Entrepreneur parley again set at Morgan Weekend of meetings will showcase small, black-run enterprises

Networking, making sales

40 firms expected to join in workshops, internship, job hunt

October 26, 1998|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Robert E. De'Shazo, owner of Pulaski Tire Service, walked away from the Black Entrepreneurship Weekend at Morgan State University last year with a deal to service a company's fleet of vehicles, and two interns who helped him research his business plan.

Not bad for a first-time event, he said.

And for that reason, Black Professional Men Inc. and the university's Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management will play host to their second annual Black Entrepreneurship Weekend on Nov. 6 and 7.

The two-day event at Morgan's McKeldin Center offers black-owned or black-operated businesses a venue where they can sell the community on their services and products, hire interns and employees, and attend business workshops.

The event also offers opportunities for businesses to network with procurement officers from the city, state, and local companies who are searching for vendors, and representatives from financial institutions that make loans to small businesses.

In turn, students and community members hope to find internships and jobs, sit in on workshops and find black businesses they might want to patronize.

"Any time you're plugging away at a business, you have to make something happen," said De'Shazo, owner of the Rosedale car service center. "I was at the entrepreneurship weekend, I seized the moment and it has helped my business."

Edwin V. Avent, co-founder of Black Professional Men Inc., a nonprofit group dedicated to the economic and educational development of the African-American community, said, "There's not enough showcasing of African-American businesses in the city."

Avent is the founder, president and chief executive of U.S. Prevention Marketing Group, a marketing company on St. Paul Street. He also co-owned the Redwood Grill restaurant on Calvert Street for two years before he sold it recently.

The weekend is part of Black Professional Men's goal of helping "African-Americans to take control of their economic destinies," Avent said.

Founded in 1991, the organization has 55 active members, a quarter of whom are business owners, he said.

"Very rarely is there a venue specifically for small, black businesses, and because our students are developing an interest in entrepreneurship, we saw it as an excellent opportunity to bridge that gap," said Kenneth Westary, director of corporate relations for the Graves School.

About 40 businesses are expected to attend this year, including established businesses such as the Afro-American Newspapers and much smaller enterprises akin to the Pulaski Tire Center, Avent said.

"A lot of times, it's difficult getting the word out that there are small, black businesses, and we're doing the same things as the larger companies," said Verdel Elliott, director of human resources for the Afro-American Newspapers, in the 2500 block of N. Charles St.

xTC The newspaper company recruited for interns at the event last year and plans to attend this year, she said.

The Entrepreneurship Weekend is free to the public. Businesses wishing to display their products or services at a vendor table are charged $100 for the weekend and $60 for one day.

Pub Date: 10/26/98

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