Meet Facebook’s Social Justice Economist

Jason Trimiew MA ’07 leads the social media giant’s diverse-owned business initiative

By ED CARPENTER, USF NEWS Posted Tue, 10/17/2017 - 15:47

Studying economics at USF helped Jason Trimiew MA ’07 see how he could help spread economic success — in particular to businesses run by underrepresented groups like minorities and women. Today, he leads Facebook’s initiative to contract with diverse-owned businesses to organize public events, provide IT staffing and services, craft healthy snacks for the social media giant’s employees, and more.

"I'm deeply passionate about linking disconnected communities to economic opportunity, in particular businesses owned by people of color," says Trimiew, who came to the job a year ago after leading a similar effort for The Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and overseeing fundraising and communications for jobs-incubator REDF.

Nationwide, just 18 percent of businesses are owned by minorities, yet minorities comprise almost 40 percent of the population; and women-owned businesses make up 19 percent of the economy, while women make up 51 percent of the population, U.S. Census Bureau data shows. 

Creating wealth for families

As head of Facebook’s supplier diversity initiative, his team’s mission is to connect businesses run by racial and ethnic minorities, women, veterans, and LGBTQ individuals to Facebook — and to other potential clients.

For Filipino-owned juice maker Mansi, that means providing its healthy drinks to hundreds of employees and visitors to Facebook's micro-kitchens at its Menlo Park, California and New York City offices.

For Freddie George Production Group (FG|PG), a women-owned and operated venture, that means organizing about 11 Facebook events a year, including its 4,000 person developers conference. 

"Jason is a great person to work with," says Frederique “Freddie” Georges, president and CEO  of FG|PG — who, as a naturalized American citizen from Baghdad, has made diversity part of her company's DNA. "He has referred both internal Facebook clients as well as outside businesses to FG|PG, including but not limited to big company names like Airbnb."

New economies, new communities

Trimiew chose USF's international development economics program because it was one of the only programs of its kind in the country.

“It's one of the few programs I could find that embeds the idea of developing new economies and even new communities as part of the economics program,” says Trimiew, who previously worked in Kenya for international relief organization Food for the Hungry. “Other programs offer economics degrees with some international politics, development, and sociology courses appended. But economic justice and serving the underrepresented are part of nearly every course at USF."

Another benefit was the small classes sizes that allowed him to get to know faculty and classmates on a personal level. It led to him join and lead multiple student-research projects about microfinance that were overseen by Professor Bruce Wydick.

“At USF, I saw students taking their values and applying rigorous academic standards to solve real-world problems,” Trimiew says. “That was something I was passionate about when I came to USF and that USF affirmed for me, and that I continue to be passionate about today.”

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