Unsung Hero Spotlight: Taj Ahmad Eldridge, L.A., CA

To you, what is an Ecosystem Builder?

Someone who takes action today that will benefit the future.

A person who selflessly gives in order for others to shine.

A champion who uses their voice not to sing their own praises but rather to amplify the voices of others.

What motivates you as an ecosystem builder?

I have a quote that I often say – “aspire to inspire before you expire”. I was recently diagnosed with a stage 5 kidney disease due to a genetic disease called FSGS. That experience made me look inwards toward my purpose. While talent is universal, opportunity is not – my purpose is to change that.

What is the most successful/impactful program/event/thing you do/have done in your ecosystem?

The month I was diagnosed with FSGS, post surgery I helped create on a pitch competition for the entire county of Riverside and that year we were named the 4th place for minority founders from Entrepreneur Magazine

Most recently I developed a theory for a pathway to establish a unique ecosystem in Los Angeles by combining tech + entertainment as an andragogical method for educating founders. Think panels that are now experiences that have been gamified.

What is your biggest challenge as an ecosystem builder?

Getting people to believe in the vision is not a challenge-that is the first step. The real challenge is ensure that those who see the vision are empowered to take up the mantle so that they have the capacity & take ownership in the ecosystem build.

What is your biggest frustration as an ecosystem builder?

The biggest frustration I have is when people place their personal and professional drive before the needs of the ecosystem. An ecosystem is about many, not just one, and a rising tide lifts all boats.

What ecosystem building skill/knowledge do you want to gain?

I’d like to gain high level organizational skills to help create effective processes around ecosystem building. I do believe I’m a vision maker but visions without processes take longer to achieve or meet the shared goals.

What are the most important things that need to happen to advance the field of ecosystem building?

Valid training, communication, and a realization of strengths & uniqueness of one’s ecosystem vs emulating another ecosystem.

What others says about Taj:

Taj is a miracle worker. He has done more to help under-represented founders get funding than anyone I know. Moreover, he has been successful in getting funders locked in 20th century thinking patterns to understand the importance of investing in Cleantech solutions and to the improved financial returns from investing in diverse teams of all sorts.

Taj is a transformational leader. His willingness to share advice, give insights, and make connections has had a major impact on my life as man, dad, and businessman. His commitment to excellence has inspired me to raise the bar in my life and his presence has had a direct impact on my company’s success.

I have never met a more connected, innovative, and integrity-driven individual in business. Taj’s tenacity for using business to re-imagine and create solutions to social challenges is second-to-none.

Taj has helped build an inclusive community of startups and founders focused on sustainability. Taj goes out of his way to make sure everyone’s voice is heard and leads through action.

Learn more about Taj and his work at the L.A. Cleantech Incubator (LACI).

Anika Horn

Anika Horn is an ecosystem builder for social change, social enterprise advisor and storyteller. She is on a mission to equip ecosystem builders with the insights, resources and community to lead fulfilling lives and purpose-driven careers. Learn more about her work at SocialVenturers.com and AnikaHorn.com.

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