As an ambassador for the Business Circle Agility Challenge, Gardner helped identify nationwide finalists from the small business community who understand and embrace agility in their daily pursuits. Among the top 10 finalists are three black-owned businesses: Co-Sign, GoodBoy Clothing, and Phillip Ashley Chocolates.

A self-taught chocolatier, Phillip Ashley is the founder and CEO of the Memphis-based small business that produces extraordinary designer chocolates. Esosa Ighodaro is the co-founder of the startup CoSign, an app that allows users to “tag” items within content they upload to social networking sites. If their followers purchase the items, users receive a monetary reward. Oaklin Mixon is the founder and CEO of GoodBoy Clothing, a lifestyle streetwear brand that specializes in urban and casual wear.

“We had over 1000 submissions from small business owners and entrepreneurs, across all industries, who were asked to provide their definition of Agility—what does agility mean to you?” notes Gardner. “All of them are doing something that they are truly passionate about. They see a way that they can make a contribution to their community. But this is not a do-good contest; it has to be a real scalable business. All of the finalists are doing some real unique things.”

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