Editor’s note: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a financial supporter of Startland News. This story was produced independently by Startland News’s nonprofit newsroom.
From teller to business banker, Shakia Webb worked nearly every bank job, she recalled.
“Each role literally prepared me for the next,” Webb told Startland News, detailing her well-rounded resume and ways it prepared her for a recent transition from the banking world to nonprofit work. She joined the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in the newly created role of small business capital access program officer in June.
“The first few weeks have been great. Everyone at Kaufman has been extremely welcoming. I have definitely enjoyed my time here,” Webb said.
She expects the transition will allow her to flex her financial muscle to the benefit of entrepreneurs who’ve long been challenged when trying to secure funding.
“Oftentimes, the people most affected by these disparities are people of color — and obviously I am a woman of color, so to have this professional experience, expertise and access to resources and connections … My passion lies in being able to give that access to individuals that are from the community that I am from,” she said, noting she’s eager to apply her banking lens as she does her part to further the capital access work the Kauffman Foundation has already started.
“In my previous banking experience, I realized that there was unequal access to resources for some businesses in our underserved and underrepresented communities,” Webb continued, citing access to financial education and literacy programs as examples of such resources and two things she’s highly passionate about enhancing within the Kansas City entrepreneurial community.
“As much as I can provide access, I want to do that. As much as I can lean on any partners I have that maybe have access to resources that I don’t have, I want to be able to lean on them and make those connections so they can bring forward the resources and share as well.”
But such work is for noting if members of the community aren’t aware of it or the resources it’s created, Webb said.
“I’ve been told you have to sometimes repeat yourself a thousand times for people to hear a message and for you to touch as many people as possible,” she added, acknowledging that people can sometimes struggle to take advantage of programs and resources offered through various community organizations and initiatives — a reality she’s ready to help her hometown change.
“You have to meet people where they are. You really can’t just sit and think, ‘Oh, well I’ve posted online [about available entrepreneurship resources]. Someone should see it.’ … When you think about community, community is about relationships and partnerships and that’s who I am. I don’t think there’s any relationship that can be based on a transaction,” she explained.
“[Community is about] everybody bringing their best to the table. And so if what I have to offer is resources and connections, then that’s what I want to be able to do. So I would say the thing that I want the community to know most about me is that I’m a resource and however I can help businesses advance, grow, [and become] sustainable. I want to contribute to that.”
To learn more about Webb and her new role, Startland News hosted a Q&A session with the community builder that revealed everything from what her ideal Kansas City looks like to her need for speed.
Startland News: What is something that people would be surprised to know about you?
Webb: Oh my goodness. I cannot believe I’m about to share this. For those who have not met me or seen me in person, I’m 6-foot tall. So with that said, I cannot swim — do not expect me to know how to swim. Don’t be freaked out if you see me in a pool of maybe 5 feet of water screaming for my life.
I went down a water slide one time and I think it might’ve been 3 feet of water and I literally thought I was drowning. So just imagine I stood up and water was at my knees, but yeah, I can’t.
Startland News: If you’re acting like a tourist in your own hometown, what is one of your favorite things to do around Kansas City?
Webb: The 18th and Vine, [American] Jazz Museum area is nice. You have to frequent that area. It really just depends on when you come into Kansas City, but I’m kind of simple. I’m more of the “let’s go to the movies” [type of person.]
I love to go out to eat, I think I’m kind of a foodie. If I didn’t have to really have a job I might be a food critic. I’m always watching all the different cooking shows and critiquing, wishing I could taste them on the table.
I like to sip and paint, spend time with friends, spend time with my family; my husband and I hang out together a lot. We’ve gone to two Royals games in the past two weeks. Of course, you’ve got to attend a Royals game or a Chiefs game if you’re coming to Kansas City.
Startland News: Where are some of your favorite places to eat?
Webb: I’m probably going to cause a lot of controversy with my response because I’m from Kansas City and I know, depending on who you ask you can get a different answer, but I love Gate’s Bar-B-Q sauce, which means I love Gate’s Bar-B-Q. However, Jack Stack has the best carrot cake. I’m not sure if people know that about Jack Stack, but it’s awesome.
If I really want to put a spotlight on small, local businesses, I would say the KC Daiquiri Shop — the new one on 87th and Metcalf. I’ve been there a couple of times and the food has been great.
Startland News: What is your favorite TV show or movie? Do you have any recommendations?
Webb: I just saw “F9” [in the Fast and the Furious series] maybe a week ago and it was a great movie. If anyone has not seen that, go see it.
Startland News: What is something you’re passionate about or passionate about contributing to?
Webb: A lot of it probably revolves around my daughter. … There’s a dance studio in the city off of 77th and prospect, Ice Studios School of Dance, I’m a great supporter of them. [They] do an awesome job over there as far as providing opportunities and access to different types of dance for children from within the community.
I’ve been a huge supporter of NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) so I try to volunteer whenever I can [with NAMM and organizations such as] Suburban Balance. [I’m] very passionate about anything revolving around access for our youth to education, extracurricular activities. I think you’ve got to keep kids busy.
Startland News: What does your ideal Kansas City look like?
Webb: “My ideal Kansas City is resilient, it’s thriving, it’s growing, it’s sustainable on its own. Access to capital and access to financial education is right at your fingertips. It’s not something that you have to go through so many loops to get access to. I think that’s something that everyone should have equitable access to and it should not be something that is available more for some than others.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation works to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity.