In 2012, CEEM founder and CEO Reggie Webb nearly died. He was rushed to the hospital just in time to receive life-saving interventions to stabilize his condition. As he spent weeks in recovery, one word kept echoing in his mind: legacy.
As a former executive with the McDonald’s Corporation, Webb helped people from underrepresented communities become franchisees with one of the world’s most iconic brands. However, he wanted to do more to help African Americans achieve financial independence. Through his research, Webb learned about the Mondragon Cooperative, a worker-owner co-op in the Basque region of Spain that grew from a handful of initial participants into a massive federation of more than 260 businesses and cooperatives, 80,000 workers, and more than €12 billion in revenue. After learning how the Mondragon Cooperative helped transform its town, Webb wanted to replicate a similar model in Black communities in America.
A chance meeting with Ratibu Jacocks, a community organizer in Rialto, Calif., helped Webb formalize his idea for an economic cooperative. After visiting a Westside Action Group meeting to discuss entrepreneurship in the Black community, Webb attended a retreat where he outlined the vision for CEEM.
In 2016, CEEM was officially born. At first, Webb brought in his children — who help run Webb Family Enterprises — then he extended the offer to business and community leaders in his local area. Today, CEEM is a legally formed cooperative in the state of California and brings community members together to keep more of the business revenue generated by African Americans consumers in the Inland Empire in the hands of the Black community.