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Black Founders Panel: Meet Black Entrepreneurs that are Bringing Change to St. Louis

Wednesday, February 22, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Office of Technology Management, 4240 Duncan Ave, Suite 110 St. Louis, MO United States

Join us at Cortex for an opportunity to meet and connect with three Black entrepreneurs who are bringing change to the St. Louis region. This session will get every entrepreneur excited about how the ecosystem is being built to support Black founders. It will also give you a chance to understand what St. Louis needs to do to create a space to help Black founders succeed.

Meet the panel:

Gamu Gandawa, Founder of YKG Crafts

Gamu is a Senior IT Project Manager and founder of YKG crafts. She creates bespoke African couture designs, ready to wear, and African print jewelry. Gamu moved to the United States for a BS in biology at Truman State University and will forever be indebted to the African Students Association where she found her love for African print. She started YKG crafts in 2012 as an African print jewelry company before expanding into clothing design.

Gamu utilizes the skills from her career as an IT Project Manager to better manage YKG crafts and to continue telling African inspired stories. She also explores different fabric textures and ethnic colors that represent not only Zimbabwe but also Africa.


J.P. Johnson, Director of Venture Café St. Louis

J.P. is Director of Venture Café St. Louis, one of eleven Cafés across the globe. Their mission is to “connect innovators to make things happen all over the world” by facilitating serendipitous collisions” of innovators and entrepreneurs through freely accessible high-impact programming and events” with the singular goal of improving the human condition through innovation.

Mr. Johnson is also the inaugural Chair of the Black Caucus for the State of Missouri’s Democratic Party. Their mission is “to promote the involvement of Blacks in the political process and the activities of the Democratic Party at the local, state, and national level” with an expressed purpose to “advocate for public policies which promote the needs of the Black community and the state at large” and “recognizes the need for inclusive representation throughout the Democratic Party, and seeks to advance political participation among Blacks throughout the State.”


Michelle Robinson, Founder of DEMIblue™ Clean and Vegan Nail Polish

Michelle has serviced the St. Louis healthcare system at Washington University as a Clinical Administrator for over 11 years, and served as a Proprietary Educator for 10 years. Her journey with the creation of DEMIblue Nail Polish was started as a desire to help her cancer-surviving mom through the creation of this personal nail polish brand. DEMIblue is now disrupting the nail care industry by not only educating women of the toxic chemicals found in many conventional brands and offering a healthier choice, but gaining retail placement as one of a few African American Female owned nail polish brands across the nation to do so.

Michelle has an M.B.A. in Business Administration, a MBA in Managerial Science, a B.A. in Organizational Development, is a Registered Medical Assistant and Licensed Manicurist. DEMIblue was awarded the 2020 Beauty Brand of the Year Award Winner and has earned over $100K business grants.


Reserve your spot today!




February 22
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Event Tags:


Office of Technology Management
4240 Duncan Ave, Suite 110
St. Louis, MO United States
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