A group of young entrepreneurs in north-end Halifax have kick-started a business that helped bring a new basketball court to their community.
Ezekiel, Maziah, Tayemar and Kristopher have been dubbed the “Hot Cocoa Boys” at Hope Blooms, for their tireless efforts selling hot cocoa and lemonade in the community.
All of the money raised by the social enterprise goes directly to the new basketball court off Gottingen Street, a stone’s throw from the Hope Blooms building.
“When I first came into it I thought it was just going to be a little fun thing, maybe hang out with my friends a bit more, but it actually developed into something a lot cooler,” said Ezekiel Keller, one of the Hot Cocoa Boys.
“We come down, we make our product, we box it, package it up, we take it with us and we’ll go sell it in front of the library,” said Tayemar Mintis, another one of the Hot Cocoa Boys.
Kolade Kolawole-Boboye, who grew up as a member of the Hope Blooms community, says the entire initiative was self-started by the young teenagers.
“It started very small. They used to come here after school just doing regular hot cocoa stuff, and they took it to the next level, and I was like, ‘damn, these guys are very entrepreneur,’” said Kolawole-Boboye.
“Those guys are little geniuses man; they came up with the idea. They had a vision and they’ve executed it.”
The teens came up with the idea a couple of years ago. Even the pandemic didn’t slow them down, as they’ve now taken their sales online where they’ve seen a whole new demand.
“I told them, ‘you guys are role models. You guys don’t know it yet, but you’re the role models. Like, I’m looking up to you guys,'” Kolawole-Boboye said.
The new basketball court was recently installed, but that doesn’t mean the young entrepreneurs’ initiative is done.
They still plan to sell hot cocoa over the winter to raise even more money for a seating area, and for the nearby flower gardens.
“It makes me feel great because we’re helping out the community that I grew up in, the community that family grew up in for generations,” said Maziah Clayton-Hart, a third member of the group.