The entrepreneurial genius of Marcus Garvey
An extraordinary life of accomplishment
Marcus Garvey is probably best remembered as a prolific rights activist that campaigned throughout his life towards the uplift of black people throughout the diaspora. But in this article I am going to draw attention in particular to all the entreprenerial accomplishments that this great man achieved.
Garvey was born in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica in 1887. In 1910 he started travelling extensively through Central America, Europe and the Caribbean. His observations drew him to the conclusion that all blacks were impoverished regardless of their geographical location. He then decided to take action.
1. In 1914 he returned to Jamaica and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association in order to unite all people of African ancestry.
2. In 1917 Garvey established the New York branch of U.N.I.A with 13 members. Within 3 months the number of people paying membership had reached 3,500
3. By 1919 the membership had grown to over 2 million members and by 1920 the organisation had 1,100 branches in 40 different countries around the world. By 1926 the membership had grown to over 6 million
4. In 1918 Garvey established 'The Negro World' newspaper. The newspaper reached a circulation of 500,000 and was printed in several languages.
5. In 1919 the U.N.I.A bought it's first two Liberty Halls. All of the speeches that Garvey gave filled the six thousand capacity hall in New York.
6. Later during the same year, the U.N.I.A started two steamship companies.
7. 1919 Garvey founded the Negro Factories Corporation and allowed African Americans to purchase stock. He managed to raise $1 million for the enterprise. He succeeded in creating an income which provided work, established a chain of grocery stores, restauants, steam laundry, a tailor shop, dress making shop, a publishing house and a doll factory.
8. In New York, Garvey owned seven buildings, a fleet of trucks and had over 1,000 people working in his businesses.
9. Garvey's most salient venture was 'The Black Star Line'. It was a shipping company that began operating in 1919 with $10 million of investmant to promote trade and to transport passengers to Africa. Shares were sold individually at $5 dollars each to both members and non-members of the U.N.I.A Profits from the stock were used to buy the S.S .Yarmouth and then the S.S. Shadyside.
10. The Shadyside was used for summer cruises and also leased to other companies.
11. Later, The Black Star line added a third boat, 'The Kanawha to it's fleet.
12. The income from multiple business ventures enabled the U.N.I.A to purchase more Liberty Halls in the USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Jamaica and a few other nations. The organisation also bought land in Ohio as well as other states.
13. In 1926 U.N.I.A opened Liberty University. The complex included seven buildings and sixty six acres of land along St. James' River.
14. Garvey's Black Cross nurses were fashioned after those of The Red Cross. They were professionally trained and provided aid work in black communities and health work.
15. The female members of the Universal African Motor Corps were formally trained to drive and repair cars and trained in military discipline.
16. Garvey also established the Black Eagle Flying Corps that taught it's members how to fly airplanes.
In fact, it's Garvey's quote “Be black, Buy black, Think black, and all else will take care of itself” that inspired so many other leaders after him such as Elijah Mohammed, Martin Luther King and Louis Farrakhan.
One man's drive and commitment established so many enterprises in such a short space of time. Garvey started out with nothing but in an era with no web, digital services or technological advancements we have today, made his influence felt all around the world.