Dr. BraVada Akinsanya came home from work crying one day. As a psychologist she was privy to the unfortunate circumstances of her clients’ lives. Some of her clients were deemed poverty stricken, abused and hopeless. Dr. BraVada Akinsanya came home from work crying one day. As a psychologist she was privy to the unfortunate circumstances of her clients’ lives. Some of her clients were deemed poverty stricken, abused and hopeless. For example: A woman living in a condemned apartment complex, complained to her landlord about roaches, rats, and maintenance. The landlord threatened to throw her out in the middle of winter, unless she provided him sexual favors. She prostituted her body to keep a home for her children.
Another woman living in an apartment complex, said Akinsanya, had a son with behavioral problems. One day the child kicked out the screen and was hanging out the second floor window, threatening to jump. The landlord ordered the mother and child to leave. The mother was in desperate need for a house, but couldn’t afford it. Dr. Akinsanya said, "I remembered these two cases and going home and crying and asking [her husband] Yele, ‘can’t somebody do something about this. Why is this place so messed up that folks trying to do something don’t even have an opportunity?’"
When the Akinsanyas moved to Minnesota, they discovered housing was ‘difficult and expensive.’ "So as always when I cry with my husband he hears me. And he started visualizing what he could do," said Dr. Akinsanya.
Thus, Brakins, Inc. began operation on June 25, 2002. Brakins, Inc has two subsidiaries: Brakins Homes, the home and construction division, and Brakins Development, LLC, the realty or line development division. Yele is CEO, and responsible for the day to day administration of the company. Dr. Akinsanya is also CEO and chairperson, responsible for overseeing the policy and management of the company.
Before starting the company Yele was working at a major corporation, and decided there was more important work to do. His background suited him perfectly for the building industry. Yele has three master’s degrees: one in public administration, the other in business administration, and one in urban and regional planning. In 1989, after obtaining the final masters degree in urban and regional planning, from Texas A & M University, Yele began his career in infrastructural development. He worked with Metro Transit in Houston; worked on rail systems and HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes; and worked on the planning of HOV lanes, rail systems and transit systems. "Yele is really a business man. He knows how to work in city government to get things done. He is a good business manager, he knows how to get organized and create worth," said Dr. Akinsanya.
Dr. Akinsanya said building affordable quality homes was imperative especially when restrictions were placed on subsidized housing. "Some of these systems, like subsidized housing, have restrictions on people having air conditioning or having nice things in the house. That gave us more impetus to create quality in the way we [build homes]. Putting extras in the house that they don’t think we as Black people or poor people are entitled to," she said.
The Akinsanyas believe if other builders provide the same amenities they offer, for the same price then everybody benefits. This forces everybody to maintain the same standard at a reasonable price for homeowners.
By December of 2003 Brakins Homes will have built 15 to 20 homes. Last year, Yele received the Dynamic Homes Outstanding Sales Achievement Bronze Performer Award. Out of 15 award recipients Yele was the only African American. This is an example of challenges the Akinsanyas have faced. Some challenges are foreseen and manageable. For example, the company builds homes with modular building technology. This means houses are built in a confined environment, eliminating environmental effects. Yele said, "The culture of the construction industry doesn’t always promote good and cost effective business practices. We try as much a