first: While the average age of Americans in the U.S. is 38 years old, the average age for Latinos in the U.S. is 28 years old.

“That is a massive, massive gap,” said Suarez. “What it means is that the potential of the Hispanic community has yet to be seen.” 

He also noted that ⅓ of all Latinos in the country are under the age of 18. 

Suarez then proceeded to honor Radhi Fernandez, founder of Faiya Company, a condiment company that sells hot sauces with no sugar, additives or preservatives. 

Fernandez is a native of the Dominican Republic who moved to Philadelphia with his family in 2012. 

His company was launched amid the early months of the pandemic and was born out of a passion of doing good and helping combat food insecurity in the region, even partnering with Philabundance during this endeavor. 

Radhi Fernandez is a Latino entrepreneur, founder and CEO of The Faiya Company. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Radhi Fernandez is a Latino entrepreneur, founder and CEO of The Faiya Company. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

“Starting a business is very difficult, starting a business as a minority is extremely difficult, starting a business as a minority in the middle of a pandemic is a dumb idea,” said Fernandez, leading to a number of chuckles within the crowd.

However, he expressed his gratitude to the Hispanic Chamber, as well as the City, for the support they have given him, qualifying the city’s moniker as, “The City of Brotherly Love.” 

Dr. Xiaobin Li was another one of the award recipients. She is the founder, president and medical director of Everest Medical Group. 

Khine Zaw Arthur, President and CEO of the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, praised Dr. Li for her 20 years of service in internal medicine, caring for patients with health conditions with passion, respect and dignity. 

“Dr. Li is dedicated to meeting the needs of the underserved population and contributing to reducing the healthcare disparities,” said Zaw Arthur. 

As she accepted her award, Dr. Li took the time to speak on her responsibility as a healthcare professional, particularly during a pandemic. 

Dr. Xiaobin Li is an entrepreneur, internal medicine specialist and big proponent of healthcare access. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Dr. Xiaobin Li is an entrepreneur, internal medicine specialist and big proponent of healthcare access. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

“We have faced a lot of challenges. Right now, actually, we are facing another healthcare crisis,” she said.

“We are lacking providers, nurses, doctors [and] a lot of hospitals are even closing lots of programs… so we have much to do, but with the support, with everybody in all our communities, we can do it.” 

Supporting diverse businesses at both the local and national levels are critically important. 

The Minority Business Development Agency, the only federal agency tasked with promoting the growth and competitiveness of diverse-owned businesses, has been around for 53 years. 

However, it was not until last year when President Biden signed the Minority Business Development Act that it was a permanent agency. 

“I’m very proud of that,” said Victoria L. Hosendorf, executive vice president of The Enterprise Center, which has been instrumental in supporting diverse small businesses in the region for over 30 years.

She presented an award to Gene Waddy, CEO of ALPHA Business Solutions, which specializes in providing full-managed payroll services, IT compliance and risk mitigation. Waddy is also the co-founder of Diversity LLC, one of the largest African American IT staffing firms in the country. 

Waddy accepted his award by thinking about his journey in Philadelphia, “a city that has been good to me,” he said. 

He shared that his biggest goal is to generate generational wealth.

“That’s what this is all about,” said Waddy. “That’s what I’m building, my company to pass off to my children… so they are truly free.

Gene Waddy works in the present to build for the future. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Gene Waddy works in the present to build for the future. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

He added that there are three types of freedom: physical freedom, mental/emotional freedom, and financial freedom “to make your own decisions and not have somebody else determine your trajectory in life.” 

The final award went to Senator Sharif Street.

During his remarks, he praised the diversity of this country, calling it our strength.

“And for companies individually, you have to look at it that way,” he added. 

Senator Sharif Street provides remarks, praising the city and country's diversity. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Senator Sharif Street provides remarks, praising the city and country's diversity. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

“When you talk about emerging markets and urban centers, you know, you have people that come from those communities who have a much greater chance of being successful in doing business there. If you talk about emerging markets overseas, having people from immigrant communities that actually understand the cultural complexities of those communities makes you have a better chance of succeeding there,” Street said.

MED Week features more than 30 different events, sessions and workshops across the city all week.

For a full list of sessions planned throughout the week, click here.  

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