The Chicago Journal

Your Gateway to the Heartbeat of Chicago

Masala Pizza Gives Day-to-Day Pizza a Different Twist with Its Indian Flavors

Wherever part of the world a foodie goes, pizza is always a welcome food choice that can bring life to any gathering, from a simple family get together to unplanned night outs with friends, birthdays, or even family dinners when moms would rather not cook after a long day at work. Seeing that pizza is a part of countless lives and homes across the country, Masala Pizza is elevating the experience of pizza lovers by giving it a special Indian twist. Known for its mouthwatering spices and delicacies, Indian food transformed into a delicious pizza menu is the closest foodies will get to heaven on Earth. 

Owned and managed by entrepreneur Jay Patel, Masala Pizza has been capturing the hearts of Chicago residents with its sumptuous selection of flavors. Patel thought of a business model that would empower him to expand his business fast and enable various pizza businesses to offer exciting Indian flavors to a wide array of clients. Masala Pizza was created during the pandemic; in the midst of all businesses closing down, Patel found a way to save local businesses from closing and by partnering together. Thus, Masala Pizza grew. Now there is a Masala Pizza in almost every corner of Illinois, from Naperville to Addison, Chicago, Lincoln Park, Downers Grove, and Schaumburg. Very soon, it will also be available in Glenview and Orland Park. 

“I want to help as many mom and pop places as I can. Having local restaurants is amazing. Knowing that each contains their own story, we want to help save that and be a growing part in their story,” Patel explained. 

The Masala Pizza is also best known for its thin-crust 17, double dough 19, and deep-dish 23, varieties that pizza lovers are enjoying like anything. When it comes to well-known Indian spices, the company does not hold back anything. The Jalapeño Balepeno has the Tikka Masala base, Moti sauce, and toppings made up of mozzarella, giardiniera, and of course, loads of jalapeños. The Paneer Tikka Pizza, on the other hand, mixes the Moti and Cilantro Lime Sauces with the Tikka Masala base. Its toppings include mozzarella, paneer, onions, green peppers, and garlic red seasoning. 

Thanks to Jay Patel, these exhilarating and delicious combinations are spreading like wildfire in the Chicago area and beyond. His current success in Chicago is something that he aspires to duplicate around the country by partnering with local restaurants. In fact, Jay is set to open in the New Jersey / New York market in the next few months with stores opening in Parsippany, Edison, and Jersey City. 

Aspiring entrepreneurs, chefs, and restaurants can learn a lot from Patel’s unique approach to growing his businesses. He is not only establishing himself as a promising businessman, but he is also effectively promoting Indian food culture at the same time.

UPTON BASS – A STREAMLINED JOURNEY TO SUCCESS

Success is something achieved after countless hours of hard work and dedication towards one’s goal. Those who think of it as something that can be gained after a one-nighter are always left disappointed. Whether it be a success in one’s career or the success of a business, it needs to be built gradually to assure stability. Whether a business starts as a small mom-and-pop store or as a giant corporation, an increase in business only comes after the business or the executives have spent ample time in their field and have an in-depth understanding of it. Many people think that with enough preparations made, a business can succeed without having made its place in the industry. Only a company with management that is well informed of their field’s inner workings can hope to make their climb to success a streamlined journey. A Real-world example of such a company can be seen when observing the success story of Gary Upton’s bass string instrument company “Upton Bass.”

Although true success is impossible overnight, there are still many ways one can expedite the process of achieving it. There are many marketing and advertisement techniques that help promote the brand name and bring it to the attention of the masses. However, only focusing on marketing and ignoring all other basic elements can also become the downfall of one’s business. When a client chooses a business, it is not the marketing magic that helps retain them. The only way a company can survive and flourish in today’s economy is by ensuring the quality of service received by the customers. It is imperative that the business devise a business plan that addresses a crucial problem of their targeted audience and the best quality of service while solving them. Upton Bass is a company that was built to address the commonly faced problem of stringed instruments artists with a high level of quality and attention to detail.

Gary Upton founded Upton Bass in 1999 in Jewett City, CT. The foundation of his business was set by Gary’s realization of an instrumentalist’s daily worries. For any musical artist that used a stringed instrument, their instruments were their greatest assets. Performers considered them a partner, and most usually preferred to use one specific stringed instrument for an extended time until there was no other choice but to replace them. A stringed instrument is probably the most delicate out of all other instruments in regards to the delicacy involved in tuning the string and retaining its tone. A musician’s life is a hectic one, to say the least, with their professional calendar usually pre-scheduled for months at a time. With shows scheduled back-to-back at a great distance, locations left little room for any unforeseen problems. But problems are unfortunately known to happen at the most inconvenient times. The biggest issue a stringed instrument artist could encounter is being on the road and needing their guitars tuned or repaired. Gary being a widely known bass guitarist, had experienced these issues all the time in his career and agreed to them being one of the most stressful times of his career. With their preferred instruments out of order, artists need to fall back on other replacements that have been observed to impact their performance negatively. A repair company that could provide superior quality of maintenance and repair was hard to find, and artists had to spend many days with their guitars out of commission.

Gary decided to end the suffering of his fellow artists and found Upton Bass that could be the answer they needed. Upton Bass opened for business in a shop in Jewett City. After the initiation of the business, there was a tide of clients wanting to get their guitars maintained by Gary and his team. The reason for this sudden surge in business immediately after starting was the name Gary had earned in the musical industry. His reputation exceeded him, and his audience and fellow musicians recognized him. Every artist knew that if there were anyone that could provide the quality of service they desired, that would be Gary’s, Upton Bass. Everyone that came to Upton Bass left content, and the company’s popularity grew to a level where they soon needed to shift to a bigger location in Downtown Mystic, CT, in 2004. Upton Bass started selling equipment as well and became known to sell only the highest quality guitars. Soon, they experienced a shortage of space and skills and needed to move again. However, this time their new location did not sit well with the founders, and the search for a new home for Upton Bass started immediately.

Upton Bass found its new home in a barn that existed unnoticed on Gary’s property. This barn had the charm that the founders desired, and everyone agreed to make this their new base of operations. Upton Bass has gained phenomenal success from the initial days and has grown significantly. They received awards such as the 2009 Silver Medal for overall tone by the International Society of Bassists and the 2013 Certificate of workmanship by the International Society of Bassists. The reason for this success was behind the years of hard work done by Gary as a bassist and the fame he earned. His previous fame became the selling point of his business, and he was awarded it with immediate recognition.

From Troubled Teen to Successful CEO, Mark Minard Details How He Got So Far

When people find out that Mark Minard, the successful CEO of Dreamshine, has been to jail, it naturally comes as a surprise. Most would never think that the driven, self-motivated entrepreneur and author of a best-selling book, 16 Reasons Why Your Business Sucks, would have ever been in such a position. Unfortunately, Mark experienced multiple challenges throughout his life but refused to be held back by his past experiences. Instead, he persevered, making the best out of each situation while starting a business that would eventually become a massive success.

At the early age of 26, Mark came up with the idea to start Dreamshine with his sister, Amy. The duo has always been passionate about helping others and wanted to do something positive for developmentally disabled adults. Despite the ongoing recession happening behind the scenes, Mark and his sister decided to open the doors of their organization, and it has been onward and upward ever since.

“Amy and I knew that it was risky to start a business during a recession, but we didn’t let the doubters get to us. Instead, we focused on building a business centered around our clients. We wanted to provide them with new opportunities to learn different things, including life skills and social skills, which would help improve their quality of life,” says Minard. “When people found out about the business, they naturally took a liking to it and the many programs we offer. We provided something different from other businesses that existed, which helped us stand out and gain that edge. In addition, while most organizations focus on children with developmental delays, we wanted to focus more on the adults who could still use extra support and guidance through various programs.”

While the business has flourished over the past 15 years, Mark credits most of the success to the incredible team members who remain motivated and ready to help clients, along with his leadership skills. Knowing the importance of being a good leader, he’s made it a priority to be there when his team needs him while going above and beyond to provide the best experience possible for clients and their families.

“For people who’d like to run a successful business that grows over the years, I’d say it’s important to be a good leader. Many businesses suck because of the serious lack of leadership that leads to massive dysfunction and problems with retaining employees. Not everyone knows what they’re doing wrong, which is the reason I decided to write a book about the mistakes that people are making in business,” shares Minard. “The book touches on a lot of important topics to help entrepreneurs recognize their errors and bounce back from them. We all make mistakes, but if you want to make it far, you need to get yourself back up and focus on making improvements to elevate your situation.”

Because of his incredible journey, Mark Minard has also started hosting the Elevating Beyond podcast, where he offers helpful suggestions and advice on overcoming adversity to achieve goals in life.

Investing in Detroit: How Justin Fontenelle Helps Others See the Potential of this Metro Area

Location is everything when choosing a property to invest in. You want to make sure you’re getting the most you can out of the money you put in, and a key factor is where you decide to buy. Detroit, Michigan is one of the top metro areas for flipping houses, meaning investors see a higher return on their investment here than in any other city. For this reason, a team of real estate experts is guiding investors on taking opportunities and making the most out of this gold mine of a city.

Guiding global investors to the streets of Detroit

The potential for returns is higher in Detroit than any other city in the United States. It tops Marcus & Millichap’s exclusive Yield Index of 10 markets, with Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati coming in next. CEO of JustInvestNow Justin Fontenelle has focused his investment and property management business in Detroit because he wants to help others get a piece of the profit this city has to offer.

City officials are welcoming investors here, in an effort to revive the community to what it once was. The housing market has seen a slump within the past few years, but is on the rise. City development is making homes more in demand right now. These factors, combined with low prices for family homes, make Detroit a prime location for investors. People outside of the state and out of the country have seized the opportunity to flip in this market. In fact, most of the houses in the city have been purchased by investors who decided to get into the market early.   

Helping investors get more bang for their buck

Justin Fontenelle and his team at JustInvestNow are dedicated to getting the most profit for investors who work with them. Thanks to these experts, clients don’t have to find or manage properties on their own. JustInvestNow guides investors throughout the entire process so they can get started on their real estate journeys in the most efficient way possible. The team will start by helping you find a property based on your specific budget. After the ball is rolling, the team also serves as an on-site property management company. With this assistance, investors don’t have to worry about dealing with tenants or communicating with repair service professionals. It also serves as a holding company, so you have less administrative work to handle. Justin Fontenelle is changing the game by making real estate ambitions within reach for anyone.

Fontenelle has made investing in Detroit a no-brainer for anyone who has ever considered getting started in real estate. Being guided by a team of experts to help choose and manage your property is a safe, foolproof way to invest wisely. He is making it clear that there’s no reason to spend your hard earned money in a city that doesn’t serve you as well as Detroit, and you also don’t have to manage everything by yourself. By letting Justin Fontenelle and his team of experts do what they do best, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful landlord in no time. 

For more information on investing in Detroit and how Justin Fontenelle and his team can make the process easy, visit the company website here. 

How Real Estate Investing Queen Sofia Estrada Castro Hopes to Empower Women in the Industry

Sofia Estrada Castro is a name that rings bells amongst the entrepreneurial community, with thousands of women looking up to her because of her resilience, success, and confidence to lead in a male-dominated industry. As a successful real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sofia’s inspirational story can easily capture the attention of any audience.

Long before her well-earned success, Sofia was a determined and hardworking woman trying to find her place in life. Despite dropping out of school in the 10th grade, she pursued different jobs and careers while trying to find her passion. Sofia met her now-husband, Bobby, who always had the dream of becoming an entrepreneur. He asked her if she wanted to work for him on his business venture, so she decided to go for it. And, although the business didn’t work out, she never let that stop her from pursuing her dreams.

“The initial business didn’t work out. Bobby and I both ended up getting jobs elsewhere, but we didn’t lose hope of success. We found a how-to program on building a leasing brokerage that we had to invest in to learn the ropes, and that meant asking my mom to borrow $1800, which was a big deal. We didn’t want to disappoint, so we made sure to use the new information to build something incredible,” shared Sofia Estrada Castro. “I continued working for a cardiologist’s office by day and would work the business at night for a year. Once that first year passed, and we noticed the business was growing in full force, I knew it was time to quit and put my everything into it.”

Putting her all into the work was what Sofia went on to do, ultimately building strong working relationships and learning the ins and outs of the business along the way. While things happened slow yet steady, Sofia and Bobby turned their initial $1800 investment into a company valued at one billion dollars. During this time, her interest in real estate grew, which led to experiences in buying condo conversions and more. While there were ups and downs with plenty of obstacles to overcome while fixing, flipping, buying, and renting, Sofia’s genuine love for real estate kept her motivated to keep moving forward, leading to even more success in real estate investing.

“It’s because of my success in real estate investing that I’ve created Queen Ventures, a business all about helping women who want to get involved in the real estate industry. Getting into this industry is an excellent way to build generational wealth and live comfortably, and I want to help women get in on this opportunity,” said Sofia Estrada Castro. “I provide valuable information based on everything I’ve learned during my time in the industry to help women get started. My goal is to help women become independent and wealthy entrepreneurs who succeed in life.”

While hoping to empower women from all walks of life to learn more about real estate investing, Sofia Estrada Castro is ready to share her knowledge, tips, and tricks with those who can benefit most from it.

Author Bishop Amere J. May Sr. to Release His New Book A Guide For Athletes & Individuals Who’ve Struggled to Win After Loss

All athletes know what it is like to take some heavy losses before they can enjoy their victories. They go through a rigorous process of sharpening their skills, strengthening their bodies, and acquiring the discipline of working hard and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Most athletes would agree that training for competitions is not a walk in the park. In fact, it is safe to say that their training experiences are one of the hardest phases they need to brave before they can find themselves in a position to win. And while many desire to win, not everyone gets to do so, and the cycle of training harder repeats itself all over again. Losing a game, in the end, is harder than many cycles of training combined. 

Book author and thriving minister Bishop Amere J. May, Sr. knows all too well how challenging it is to take all the losses before experiencing a win as a former basketball athlete. Like most athletes, he, too, struggled with the reality of losing to better opponents and contenders. And in basketball, losing comes in various forms, from playing as a team to failing to get the desired draft result. The same plight is also a reality among football and baseball athletes all across the world today. Bishop May, however, found a way to transform his losses into a story of victory that he hopes young athletes today can learn from.

“I lived my story. I know what it means to suffer from a loss and still be a champion,” he revealed. 

This coming April 1, 2022, Bishop May is sharing his unique experiences and story of triumph over losses in his upcoming book titled A Guide For Athletes & Individuals Who’ve Struggled to Win After Loss

After all the hard work, we wake up and our career is over. It may be over before one planned. Oftentimes due to circumstances beyond the athlete’s control. They suffer from a loss.No one enjoys being told that they’re not good enough, but imagine the looks on some of the faces of athletes when they got word that they had been cut,” Bishop May shared. “Much like losing a job, when a great athlete gets turned away from a team, he can either use it as motivation to get better and play with a chip on his shoulder as most do—or wilt away into obscurity,” he added. 

Bishop May gives his readers a clear picture of the realities of being in sports and desiring to be a professional athlete. He cites that in men’s basketball, for instance, there is only a 0.03% chance of landing a professional career. Statistically speaking, this means that among the 156,000 male high school senior basketball players, only 44 will get the opportunity to be drafted into the NBA after college. Among the 127,000 female high school senior basketball players, only 32 or 0.02% will have the chance to be drafted. Football, on the other hand, has a slightly better percentage compared to basketball. With more than 317,000 high school senior players being drafted, 0.08% or 250 get the chance to be drafted. 

“The sport with the most professional opportunities is baseball, with high school players having a 0.4% chance of playing professionally. Though still far less than 1%, the number of opportunities within baseball’s professional development system helps to increase this percentage. Baseball drafts about 600 NCAA athletes from the 6700 college seniors each year, a number that is far higher than any other professional sport and which represents a need to feed its large farm system,” Bishop May explained. 

Through A Guide For Athletes & Individuals Who’ve Struggled to Win After Loss, Bishop May hopes to empower young athletes to acquire a mindset of positivity by understanding how the sports industry works. Helping them see their losses from a better perspective is something that he hopes will transform their trials into stories of victory in the end. 

Starbucks Employees Forming a Union

The Starbucks unionization campaign around the country is gathering steam faster than you can say, “Norma Rae.” 

With millions of foodservice employees frustrated by low wages and poor working conditions that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, employees are unionizing in droves with Gen-Z (born between 1996 and mid-2000s) workers leading the way.

Unions Are Gaining Momentum

According to a 1983 survey by Pew Research, 20 percent of Americans were members of a union. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this percentage fell dramatically in 2020 to 10.8 percent, and even lower for workers between the ages of 16 to 24 at just 4.4 percent in 2020. 

Fast forward to 2021, where we find that 77 percent of young adults support unions, according to a 2021 September Gallup poll.

Since the average age of a Starbucks Barista is 24, it should come as no surprise that these coffee house employees are leading the drive to unionize.

This drive shows no signs of slowing down. More than 90 Starbucks coffee shops in twenty-six states have filed for National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) union elections. This unionization push came two months after two Starbucks shops in Buffalo, New York voted to become the first unionized corporate operated Starbucks in the country.

Management During Uncertain Times

Young union organizers are discovering what the older union veterans already know: Running a successful union is a daunting task. Workers can vote to unionize, but it takes years to handle complicated logistics like contract negotiations and the collection of dues.

Union leaders have their work cut out for them as they scramble to organize the logistical tasks needed for this new surge in membership. Meetings, mitigating member issues, mobilizing, educating, and communications all fall under the responsibility of the union head.

For Labor Unions to best serve their membership, services like Unionly are stepping up to the plate.

Unionly is designed to save union leaders time and frustration by supplying organizers with an easy-to-use payment platform created specifically for the needs of unions. Unionly takes the burden of payment management off leadership, allowing for an intuitive platform to do the heavy lifting so that leaders can focus their energy on advocacy, employee support, negotiating, and organizing.

Retaining Control via Dues Management 

Union dues have traditionally been collected through payroll deductions. This process has been problematic as it has been used as a union-busting tactic. Retaining control of dues by creating new systems, the organization can maintain control of their future success. 

With Unionly, organizations can create custom dues payment pages that best suit their needs. Members can easily pay their union dues from their phones, desktops, or mobile devices. They can also automate their recurring dues payments, so nothing is ever late or in default. The platform provides maximum flexibility so that union leaders don’t have to worry about adding “bill collector” to their laundry list of duties. 

Unionly doesn’t just make dues-paying easier; it is a one-stop-shop for managing other union leadership responsibilities. Through Unionly, organizers can host unlimited fundraisers, manage new member registration and custom online stores for union gear, host and even help manage event registration and sponsorships. 

Union Management for the Twenty-First Century

We live in a digital age, and moving the management of the union to a digital platform will allow organizations to grow and flourish.

As the Starbucks employees lead the way in creating a new form of unionization, they are sure to find that this process is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a gargantuan amount of time, energy, and new organizational methods to pave the road to success for the American worker. 

DMTS: “The shooting must stop, our youth need more mentors and guidance to help lead them to a better life”

Deivone Tanksley Sr, better known as DMTS, is a businessman, musician, author, activist and a family man who started a basketball mentoring program for the youth called New Britain Legacies. This promising program is now in the youth jails around the state. 

Dmts is also the founder of DMTS Network, an entertainment platform for artists and creators. DMTS Network exists to add value to the music industry. DMTS Network aims to empower and add value to the young, talented, and gifted artists by providing proper guidance and mentorship that can help positively save their lives and protect them from people who would take advantage and profit off of their pain and not provide them the support they need.

“Seeing our young gifted artist with no real guidance of life from these labels and companies breaks my heart. Knowing that our communities need real economic change and leadership, I want to share my learnings with the next generation. My story is their story, and where we come from is tough. But when I found out why, I discovered a higher calling to reach the community and pass the message and energy on,” says the activist.

DMTS Network is just one of the many companies elevating the culture. These companies are Rocnation, Springhill, Black Ambition, Yeezy, and United Masters. DMTS is eager to put out the idea that people can experience a change in themselves and our communities, one program and business at a time. “To my co-artists, stay woke. Think about your future and the positive change you can make by changing the energy you project. Let us start to build programs in our communities, computer rooms, sports centers, and other creative things,” says the passionate philanthropist. 

As Deivone Tanksley Sr. grows his networks and partner communities, he is looking forward to creating more record labels and reaching out and inspiring more artists and people from age 11 to 60 from all walks of life like college, kids, politicians, doctors, and more. DMTS has experienced firsthand the issues and problems many face today. Some of the issues he has faced are poverty, violence, and injustice. He has been in and out of jail from eleven, and he has managed to break the cycle of a typical young black kid coming from the bottom. That was when DMTS chose to change his life for the better and give back to his community. 

“Poverty is all in our heads, just like creativity and love,” says the visionary leader. “But it’s up to us to direct our focus and energy on the thing that can bring real change.”

Amid the violence and political divide, Deivone hopes his content will be a message of hope and unity. He launched a music video for his track, “The System,” to express those beliefs and goals.

The heart of Deivone Tanksley Sr goes out to the black or Latino mother or father who lives in fear every day as they head to work and send their kids off to a different place and not knowing if he or she will make it back home. He dreams of seeing young, blessed, and gifted artists heed his advice, starting a youth community program and a small business.

The Candidate Taking on Special Interests in Chicago

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Progressive congressional candidate Junaid Ahmed believes in the awesome power of the United States, of the people who live here, and in our collective ability to build an economy that works for all of us. That’s why he seeks to bring real representation to Congress for the working people of Illinois’ 8th District. His platform features Medicare for all, a thriving wage, immigration reform, and taking big money out of politics.

Ahmed’s Vision

What sets Ahmed apart from incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi? While both are Democrats, Ahmed has emerged as a champion of everyday people.

“Eighteen percent of households in our district make less than $35,000 a year,” he explained. “One in ten in this district does not have any health insurance whatsoever. Fifteen thousand people were unemployed in 2019, and that was before the pandemic. We can do better.”

Ahmed suspects Krishnamoorthi has forgotten the voters that put him in office, raising concerns about the source of the incumbent’s war chest.

“Raja takes donations from big pharma, the healthcare industry, and contracting firms,” he said. “Why is he even a Democrat if he’s taking this money?” 

Conversely, Ahmed’s platform calls for abolishing super PACs and replacing corporate funding with publicly funded elections. He believes the highest bidder shouldn’t get to dictate policies that impact everyday people. This is more evident than ever as Illinois’ governor’s race shapes up to be the most expensive in U.S. history.

Yet according to Ahmed, Krishnamoorthi’s large campaign donations from special interests won’t be enough to buy this election.

“The voters will be the ones who decide this election,” Ahmed said. “I hope everyone who donated will consider joining my team and me as we talk to them.” 

Finding His Call To Action 

“My story is shared with millions of other Americans,” Ahmed said. “I’m a son of an immigrant, and I’m an immigrant myself.”

Ahmed’s parents moved from India to Illinois to give him a shot at a better life. They worked hard so Junaid could live out the American dream.

“I learned the value of hard work and dedication from my father,” he explained. “I have seen him working two jobs, trying so hard to pursue the American dream and provide the best for his family. By watching my father and following his example, I couldn’t learn anything but great dedication, doing the best in your life, and giving back to the community.”

Toward that end, he has committed himself to service his entire adult life. “I’ve volunteered for community organizations, mentoring youth, working with the homeless; that’s my life for the last several decades,” he stated.

Upon graduating from the University of Chicago and developing his professional skills, Ahmed opened a small business and saw success. However, his wife’s student loans burdened the family for decades before they were able to pay them off. 

“As I built my life, I saw it become harder and harder for families to reach the same American Dream my parents fought so hard for. And even when families do reach it, it’s harder to hold on to,” Ahmed said. 

Fighting to restore opportunity for the people in his community, he started volunteering for Democratic candidates in his home state, including Krishnamoorthi. He did the grunt work, canvassing neighborhoods, knocking on doors, and working the phone bank. Only when he realized that Krishnamoorthi wasn’t the leader he had hoped for did he heed his fellow volunteers’ calls to run for office himself.

As a candidate for Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, Ahmed has dedicated himself to keeping the American dream alive. 

The Most Viable Challenger

Despite rejecting donations from corporations and special interests, Ahmend has emerged as the most viable challenger against the incumbent. 

According to recent public filings with the Federal Elections Commission, Ahmed raised $612,716 in 2021. That total is a half million dollars more than Republican challenger Peter Kpsaftis and Democrat Faheem Mohammed raised over the same time period combined. What’s even more impressive is that more than 77% of Ahmed’s donations came from individual donations of $300 or less. 

He has also started accumulating endorsements from like-minded community leaders.

On Feb. 2, the national grassroots organization Peace Action announced its endorsement of Ahmed. 

“Peace Action is thrilled to support Junaid Ahmed in his run for Congress,” said Lilly Dragnev, National Engagement and Campaigns Manager at Peace Action. “He knows where the priorities of those in power should lie; with their constituents, not special interests.” 

Rachel Ventura, a member of the Will County Board, and John Kokoris, a trustee for Gail Borden Public Library District, also believe Ahmed is the strongest candidate in the primary race.

“Very few members of Congress have the courage to stand strong against the perpetual attacks from deep-pocketed interests,” commented Ventura, who is currently running for Illinois State Senate in the 43rd District. “We are both fighting for a government that works for everyone, and that is why I’m honored to help him win!”

“We need more Congressmen who will stand up for people’s dignity like Junaid,” said Kokoris, an activist and community organizer who implemented the most successful off-site Affordable Care Act enrollment in his county. “On every issue — healthcare for all, climate change, war, and more — Junaid is fighting for me and my neighbors, not wealthy donors.”

The Fight Against Corruption, the Main Bet of Bashaga for Libya

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According to a recent report by Transparency International, the African country is one of the ten most corrupt countries in the world.

While the economy of Libya is one of the strongest in Africa because of its large oil and gas reserves, it is also one of the most affected by the corruption phenomenon.

According to a recent Transparency International report, with 173 points, Libya ranks among the 10 countries in the world with the highest corruption perception indexes, along with Equatorial Guinea, South Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, North Korea, Haiti and Venezuela.

In that sense and taking into account the panorama of corruption that Libya has experienced for years, the former Minister of the Interior Fathi Bashaga has decided to undertake a fight against this evil and has proposed, if he becomes president, to give continuity to the anti-corruption programs that he led since his mandate in the Government of National Accord.

“Creating more transparent and fair systems is key to reducing corruption. It will take years to change this culture in Libya, but the beginning must be putting systems in place,” explains Bashaga.

Bashaga vs. corruption

During his tenure as former Minister of the Interior, he signed several agreements to defeat this evil in the country, including a cooperation agreement with the governor of the Central Bank of Libya, Sadiq al-Kabir, to defeat money laundering and terrorist financing within the State.

Bashaga also signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. company K2 Intelligence to establish secure and reliable information-sharing systems, and to track financial crimes and their networks inside and outside Libya.

Bashaga Proposes to Restructure Police in Libya to Restore Security

After the fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011, the situation in Libya has been one of uncertainty and instability; as a result, the country has experienced enormous security challenges due to the constant threat of terrorism and other crimes such as money laundering.

The situation reaches a level that, according to the most recent Global Peace Index, published by the Institute for Economics and Peace, Libya ranks among the 10 most dangerous countries in the world, along with Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Russia and the Central African Republic.

Then what is the formula for restoring security in Libya? According to Fathi Bashaga, candidate for the Presidency of Lybia and former Minister of the Interior, it is necessary to intensify efforts to fight terrorism and organized crime, address deteriorating security conditions, and protect ports and borders.

“Protecting Libyan citizens, restoring stability in the country and building a State based on justice, law and equality requires strengthening cooperation between the various security, military and judicial institutions; and developing training programmes to improve the capacity of the security services,” adds Bashaga.

He also proposes to reform the police and continue the strategies and programs he developed during his tenure at the Ministry of the Interior, where he was able to reach out to citizens and re-establish the Human Rights Office to work hand in hand with human rights organizations, lawyers and justice agencies. He also proposes to launch a system or app that would allow Libyans to file complaints of abuses or violations more quickly and effectively.