Dr. Mallalieu Woolfolk, Co-Founder
As we celebrate and honor the great achievements of African Americans during this Black History Month, it is fitting to reflect and pay tribute to WIBO’s co-founder, Dr. Mallalieu Woolfolk, Attorney at Law. Dr. Woolfolk was the Executive Director of the Upper Manhattan Small Business Development and Opportunities Corporation, which gave loans to entrepreneurs of ‘color’ when he met our beloved Walter Geier. They co-founded WIBO in 1966 with the objectives to educate, empower and eliminate the challenges that are unique to low-income and minority entrepreneurs.
Dr. Woolfolk, a civil-rights activist played a profound role in shaping the entrepreneurial landscape in Harlem and New York City. He was a giant for justice and sought economic equality by bringing out the best in people regardless of their race, creed, color, or national origin. He understood that the greatest hurdle for entrepreneurs is “access”. Access to capital, access to information, access to the officials who create, and influence policies paramount for the success of any entrepreneur.
Dr. Woolfolk was born and raised in the segregated South. He acquired his undergraduate degree from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., and a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota. He then taught at Alabama State College before joining the Army Air Forces in 1942 as a member of the all-Black corps of pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. He received his doctorate in law from De Paul University in Chicago.
Dr. Woolfolk dedicated much of his life working together with those on the vanguard of the movement to build Black ownership. He served as an Associate Counsel of the Bill of Rights Committee at the New York State Constitutional Convention. Advised and Counseled prominent Black elected officials, including the former Mayor David N. Dinkins; Percy E. Sutton, former Manhattan Borough President and founder of Inner City Broadcasting, home to WBLS/WLIB & owner of the Apollo Theater; and, Charles B. Rangel, former U.S. Representative for districts in New York. He also served as a legal secretary to Oliver C. Sutton, a New York State Supreme Court Judge.
Dr. Woolfolk’s son carries on his father’s legacy, inspiring new generations of entrepreneurs. Charles Mal Petioni Woolfolk, Independent International Trade and Development Professional, helps businesses to compete and grow. His support to WIBO has been ongoing for decades.
On March 1st, WIBO will celebrate 55 years of conducting the first comprehensive entrepreneurial course to ever run the USA. “How to Build a Growing Profitable Business” started with 15 students in Harlem.