When Indiana Black Expo put a call out for 25 businesses to participate in a six-week program for Black businesses, 125 showed up.
Undaunted by the overwhelming response, Jonathan Warren, owner of Market Square Popcorn and IBE Black Business Training Institute participant, said “IBE came with it.”
Warren, a serial entrepreneur, said that the biggest benefit for him was the resources IBE brought to the program.
“Small business owners often don’t know enough people,” he said, so having the opportunity to meet bankers and accountants was infinitely valuable.
But he also stressed that not only did IBE bring professionals who businesses need to have a relationship with, but the cohort also is a resource.
Warren observed that, “We often try to go to big businesses, but smaller businesses can do well when they work together.”
Trezanay Atkins with tmalaw, the lawyer for brands, joined the program because she had a service that is selling but she said, “I needed to know how to make this a business.”
Atkins helps businesses understand how to protect and monetize intellectual property and brand assets. She says her firm is specifically designed to serve marginalized populations.
Atkins believed the program was affirming and empowering. It helped her “fill in the gaps” as she seeks to scale her business. The program helped her confirm, “I got what it takes.”
The six-week program featured sessions on access to capital, how to build teams and other business topics.
A key takeaway from the program was to revisit business plans. After a pandemic and even the racial reckoning, the business environment has changed. We are living in a new normal with all its challenges and possibilities.
Program participants learned that revisiting the business plan is a way to stay relevant to customers and to ensure that the foundation of the business is solid.
Plans are in development for another cohort of the program. But outgoing IBE President and CEO Tanya Mckinzie’s vision didn’t end at the institute.
As Summer Celebration returned to the Indiana Convention Center, Mckinzie seized on an opportunity to showcase Black excellence in business.
From noon-7 p.m. July 15, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. July 16 and noon-7 p.m. July 17, Black Wall Street will feature a variety of Black businesses in Hall H at the Indiana Convention Center. The exhibit is free.
Warren will use the opportunity to serve up his sweet heat, caramel and Chicago style popcorns. But he is also planning on networking to identify people focused on special events, fundraisers and weddings.
Aktins will provide free legal advice, as long as the questions are about trademarks and protecting brands.
She is excited to be in the space to let people know that firms like hers exist. For Atkins, “It isn’t that people don’t know that they need my services — they’re looking for someone who looks like them.”
As Black entrepreneurship continues to emerge as a response to both the challenges and opportunities presented by our new normal, both IBE Black Business Training Institute and the Black Wall Street are exciting developments that are meeting the moment.
Marshawn Wolley is a lecturer, commentator, business owner and civic entrepreneur. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.