AJANI is a new tailored accelerator serving and educating underinvested communities to build successful and resilient cooperatives and small businesses. We honor our shared legacy by strengthening and empowering BIPOC and disinvested communities. We are a 100% employee-owned worker cooperative and work throughout the country. Our services include co-op and small business development, marketing & branding, urban and community planning, and technology innovation. We are all committed to working collaboratively and value cooperative principles.
Together we bring over two decades of entrepreneurship, business development, and cooperative development to our work. In addition, each of us brings professional specializations and national expertise to tailored engagement. We find it a privilege to work in our communities and assist with economic advancement, development, and community revitalization.
Mavery Davis, CPA
Mavery is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with deep connections to Charleston’s Westside community. He is an independent accountant, runs a FINANCIAL LITERACY BOOTCAMP for kids in the area, and recently joined New Economic Works WV (NEW WV). NEW WV is a lending organization devoted explicitly to financing cooperatives. Additionally, he serves on multiple nonprofit boards with vision, eagerness, and passion!
Mavery obtained his undergraduate degree from West Virginia State University (2007) and a Master’s of Science in Public Accounting from Strayer University (2015). His work experience includes tenure as the former Chief Financial Officer with the WV Department of Veterans Assistance (2016-2018), service on the tax compliance team with the State Auditor’s Office (2012-2016), and work as an auditor with Suttle & Stalnaker, as well as the West Virginia Legislature (2008-2012).
Teia Evans, JD, MBA
Teia Evans has been working with nonprofits for the majority of her career, with a particular passion for youth development. She has been working within the North Carolina cooperative ecosystem since 2015. She currently provides technical assistance and training to help develop cooperative economies across the country. She was selected to be involved in the 2017 Cooperative Leader and Scholar Institute with the National Cooperative Business Association and serves on the boards of various organizations. Ms. Evans is a proud graduate of Morgan State University. She earned her Juris Doctorate and Master of Business Administration degrees at North Carolina Central University.
Gary W. Hampton
Gary W. Hampton is a Business Growth Development Consultant who helps businesses and organizations to reach operational and capacity goals. Hampton previously served as Deputy Director of Small Business Development for West Virginia and worked for 17 years as an Information Technology professional. After a successful career in IT and strategic development across different industry sectors (e.g., technology, finance, government, private, nonprofit, retail, education), Hampton now advises, trains, and coaches businesses on strategic development and growth strategies to reach their capacity goals. He is also active in community-based cooperative economic development. In addition, Hampton is a passionate community supporter who enjoys coaching up the youth in his community through basketball, self-efficacy, and technology activities. Hampton received his BA from Marshall University in Management Information Systems.
Rob McClinton is the Founder of CEO of Designing Nation Holdings, LLC, the parent company of Small World Communications, a managed services provider of digital presence and marketing solutions focused on small businesses and cooperatives. He is a veteran of the Southern California tech scene with roots in several Idealab startups. Rob is committed to empowering small organizations to use cutting-edge tools to grow their businesses. Rob has built several sales and support organizations, led multiple company divisions, trained leaders to develop their management skills, mentored new managers, and taught website workshops for local businesses through the SBA. A Chicago native, Rob embodies the combination of hope and stoicism that one expects from a rabid Chicago Bears fan.
Stephen R. McDow II
Stephen R. McDow II has more than 15 years of experience in business development. Mr. McDow provides marketing, outreach and partnership relations, public relations, program development, and event management services to small businesses, startups, nonprofits, and trade associations. Considered by others as a quintessential US national and international co-operator, Mr. McDow embodies and lives by the 7 Cooperative Principles and looks to promote cooperative enterprises as a way of bringing solidarity amongst rural, urban, and communities in-between to achieve a more inclusive economy. Stephen has collaborated with a group of passionate and committed co-op advocates to move the US cooperative movement forward at NCBA CLUSA, a regional co-op development center, and through his service as a board member at CooperationWorks!. His body of work delivers programs, education, outreach, and advocacy to farmers, workers, and community leaders from diverse backgrounds. Mr. McDow also has extensive experience bringing products to market and is excited about supporting entrepreneurs and innovators to achieve the American Dream. He has spoken and been interviewed nationally and internationally and feels it is his “calling” in life to help advance the one business model working to empower individuals from marginalized communities – The Co-operative Business Model!
Esther West brings a life-long passion for and experience with worker co-ops and community development from urban planning, worker-owner, and academic perspectives. Currently she is a worker-owner of Ajani Cooperative and supports cooperatives and researches with Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard. In her previous position as Cooperative Development Specialist at the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, Esther provided technical assistance to cooperative conversions, home care, and other cooperatives, conducted market analysis, and researched Latinx cooperatives, national cooperative development, and created several databases and analytical cooperative maps.
She additionally brings five years of first-hand worker ownership experience from Equal Exchange and various urban planning and political engagement experiences. Esther holds a Masters in Urban Planning and Environmental Studies from Cleveland State University and Bachelors from Xavier University, and has been published in academic publications. She is currently on the Board of MadWorC and is Vice President of the Board of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives.