Mar 032017

Aaron Walker, CEO of Camelback Ventures, speaks to Warren Easton students during a entrepreneurship panel (via Allstate).

By Claire Byun

A local entrepreneur working to erase the lines of inequality spent last month as one of the honorees of a Black History Month program.

Aaron Walker, CEO of Camelback Ventures, was named a nominee for Allstate’s “Worth Telling” program, which highlights African-Americans around the country working to improve communities. Walker was featured in a video and Allstate officials held discussion panels with students from Warren Easton Charter High School, while also contributing $5,000 to the school’s scholarship fund.

Camelback works with local entrepreneurs with promising ideas, and empower them to enact change in their communities by providing financing, networking and coaching. The goal is to improve New Orleans communities through these start-ups, thereby creating great schools and prosperous communities for everyone.

Camelback focuses its efforts on entrepreneurs of color and women who are working with and in the most underserved areas. Much of those areas, Walker said, don’t have the basic educational facilities that can be found in more prosperous areas of the city.

Walker shared a story where teachers would set up free book dispensaries in their classrooms – with their own money – just so students could a library.

“So, you’re doing all these supplemental things just to give kids things that are assumed are going to be in the space,” Walker said. “And to me that is unacceptable and unsustainable.”

Walker’s efforts aim to erase social lines and, for many, that starts with a fair education. While he said education isn’t a silver bullet to al societal problems, it’s a critical condition to put students on a path to financial success.

Warren Easton students participate on a panel about entrepreneurship (via Allstate).

Ifeyinna Walker, Aaron’s wife, said her children see their entrepreneur parents’s success every day, which gives them a normalized vision business ownership. Both Walkers own their own ventures.

“To be able to see our kids already have that as an example as a very normalized thing, I think that’s also very powerful,” she said.

Over the last two years, Camelback has raised about $6 million for 21 venture projects. Allstate highlighted Walker through their “Worth Telling” program this year, which spotlights African-Americans across the country making an impact in their local community.

Allstate also hosted an African-American entrepreneurship panel at Warren Easton Charter High School – New Orleans’ oldest public high school – late last month. Students were given the chance to learn more about how they can become entrepreneurs and could ask questions about the process.

Warren Easton’s Hall of Fame Scholarship fund also grew a little that day. Allstate donated $5,000 to the school’s Hall of Fame Scholarship fund, which gives students enough money to cover food, housing and book costs for their first year at the college of their choice.

To learn more about Camelback Ventures, or to donate to a new venture, visit its website.

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