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InnoPower minority business conference to focus on entrepreneurship, competitiveness

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The 2021 InnoPower Minority Business Week will feature more than 150 speakers and five days of virtual programming, including a global summit focusing on connecting U.S. and African entrepreneurs. The conference will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 14-18.

Innopower founder and CEO Emil Ekiyor said the conference is especially important this year because it will help teach leaders, such as educators, entrepreneurs and investors, how they can uplift the most vulnerable populations, which disproportionately suffered from issues such as finding jobs or keeping their businesses open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each day of the conference will focus on one of five themes: competitiveness, education, workforce development, entrepreneurship and going global. These five themes help emphasize the different approaches that must be taken to cultivate minority talent and create an equitable society, InnoPower event chair Rupal Thanawala said.

Ekiyor said workforce development day speakers will focus on teaching methods to develop minority talent and help organizations reach vulnerable communities to seek potential employees.

Linda Calvin, vice president for the School of IT at Ivy Tech Community College, will speak on workforce development day about ways companies can hire more employees from minority populations. During her session, she will talk about how businesses can develop partnerships with schools such as Ivy Tech to create a talent-to-workforce pipeline that puts students straight into a job and helps companies function more efficiently.

“Diversity fuels innovation,” she said. “Companies that have a more diverse staff and diverse teams will see a bigger yield in revenue and in innovation.”

The entrepreneurship day sessions will teach attendees essential skills for starting and scaling a business and creative methods for problem-solving.

Mambu Sherman, vice president of global philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase & Co., will discuss the results of a study conducted by the company to determine challenges Indianapolis small business owners face. Some of the difficulties for minority owners include access to capital and lack of support from those involved in small businesses, such as bank executives, policymakers and funders.

The competitiveness day will focus on the importance of a competitive mindset in creating an equitable environment, Ekiyor said. Education day speakers will talk about new practices teachers can use to help students more effectively prepare for different careers and will celebrate different education entrepreneurs who have implemented some of these techniques. The Going Global Summit on day five will focus on making connections between U.S. and African entrepreneurs in order to create international business opportunities.

Doneisha Posey, vice president of diversity, equity and belonging for Ivy Tech, will be an emcee for the workforce development day. Posey said the InnoPower conference is important because it brings multiple community leaders together to have important conversations regarding equity and uplifting vulnerable populations.

Ekiyor said although attendees with different backgrounds, such as Black professionals, nonprofit employees and policymakers, have different lessons to learn from the conference, he hopes every attendee sees the opportunities that are present in Black communities.

“The biggest opportunity we have as a nation is to unleash the unbeatable potential that exists in our Black communities,” he said.

Register for the free virtual conference on the InnoPower website, innopowerindy.com, or watch the conference broadcast June 14-18 on the Indianapolis Recorder Facebook.

Contact staff writer Madison Smalstig at 317-924-5143. Follow her on Twitter @madi_smals.

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