February is Black History Month. While The Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce celebrates all our members throughout the year, this month we are shinning a spotlight on our members within the African American community. Join us all month long for our 2nd annual spotlight series. This special feature helps our communities learn a little more about some of their business leaders who work so hard to make it a community to be proud of.
Today, we would like you to get to know Jamil Abdur-Raoof of Black Viking Brewing.
Jamil is the Co-Founder for Black Viking Brewing. He and his partner Shaun Taylor launched their craft beer brewing company in October 2021. As the first black owned brewing company in Montgomery County, they share one mission, to create a diverse community of beer drinkers where EVERYONE is welcome, and where the warrior spirit is celebrated one brew at a time.
12 Tenets of the Black Viking:
We asked Jamil three important questions. Read his responses below.
Q1. What are some challenges you faced early on that helped prepare you for the role you are in today and how did you overcome them?
Starting out in brewing and craft beer the biggest challenges I faced was first learning how to brew beer and feeling comfortable being one of the few minorities in most craft breweries and homebrew shops. As a company we needed to learn everything from scratch and the curve was steep. We did not have a network who knew the ins and outs of the craft beer scene, especially the regulatory side.
Q2. Who/What is your biggest inspiration in both your personal and professional life?
My biggest inspiration personally is my grandma. She raised 8 kids in the Midwest on a farmer’s salary. Today she is the most honest and yet loving person. She holds everyone close and keeps our large 30+ cousin family together. In my professional life I would say it is everyday people who try to better their lives through entrepreneurship. It is hard each day to show up for yourself personally, but to be able to become an architect of a vision and see it through each day is powerful.
Q3. What is your biggest piece of advice to businesses struggling with diversity and inclusivity in the workplace?
Be honest with yourself and your own biases first. We all have them and you cannot begin to grow and open up in ways to others of different viewpoints until those blinders are off. Be empathetic and don't be afraid to say I don't know or didn't know that. Once in that mindset of growth I think most people will be able to grow their company in a positive way on inclusivity and diversity.
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