Meet

  The

    Founders

Kimberlee Williams

Kimberlee S. Williams

co-founder, Chief Executive Officer

Kimberlee S Williams is the social impact catalyst on a mission to propel the growth of 1 million entrepreneurs. 

In fall of 2004, when Kimberlee co-founded FEMWORKS cultural marketing agency in her living room in Montclair NJ, her first self-funded business faced the same challenges that Black and Brown entrepreneurs face today, poor business skills, scarce funds, and a feeble business network.
Kimberlee’s  journey  was supported by people and organizations that helped her to overcome these barriers and realize her unique entrepreneur vision. 
The  path she chose in social entrepreneurship elevated her to become  TED.com‘s speaker on The New Majority, the World Economic Forum leader of Global Shapers, director of communications and marketing at Rutgers University-Newark, and co-founder of two social impact organizations, Forward Ever Sustainable Business Alliance and New Jersey LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

Thrive

Own

Inspire

Open your own shop; secure prosperity and freedom.

— Madame C. J. Walker
Kimberlee’s latest work, Newark Business Hub program delivered in partnership with Rutgers University, helps companies  and non-profits across the US and around the world  to empower Black and Brown entrepreneurs by providing them with  business skills, mentorship and a supportive community, must-haves to succeed today.   As a thought leader, she helps corporate social responsibility leaders and non-profits to make a difference in the lives of real people, and communicate the value of their impact to the world.

With experience working behind the scenes and at the forefront at a myriad of events, Kimberlee is a super connector with robust expertise as a marketing and communications powerhouse.

 She is the go-to expert on the Black people, Black women, Black excellence and the Black economy. 

Kimberlee Williams

Jeff Billingsley

Co-founder, Chief Curriculum Officer

Visionary and Global Entrepreneur

Jeff Billingsley is CEO of Cobblestone Multimedia, a Multimedia Company that comprises a music, film & television production group, casting agency, and professional audio recording services located in Newark, NJ. He studied Business at Essex County College and Rutgers University in Newark, NJ, holds a Mini MBA in Digital Media Marketing from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ and is a Leadership Newark Alumni. He currently stands at the helm of several apprenticeship programs for youth and adults in partnership with Rutgers University, Essex County College, and the Berklee College of Music City Music Network. Jeff is also an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Rutgers Business School, Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development as a Co-founder of the Newark Business Hub and our affiliate programs in Memphis, Cuba, and South Africa. Jeff also serves as the Assistant Director of the Rutgers University-Newark, Office of Communications.

 

Billingsley has always yearned to make a positive difference in the lives of underserved youth and adults globally. He created several ventures as a result of his appreciation of the entertainment industry and the untapped potential it represented as a personal and professional resource for residents in urban areas. Billingsley is the recipient of the 2016 Newark NAACP 102nd Freedom Fund Entrepreneurial Award and his resume includes notable positions such as Executive Producer of The Birth of Def, Who is Bob Sumner? documentary. Producer and Music Consultant for the award winning feature film, “Gimme Shelter” starring Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser, and the legendary James Earl Jones that is currently airing on Netflix.

Associate Producer for the award winning and critically acclaimed short film “Ugly” that was also screened at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France. “Ugly” is currently airing on Amazon Prime Video and HBO Go. Co-producer of the award winning short film “Catch A Girl”. Music Supervisor for the award winning documentary “Killing Beef: Gun Violence In The Black Community”. Associate Producer and Music Supervisor for the award winning docu-drama, “Surviving the Streets”.  Jeff is also a member of The Quincy Jones Music Consortium

Our Story

Newark Business Hub demo, 2015.

In 2015, Newark, NJ  witnessed an extraordinary moment of organic entrepreneurial energy. The city boasted an ecosystem of scrappy entrepreneurs who were executing their visions across a  wide array of creative fields.  These entrepreneurs were budding  just as Newark hit a critical inflection point in its economic growth.
In the midst of Newark’s percolating, Kimberlee Williams conceived of the Newark Business Hub, developed a pitch deck and started to talk to prospective partners and investors about the NBH strategy to empower her peers, other Black and Brown creative entrepreneurs.  Soon after, she partnered with Jeff Billingsley, CEO of Cobblestone Multimedia LLC.  Through Cobblestone Multimedia, Jeff operates several apprenticeship programs for youth and adults in partnership with Rutgers University, Essex County College, and the Berklee College of Music City Music Network.   The two entrepreneurs then partnered with Lyneir Richardson, Executive Director, Rutgers Business School, Center for Urban Entrepreneurship at Rutgers Business School, to provide resources and coaching to  creative individuals at the tipping-point of their business success and, in so doing, marshal and multiply the economic reach of their contributions.
Newark Business Hub and Rutgers CUEED took a bold step through collaboration

But what if these entrepreneurs had access to the resources, and a formal support network to help them think critically about how to become profitable, these businesses can achieve viability, get to sustainability, and become positioned for greater citywide and regional impact?

The Newark Business Hub program received a seed grant from Rutgers University-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor as part of her strategy to grow area startups and provide them access to student talent and multimedia and art production facilities at Express Newark. To pilot the program in 2015, entrepreneurs Kimberlee Williams and Jeff Billingsley partnered with Lyneir Richardson, Executive Director of Rutgers Business School Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. Newark Business Hub and Rutgers CUEED recruited the first cohort of 23 Black and Brown entrepreneurs through regional competitive application process. The inaugural class of entrepreneurs were known leaders representing an array of creative industries and a reflection of Newark’s rich cultural diversity.

Rutgers CUEED and NBH delivered the business management program in 2016, as a 6-month immersive experience with live in classroom instruction once weekly, one-on-one financial and business coaching, social networking events, podcasts, and industry speaker series. All 23 entrepreneurs graduated from the program.

By the Numbers

%

Still Operational

%

Made New Connections

%

Increased Revenue

%

Will Hire New Staff in the Next Three Years

Newark Business Hub provided access to business courses; sponsors in media and arts professions; strategic professional services (i.e. accountants and lawyers); high-quality business planning services; consultation on marketing strategies; expert advice on operating strategies; and access to production space and equipment.
The entrepreneurs in the program received the help they needed to achieve market differentiation, market awareness and penetration, operational efficiency and greater profitability.

While Newark Business Hub continued to develop its business model to reach entrepreneurs in New Jersey, and beyond, the organization pursued partnerships in South Africa, led an American delegation of Black business owners to Havana, Cuba, and established its first affiliate hub in Memphis, TN with ArtUp organization.

In 2020, Newark Business Hub established its non-profit program the Initiative to Elevate Black and Brown Entrepreneurs.  Later in the year, NBH entered a new partnership with  Rutgers, Office of Continuing and Professional Education to create the the Global Online Entrepreneurship Certificate Program.   Our partnership with Rutgers powers the Newark Business Hub learning community for the Initiative to Elevate Black and Brown Entrepreneurs.

NBH Cohort Graduating Class