Business

Maurice Davis couldn't find a book with Black entrepreneurs. So he wrote one

Cedar Rapids business coach helps his young sisters see what's possible

Maurice Davis holds a copy of his book, #x201c;Jayden's Big Day.#x201d; (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Maurice Davis holds a copy of his book, “Jayden’s Big Day.” (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
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Maurice Davis wanted a book about entrepreneurship with characters looking like his 3- and 4-year-old sisters.

“I wanted to start reading to them and teaching them entrepreneurial concepts now in a way that made sense,” said Davis, who coaches Black entrepreneurs through his consulting company and Jane Boyd Community House’s Empower by GoDaddy program.

But out of the few books Davis, 29, found teaching entrepreneurial concepts at a level appropriate for his young sisters — “it’s hard to find an entrepreneurship book for kids 3-7, period” — none of them had Black characters.

So he wrote one.

His book — “Jayden’s Big Day” — has sold about 100 copies since being released Nov. 7.

The book starts with a boy named Jayden wanting to buy a toy.

“Unfortunately his dad basically tells him, ‘We can’t afford it right now,’” Davis said. “I promise you, as soon as we have the money, we’ll get it.”

Jayden then discovers various entrepreneurial concepts as he raises money for the toy.

Within about a month of making the decision to write a children’s book, Davis had a draft ready. The writing part “actually didn’t take very long,” he said. With editing and illustrating added, the process took seven or eight months.

Davis said improving representation of Black entrepreneurs in children’s material is “critical” in helping kids discover what they can do.

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“As entrepreneurs in an underrepresented population, the greatest asset you could have — if they’re available — is the generational knowledge and the upbringing of an entrepreneur,” Davis said.

For example, entrepreneurship might look like owning a barbershop for someone with an older relative who is a barber.

“When I see myself as an entrepreneur, I can only see myself as what I’ve seen,” Davis said. “If you want to be a barber, I think that’s great. Do that. But if you have an entrepreneurial (aspiration), let’s not become a barber because that’s all you know.”

Davis said he’s heard from parents whose kids said they can sell stuff, too, after reading the book.

“It’s that conversation that I want these books to generate,” Davis said.

The book is for sale at the African-American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids or online on Amazon for $9.99. He also plans to do a book signing as well. Davis said profits will go toward programming for kids in entrepreneurship.

“Jayden’s Big Day” could be one of many books he writes where you “can see Jayden’s entrepreneurial growth.”

Long-term, he also wants to have a YouTube channel to reinforce these concepts, although animation costs are a major obstacle.

“More kids are watching and consuming content on YouTube now,” Davis said. “And so if I really want these lessons to be cemented, I have to go where they are.”

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In the meantime, his sisters approve of the book. Convincing them he actually wrote it himself is a work in progress, though.

“They have a hard time wrapping their brains around the fact that their brother wrote it,” Davis said. “I should’ve put my picture in it.”

Comments: (319) 398-8394; john.steppe@thegazette.com

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