Chimene Okere has had an interesting journey. Upon his graduation from Lane Tech College Preparatory in Chicago (2010), he went on to attend Depaul University, completing his freshman year before transferring to the University of Memphis. He never envisioned all of the transfers leading to a position in the Obama Administration.
Customarily, each U.S. President appoints students to non-career positions within their administration. The full-time positions are entry level and within the executive branch. As a result of President Obama’s desire to diversify the pool of students selected to the program, The University of Memphis was selected to send students of color for interviews.
As a result of Okere’s participation in an internship program during the summer of 2013, he was deemed a good candidate for an interview by the student affairs office and his resume was forwarded to the Presidential Personnel Office. Okere got the interview and was chosen from hundreds of applicants from mostly Ivy League Universities to fill one of the 50 to 70 full-time positions. He will work in the Office of Capital Access for the Small Business Administration (SBA).
“Our goal is to increase opportunities for financial resources to small business owners. Specifically, we are targeting individuals in under-served communities, such as women, African Americans, Hispanic and Latinos, veterans, the elderly, and other people of color,” Okere said. “Within the next few months I hope to be responsible for the expansion of economic opportunities towards individuals that are typically discriminated against in financial markets.”
Okere offered his thoughts on how his appointment could benefit Memphis.
“In the past, the SBA provided large loans in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to business owners despite the demand for smaller loans in the tens of thousands. Recently, the SBA has increased the volume of loans in more concise packages. This has led to more jobs in the small business sector of the economy,” he said.
The Memphis SBA has been noted for its work with Taylor Brown Apothecary, reflecting a small-business emphasis that Okere believes could lead to more jobs in the small business sector and a boost of the area’s overall economy.
Okere’s position will last at least until the end of the Obama Administration, but the way he rolls, you just never know where he may land.