Entrepreneurs Summit: Our 20-year Mission to Advance Black Business Achievement

This year marks the two decades of our annual small business conference, where you can build your network and grow your company

Black Enterprise CEO Earl "Butch" Graves Jr. and 2014 Elevator Pitch winner Gwen Jimmere
Black Enterprise CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. and 2014 Elevator Pitch winner Gwen Jimmere

To grow your company, it is critical to gain access to sound counsel, to identify viable sources of capital, and to build a strong network that continually shares revenue-generating opportunities. This is especially true for African American firms that must navigate a series of land mines in order to reach commercial success.

That’s why 20 years ago we launched our Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo, bringing to life the lessons and legends regularly found on the pages of our magazine. For two decades, we have crisscrossed this vast nation to spread the gospel of business advancement and equity, holding our events in Orlando, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Dallas; Chicago; and Atlanta, to name but a few host cities. As such, we helped fuel the aspirations of thousands of African American entrepreneurs through up-close-and-personal instruction and inspiration. We have used our conference to celebrate the accomplishments of a range of exceptional black companies—large and small—from our Small Business Awards Luncheon to the gala recognizing our BE 100s Companies of the Year and recipients of the A. G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award, our highest honor for business excellence. Moreover, we have created one of the nation’s most powerful platforms for connecting—enabling legions of entrepreneurs to expand their networks, develop and deepen relationships, and, most importantly, do business with one another.

I have always been extremely proud of and, along with our attendees, thoroughly impressed with the trailblazers who have graced the stage of our conference to share their success secrets. Those business luminaries have included intrepid billionaire dealmaker Bob Johnson, business all-star Magic Johnson, empire builder Janice Bryant Howroyd, and music and fashion innovator Russell Simmons, among others. But what has been most exhilarating to me is my discovery of and connection with everyday entrepreneurs who have ingenuity, audacity, and tenacity. In fact, I have witnessed a number of them cut deals, gain financing, acquire contracts, and forge partnerships as byproducts of their conference attendance. Our event—which for years aptly boasted the tagline “Where Deals Are Made”—represents the next stage of the evolution my father envisioned for Black Enterprise.

[Related: Tips on Turning Passion Into Enterprise]

So we mark this milestone event as a multimedia company and have reframed our conference in tandem with today’s  changing business dynamics: Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit—Where Innovation & Funding Meet.

Our intent: To help you gain the vital resources to advance your viable idea or vastly improve your current business model. We’ve upgraded our content to reveal new ways for you to access millions in angel and venture financing and scale up your enterprise to secure mammoth, business-building contracts. We will introduce you to leading experts and business coaches who can help boost business performance multifold or effectively apply tech solutions to beef up operations and branding efforts. Take a chance at our enhanced Elevator Pitch competition and gain the opportunity to win a $10,000 cash prize and ongoing business consultation. Last year’s winner, Gwen Jimmere, founder and CEO of haircare products maker Naturalicious, says, “What I gained in terms of relationships, mentorship, and financing has been the single most beneficial thing I have done for my business.”

[Related: Steve Harvey Confirmed as Speaker at Entrepreneurs Summit]

I encourage you to attend our event. For more detail and to register,  go to www.blackenterprise.com/es. It’s designed to help you leverage your creativity, embrace innovation, and attract funding. By providing information and tools for our companies to expand into much larger entities, we continue our 20-year mission to enable African Americans to succeed within the global economy as wealth builders and job creators. As we face new challenges, as well as launch promising new ventures, black enterprise will use our summit to stoke our indomitable entrepreneurial spirit.

The Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit hosted by Nationwide is set for May 13–16, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Expect innovative sessions, high-powered speakers, and an early peek at the products, trends, and services you’ll need to stay ahead of the curve.  To register and find out more, visit www.blackenterprise.com/es/. Join us at the Entrepreneurs Summit, Where Innovation and Capital Meet.


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