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Providing the Helping Hand

Kyle Webb MBA 16 and his family-owned business take helping their communities seriously

July 28, 2020
Marshall MBA alumnus Kyle Webb

Kyle Webb MBA ’16 is the chief financial officer of his family business—Webb Family Enterprises, which owns and operates some 16 McDonald’s franchises in the greater Los Angeles area. He’s also the CEO of Webb Investments, the investment arm of the family business.

He is busy, and successful. But Webb has made it his personal business to give back to the community, either through job opportunities at their franchises or via educational and economic initiatives through his family-run Cooperative Economic Empowerment Movement (CEEM), along with investments in entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities.

CEEM is Webb’s passion project. CEEM exists to provide access and opportunities to African Americans via entrepreneurship starting in the Inland Empire. “It’s exciting to build out this innately entrepreneurial model for community development,” he said. “We don’t know of a membership cooperative model leveraged to create distributed ownership across a community.

“It’s my true life’s work,” Webb said.

He is quick to cite the inspiration of his father and mother.

His father, Reginald Webb, was an executive with McDonald’s Corp. in the 1970s and ’80s. He was committed to introduce franchises into Black, Asian and Latinx communities. “He felt strongly that the franchise community should reflect the community surrounding it,” he said. “My Dad and Mom are activists at heart.” The elder Webb bought his first two franchises in 1985. As his parents built the family business, his father was the operations guy while his mother ran the back office.

“I tell every young person I meet, if you’re Black, study abroad twice. Take your history courses at a historically Black college. You’ll learn history from the perspective of your people, with your people. Then study abroad somewhere else around the world, and get that worldly experience.”—Kyle Webb MBA '16, CFO of Webb Family Enterprises, CEO of Webb Family Investments

Webb grew up in Claremont and Rowland Heights. He attended Bishop Amat High School, where he was the first Black student body president. For college, he was accepted to Morehouse College, a historically Black college for men, and moved to Atlanta.

It was a life-changing experience, he said.

“I went from a Southern California high school that was mostly Latinx and Asian to a school that was 95 percent Black,” he said. “It was the first time I was ever in a majority Black environment, where our people were teaching the classes and running the college and making the decisions. It was profoundly impactful.

“I tell every young person I meet, if you’re Black, study abroad twice. Take your history courses at a historically Black college. You’ll learn history from the perspective of your people, with your people. Then study abroad somewhere else around the world, and get that worldly experience.”

Morehouse College changed him in other ways, too. “The expectation was for excellence,” he said. “They expect you to go on to be leaders in your field.” He studied business administration and finance, and had no trouble finding a good job, at the Disney-ABC TV Group. It didn’t satisfy him, however, and he officially rejoined his family business in 2010.

In 2012, he took over the financial operation of the business and decided he needed an MBA to help him see the larger picture. He added, ”I’ve always wanted to be a Trojan. I only applied to one program. My community of Trojans has been great to me.”

“I understood finance to a point,” he admitted. “There were a lot of topics in business school I was familiar with because I’d grown up around them and studied finance as an undergraduate.” Frustratingly, however, he didn’t have the experience he’d had at Morehouse. As a Black man in business school, he remembers some professors not giving him the benefit of the doubt for his already-significant business experience, while there were others who leveraged his experience and ability to contribute to the discourse.

Webb came away with valuable insights into business procedures, and more importantly, with a strong connection to his cohort. “The Trojan Family network is definitely a thing.”

Giving Back as Business

As the chief financial officer of his family business, Webb continues to be a community leader. He serves as the board treasurer of the Southern California Black McDonald’s Owners’ Association, the same position at Bright Prospect (a Pomona, Calif.-based college access organization). As a Trojan, he sits on the advisory board of the USC Black Alumni Association.

As an owner of McDonald’s franchises, he understands that he plays a role in helping young people get into employment, and move up. “We love being the first job provider in the communities we serve,” he said, citing that two-thirds of the employees in their stores are young people.

Even now during the pandemic, business isn’t suffering as much as it could be. Drive-thru-only ordering is efficient on labor costs. And people definitely want comfort food on lockdown.

“We are blessed,” he said.

Find more information about CEEM at CEEM.coop or on @ceemcoop on social media, or follow Kyle @KWe2b.