J Haleem: I Won’t Starve

Growing up, Jamar “J Haleem” Washington was exposed to seven of the eight members of his household being hooked on drugs.

“They knew they couldn’t tell me to go get a job because they didn’t have jobs.”

He struggled to make ends meet and engaged in white-collar crimes to put himself through college. A felony conviction amplified the disparities in judicial system in the sense that it was a low-level drug selling offense. However, his going to college kept him out of prison.

“Being a student actually kept me from going away to prison multiple times.”

It also kept him from securing the corporate job his college degree qualified him for. J Haleem’s option was to start his own businesses.

“I’ve been through the eviction notices, repossessed cars, and all that. But I was like, I won’t stop. So I used the hashtag #IWontStarve and put it out on social media…it was my way of doing the middle finger, at first. It ended up being a blessing because other people took it differently and gravitated to it positively.”

His non-profit organization was born out of the hashtag. I Won’t Starve Academy provides education and training for entrepreneurs and career development focused on creating successful intrapreneurs.

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