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Strength of a Black Woman: Divorce left her Heartbroken, but she ‘Kept it Moving’ and built her own Empire

Who would you be without struggle? We have all been shaped in some way by our experiences. At some point in our lives we can all remember at least one event that caused a shift in our paradigm; something that caused us to change the way we saw ourselves and the people around us. For Lia Abney, 54 of Hephzibah Georgia, that event was when her then husband after 15 years of marriage told her that he no longer wanted to be married. There is no quick fix to healing after a divorce, and Lia knows this all too well. However, she found the strength within herself to #keepitmoving.

After her divorce Lia moved from Korea to Georgia and started picking up the broken pieces of her life. She founded Victory Leadership Group Inc. a nonprofit organization preparing teens for success as they transition from high school into the workforce. She became motivated to do even more, and founded her very own consulting service, Lia Abney LLC aimed at empowering women (mind, body, and soul) to pursue their God-given talents. BWM visited her website and we were immediately captivated by her charisma. The passion Lia has for what she does is undeniable. During her career, she’s had the pleasure of sharing her knowledge and passion with nonprofit organizations (education, homelessness, and mental health), entrepreneurs, schools, juvenile court systems, authors/speakers and churches.

“When I moved to Georgia I did not have any family here to lean on. I had to open myself up to those whom God brought into my inner circle to create a tribe whom we all can lean on. I am thankful for families in Georgia who have adopted me as a daughter, sister, and confidant.”

When Lia isn’t out inspiring the world, you can find her reading scripture or taking in the soothing sounds of soulful Gospel or Jazz. Her studies at Capella University, where she is pursuing a Doctorate Degree in Public Administration also keep her busy. Busy is an understatement for this veteran as she is also a Management Analyst, Motivational Speaker and Published Author. She’s contributed to skillfully penned masterpieces including – Women in Public Administration: Theory and Practice – which is being used in colleges around the world, and – Perfectly Imperfect, Seeing Yourself Through the Eyes of God – which allowed her to share her story of God’s love for her after divorce. Both publications were realized during a time for Lia that was most challenging and affected her self esteem. However, she was able to persevere beyond the hurt knowing that God had a plan for her to prosper and not cause her harm…(Jeremiah 29:11).

This Black Queen wears multiple ‘hats‘, but they are all set in perfect alignment with who she is. She has fully embraced her anointing… an anointing to inspire and motivate others to achieve their highest.

In 2019, Lia was awarded the Shero Arts Award in support of local arts as an author and a finalist for the 2019 Indie Award. She is actively involved in various community initiatives as well as an active board member with the Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce as the VP of Business and Financial Affairs. 

What motivates this visionary? She credits much of her inspiration to some strong female leaders whom she has admired for years – Ronic West, a prime example of an industry leader (a mover and shaker as Lia describes her), and Sojourner Truth who was a constant reminder to fight for those who are unable to make their voice be heard. Lia also credits much of her resolve to #keepitmoving to her daughter Chontele, aka Yum Yum, who is a perfect example of focus and determination.

Like many entrepreneurs and black women in general who are working toward creating their own path, Lia has experienced her fair share of defeating thoughts. For this phenomenal black queen however, giving up has never been an option.

“One time, I took a leap of faith and submitted a proposal to speak at a conference. Of course, I had people ask to come along and thinking of course why not. Well, lets just say it was the worse speaking engagement. Not so much because I had someone come with me but I was actually treated horribly by another speaker not to mention other things that did not line up. I left there feeling like man…your own kind treats you like this. It really left a bad taste in my mouth. But then as clear as day…God said I never told you to take anyone with you. So the next couple of speaking engagements I journeyed alone. And nothing but blessings…I share this not to shame or bash others but to say that in your journey there is a season where you may be required to do it alone. It won’t be for ever but it is a season that I believe God is grooming us for something beyond what others can understand. Going at it alone during that season is an opportunity for you to grow without distractions. So where ever you are in your journey KEEP IT MOVING.

— Lia Abney

One of Lia’s future goals for Lia Abney, LLC  is to outreach the business internationally and continuously build strong foundations for accomplishing strategic goals. “So many businesses get stuck in the process of building because they do not clearly have a plan that will allow them to expand and grow to the next level. I want to help businesses that have found themselves stuck by establishing the right connection, communicate the right message, and commit to the process as a business owner to #KeepItMoving.”

“Discover your purpose, lock into it and don’t abandon the process to success. Use wisdom with whom you connect with and know when the season is over to just LET THEM GO. Your journey is dependent on someone benefiting from what you pour out into the earth. It’s never too late to get started. Straighten your crown “King”…”Queen” and KEEP IT MOVING!”

LIA ABNEY

Like most with such an important calling as hers, Lia’s story reminds us all to stay focused. There is no quick path to success, but through perseverance and constant self- evaluation anything is possible!

Continue to Follow Lia’s journey via Lia Abney LLC on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and LinkedIn and Victory Leadership Group on Instagram

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Cindy Grigg: Ignoring Negativity, Building a Future.

Taryn C. St. Louis, November 2nd 2020

It has always been said that fortune favors the brave. This may be true, but history suggests that it also favors those who refuse to allow negative thoughts and emotions to linger. If we examine some of the most successful black celebrities today, we will find the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry who are perfect examples of modern icons whose childhoods were riddled with both poverty and abuse. It is therefore no wonder that our featured entrepreneur has identified them both as public figures who inspire her on her journey. Cindy Grigg didn’t come from a glamourous past but her resolve to remain in a positive mindset and achieve every goal she’s set for herself is nothing short of admirable.

She grew up in Glanvilles Antigua, the second child among 4 siblings. Her life was seemingly uneventful until her early teen years when divorce separated her family and life took an immediate turn for the worst. Cindy recalls sleeping on floors as her mother, who was forced to become the text book definition of a single parent, struggled to provide for and sustain her children on her own. Cindy describes those years as being the hardest of her life.

“Honestly, I grew up hard. We had to sleep on floors.”

Now a parent herself, she has vowed that her three year old boy, Elisha, will have all his needs met. That’s why the hustle never stops for this mother of one. Her first talk show, “The Cindy Show”, was a dream realized after years of procrastination. She recounts visualizing this goal since she was 13 years old. Why a talk show? One may ask. But, why not? She has the experience and fearlessness required to speak on various topics that would otherwise be considered taboo, and offer candid advice without the filters that most would employ to hide parts of themselves that they are afraid would be subject to judgment… judgment from those who simply stand on the outside of life’s big wheel of movers and shakers… judgment from those who are afraid to expose the truth of who they really are.

Since its inception 6 months ago, The Cindy Show has received support from hundreds of viewers on its social media platform, Facebook. This encouraged our charismatic entrepreneur to venture into new but familiar territory. Her second Talk Show, The Sisterhood Show, was visualized and executed with as much vigor as her first.

“The Sisterhood Show is all about about uplifting and empowering women”.

Constantly being in the public eye can expose anyone to serious criticism and in some cases, bullying both in cyber space and real life. Cindy has had her fair share of criticism. Her most recent stemming from a live video she posted on social media recounting her experience of feeling ill and subsequently passing out after being on the set of The Sisterhood Show the night before. In the live video, she made a few grammatical errors which were instantly added to the social media ‘funnies’ by those with an adverse sense of humor. The negatives of the video were highlighted and the positives were basically kept in the shadows. These events threatened to break her spirit, but she refused to fold. Cindy relied on prayer and positivity to overcome the constant attacks, and that she did!

She almost immediately conceptualized then launched a fun T-Shirt line captioning two of the most popular grammatical errors she made. The phrases were already being shared and re-shared on social media, so why not print them on a shirt? “I tooked in” and “I woke up unconscious” shirts were advertised for sale. Professionally designed by Sistah Souljah’s Hub and printed by Kay Inks printing services in Antigua, the t-shirts were made available in various colors and sizes. Cindy reports that close to 100 shirts have already been sold, with supporters posting themselves donning the shirts and tagging her on her Facebook page. This is how we turn a negative into a positive! Because the support was so promising, hats and masks with the same designs were soon made available. Although this was quite an enterprising move, she is fully aware of her errors and is now taking personal steps to continuously educate herself on various topics that can only enrich her in her capacity as a talk show host and entrepreneur.

Cindy has experienced her fair share of untrustworthy friends so she speaks from experience when she advises her fellow entrepreneurs to “know who your friends are and be mindful of those in your circle”. She further advises that we should only keep persons with a positive and progressive mindset around us and surround ourselves with those who want to see us win. She explained that negativity will always rear its ugly head when one is trying to push past the status quo, and there isn’t much that can be done about it, but it’s important that you don’t quit. “Keep pushing, pray and have faith because every day won’t be great but you can only succeed if you don’t give up!”

One of her greatest aspirations is to be able to give back to the underprivileged in her community. While this is both thoughtful and a wise career move, we believe she has already begun the process of giving back by being an example of how we should all work toward our goals; with optimism and without fear or surrender.

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe.” It isn’t egotistical to believe you can succeed in life. By holding onto the belief that you will reach your goals and fulfill your dreams, you are keeping your mind positive.”

Oprah Winfrey

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SCAMMED by the Blessing Loom

With the world plunging into economic crises due to Covid-19 and mandatory lock-downs, it isn’t a surprise that fraudulent economics is rearing its ugly head everywhere. The most common being “the blessing loom”. It goes by other names such as:

  • Blessing Bank
  • Infinity Loom
  • Snowflake Blessing
  • Giving Circle

How it started

This pyramid scheme first surfaced in 2016 when Derek Loom, an American citizen roped in ‘blessed investors’ via social media. He was arrested in 2019, but by that time, he had already made at least 10 Million USD and authorities couldn’t press any real charges against him, as per various media reports. The scam easily and quickly reverberated through the four corners of the earth, via the worldwide platform, Facebook.

How it works

Persons are usually recruited by invitation only. With a small investment of let’s say $100, through some digital payment service like Paypal or Venmo, you can spread the wealth, and see a huge return on the money (your ‘entry fee’). The only catch is that you have to recruit other ‘investors.’ They, in turn will invite others and the goal is for everyone to end up making loads of cash. It’s evident on social media right now, that persons are posting their invites directly in groups and on their facebook walls with captions such as “inbox me” or “find out how!”

How you lose

This sounds like heaven! Right? Unfortunately, in most cases, it ends up being hell for most unsuspecting hopefuls. The trouble with the scheme is its reliance on recruiting others in order to keep the ship afloat. Once people stop participating, the money ship sinks. This will leave lots of disappointed people to lose the cash they initially invested.

The idea of the blessing loom is similar to that of a ponzi scheme. According to invesopedia, A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investing scam promising high rates of return with little risk to investors. The Ponzi scheme generates returns for early investors by acquiring new investors. This is similar to a pyramid scheme in that both are based on using new investors’ funds to pay the earlier backers. They sound pretty much identical!

Derek Loom, who started the blessing loom in 2016

Tenesha’s Story

Tenesha W. 27, from Brooklyn NY was employed as a pre-school teacher before covid-19 struck the USA in January 2020. The pre-school soon closed its doors indefinitely and she was forced to apply for unemployment benefits. Being a single mother, having 3 children aged 5 -13, with no income and no assistance caused Tenesha to go into depression. Soon, she was offered a rope in the dark. A friend of hers contacted her and asked her to invest $100 to join the loom. Her friend explained how it worked and she was on board. I mean, how hard could it be to find two people, right? That she did. Once Tenesha received her $800 ‘hand’, things started looking up for her. She decided to try another group. She made another $800 and then another. This was way more than she had bargained for! Things were definitely turning around for her.

One day, she saw a post on social media that offered way more than just $800. This time, you could invest $625 and gain $5000. This seemed like some kind of miracle. Tenesha was quick to message the poster and join his group. Her early gains were being depleted and she needed a quick fix so that she could at least pay something on her rent and stock up on some much needed groceries. She could only dream about getting her hair and nails done again. Once she joined, she embarked on her mission of recruiting the required investors. She invited the friend that recruited her in the first place, but she wasn’t interested as the stakes were a bit high for her. Instead, she was met with- “Girl, why didn’t you stick with the $100 groups!?” Tenesha was puzzled since her friend was so confident when recruiting her. This seemed like a sure thing, so why not up the stakes a bit? She continued her recruiting mission and finally secured her people.

Everyone was finally in! Her recruits also had the job of recruiting their own people so she just sat tight for a bit until it was her turn to receive her blessings. Days passed, weeks passed, and she sent countless messages to her group chat asking why it was taking so long for her payout? Was anyone else getting paid? She was always met with the same response. ” The money is coming, everyone has to wait their turn.” By this time, two months had passed, and her ‘winnings’ from previous ‘blessings’ were already gone. “Count this one as a loss, sis” her friend advised. This statement came much to Tenesha’s surprise because she had been so sure the plan was all fail-safe. “Why didn’t you tell me this sh#t wasn’t sucker proof? I need my $500 back!” By this time, the group had grown stagnant, and most members were either leaving the whatsapp group or had stopped responding altogether.

Tenesha made a formal complaint to the NYC police department in the hopes of getting back the $625 she had invested. However, her case was difficult to bring to a close and she basically got no where. Although these schemes are illegal in NYC, it is difficult to prove that the funds are taken/stolen rather than ‘gifted.’

More on how the loom works

CBS 19 provided these tips on how to avoid social media scams:

  • Stay alert to pyramid schemes. Pyramid schemes promise quick profits for recruiting others. Scammers prey on the desire to make a lot of money with very little effort. But remember, pyramid schemes are illegal in the United States and Canada.
  • Be skeptical: Before you accept any offer on social media, do your research. Just because something appears to be fun and was shared by a friend, doesn’t mean there isn’t an inherent risk. Many of these offers include extravagent promises that aren’t kept.
  • Monitor Friend Requests. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Also be wary of a second friend request from someone you are already connected with; the second profile may be an imposter trying to access your data and your friends list.
  • Ask questions and research the offer before joining any business venture. What appears to be a legitimate investment could still be a pyramid scheme. Check business ratings and reviews on BBB.org and other search engines before agreeing to work with or invest in any company or individual.

According to the office of the NY Attorney General, people invest in pyramid schemes for various reasons. These include:

Those who participate out of greed;

Those who are misled into thinking that they are joining an “investment club” or a “gift program”;

And those who believe that the products or services are legitimate.

One Way to actually Build Wealth

The major problem with these schemes is that you’re basically promising something you can’t guarantee. BWM recommends doing your research and joining a proper ‘box hand’ or ‘sou sou’ instead. According to Essence Magazine, A sou-sou (also spelled sou sou, su-su or susu) is an informal rotating savings club, where a group of people get together and contribute an equal amount of money into a fund weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. The total pool, also known as a hand, is then paid to one member of the club on a previously agreed-on schedule. The pool rotates until all members have received their share.- Sounds Legit.

Related: More on sou-sous

There are actually sou-sou apps. See more here or explore them on Google Play.