Men Empowerment


Today we would like to recognize Detroit entrepreneur Rufus Bartell. It’s because of leaders like you, we find nontraditional ways to create opportunities, achieve success and overcome barriers.

Rufus Bartell is the founder and president of the Independent Business Association (IBA), a group that takes a corridor-wide approach to Livernois and is focused on encouraging revitalization along the three mile stretch from 8 Mile Road to the Lodge. What does IBA do? As a group, Detroit’s INDEPENDENT BUSINESS ASSOCIATION, “IBA,” believes in and fosters collaboration, cooperation and creative expression in business. Rufus Bartell is also the founder & CEO of RBI GROUP INT. LLC, a marketing firm based in Detroit’s University District. RBI Group LLC, which heads up endeavors in retail, real estate, marketing and hospitality. RBI GROUP handles production and planning work for everything from film and video projects to events.

The graduate of Western Michigan University’s school of business lives in the University District neighborhood. He also owns Simply Casual clothing store. Simply Casual Clothing Store has been in business for more than 20 years in Detroit. The apparel retailer at 19400 Livernois Ave. Simply Casual is one of Detroit’s premier specialty boutiques, catering to a cross mix of customers who are travelers, athletes, entertainers, salespersons, city officials and overall taste makers who are fashion forward. Bartell is one of the leading entrepreneurs on the Livernois commercial corridor between 6 and 8 mile roads, commonly known as the Avenue of Fashion.

Bartell believes small business development has the single greatest return on investment than any other city business priority. “You show me any thriving city, and I will show you a city where small business is a top priority.” He has been focusing on nontraditional ways to gain funding to establish and grow Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) in Detroit. This would include funding from real estate, foundations “If you want to change (the city), you have to change the way you look at funding and the purpose of it,” he said. “Get to know the communities, what they want, how to close funding gaps, how to take something on paper that might be a bit riskier and still do the deal, because you have to be able to create opportunities outside of this preconstructed box of funding.”

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