Sustaining the Diversity of Cincinnati Communities

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Dec 9, 2019 Common Future

Derrick Braziel recognized that entrepreneurs in his hometown of Cincinnati were unable to attract startup capital from traditional lenders. At the same time, he noticed many white-owned businesses popping up around the city, a large number of black and brown residents – many of them lacking access to knowledge, resources, and opportunities – were being left behind.

Derrick founded MORTAR alongside Allen Woods and William Thomas in 2014 to build communities through entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs in the community can access their 15-week business training accelerator and opportunities for funding; as well as a revolving pop-up shop called Brick OTR. Derrick has made it his mission to ensure that all people in Cincinnati are able to not only participate, but enjoy the fruits of Cincinnati’s incredible renaissance. 

By leveraging relationships and hands-on advisors within the Common Future Fellowship network, including Harold Pettigrew and Jessica Norwood, Derrick developed the Iron Chest, an early-stage investment fund that meets entrepreneurs where they are with flexible, timely capital.

Derrick is an Echoing Green Fellow, as well as one of 20 fellows selected for the 2019 Obama Fellowship. See more in this video on how Mortar supports underrepresented entrepreneurs in Cincinnati.


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