Dr. Okeke’s story illustrates the layers of Black history that have shaped the entrepreneurs in our network who have contributed so much to our local economies and our communities in New York and DC.
Dr. Nkem Okeke is in the 1% of Black women entrepreneurs in the United States who have built a multimillion dollar company, and she credits that success in part to the entrepreneurial spirit of her family’s Igbo heritage. The Igbo tribe of Nigeria are known for having a rich history of commerce and culture of determination, and as such, many successful businesses and entrepreneurs have emerged from the Igbo community in Nigeria and around the world. Dr. Okeke and her company Medicalincs are one example of how the spirit of the Igbo tribe manifests in the African diaspora.
“As an Nigerian-American woman, I bring value that cuts across divides and focuses on resilience,” she says. “Like most other Black women entrepreneurs, I had issues being denied opportunities to advance in a corporate world before I chose to start my own company, being denied access to capital, being denied a ‘voice’ or fair play in partnership agreements and so on — but the one workaround is to transform your ‘shell’ again and again, while keeping your core true.”
Dr. Okeke’s story is one of many that illustrate the many layers of Black history that have shaped the entrepreneurs in our network who have contributed so much to our local economies and our communities in New York and DC.
Dr. Okeke started her career as a Primary Care Physician where she says she realized there was a lot that impacts a patient’s health outside the walls of a doctor’s office. Curious about what could be a more holistic approach to healthcare and bolstered by a family of serial entrepreneurs and healthcare professionals, Dr. Okeke explored public health, business administration, and global health, which took her across Africa, Europe, & Asia to see and grasp actionable insights from similarities and differences in healthcare systems and care delivery around the globe. Over the course of more than two decades as a healthcare executive, advisor, physician, change management facilitator, and speaker, her work has improved population health outcomes, addressed healthcare disparities, and delivered multi-million dollar cost savings.
Dr. Okeke founded Medicalincs to advise and support healthcare leaders and organizations on strategic and tech-enabled solutions to enhance implementation framework strategy, improve operational efficiencies and outcomes, and increase revenue. Through Medicalincs, she not only impacts the health of our communities by supporting innovations in healthcare, Dr. Okeke impacts the wealth of the local economy by creating new jobs, an equitable workplace, and deliberately empowering future leaders and women leaders. At Medicalincs, her employees are 90% minority, 80% Black, and 90% of the 80% are women.
With the right support, women-owned businesses with revenues between $250,000 and $1 million are most likely to be able to hire employees; they are more likely than male-owned businesses to hire people from minority backgrounds, and more likely to prioritize community engagement and social responsibility in business practices. Black women-owned businesses just like Dr. Okeke’s are tangibly aiding in closing the racial and gendered wealth gap through the production of new wealth via high-growth entrepreneurship, and improving our communities.
During Black History Month, and every month, a critical part of our mission to fuel the local economy through women business owners means that we must strive to improve the strength, health and wealth of Black women-owned businesses in the communities we serve. One way we can do that is by amplifying the incredible stories that the women in our network hold, like Dr. Okeke.
When asked what advice she may have for our network of women entrepreneurs, she points to identity and opportunity.
“Knowledge is power. First know your worth and the value you bring. Then understand that navigating any terrain starts with your knowledge of what the potential challenges are. Understanding what challenges are unique to you as a Black person, or to you as as woman or a Black woman, and then remember that you are enough—that the value you bring is enough—and then charge forward!” she says.