Helping Black Businesses Succeed Through Education
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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EPiC Measures also helps young people learn the ropes through training and assistantship opportunities. For example, when she met the owners of BLAC Sheep Barbering Ltd., a barbershop started by students at the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, Edwards was so impressed by their entrepreneurial vision that she conceived an idea for an ongoing dialogue with them and the owners of Statz Barber Shop, which was founded on Morehouse College’s campus, and has a similar back story and clientele. Edwards then learned that BLAC Sheep Barbering also hosted business networking and leadership events for its customers and others in the community. She later collaborated with BLAC Sheep, providing her marketing and branding expertise, and lining up small business experts to speak via live Skype feed at the Global Business Mixer, an event that featured virtual participation from entities around the globe, including the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co., the Entrepreneur Incubator Academy in Cape Town, South Africa, and the Entrepreneurship Education Project. As a result of the event, BLAC Sheep Barbering garnered media coverage and a local sponsor, First Citizens Bank in Port of Spain. BLAC Sheep also noticed a 40% increase in brand awareness through social media. “It was an opportunity for me to not only work with a new business and expand my reach and visibility in that country, but also to work with a group of young people who are passionate about paying it forward,” she says.

These days, Edwards’ work has come full circle as she has encountered five former students from DeKalb schools and one whom she mentored while she was a student in Chicago. All are involved in entrepreneurial ventures.

Whether she’s teaching, consulting, or mentoring a minority entrepreneur, Edwards’ philosophy remains the same. “While it’s important to financially support the creation and growth of minority-owned businesses, I’ve found it more rewarding to ensure that business owners have the wherewithal to excel, increase, and prosper perpetually.”

HOW SHE DID IT

Be more than a patron. Not only does Edwards look for opportunities to patronize black-owned businesses, she also serves as a cheerleader for them, making a conscious effort to link any business she comes across with a specific need with black-owned companies that can fill it. “Whenever I’m working with existing clients I go through my contacts and send [minority business owners] a note letting them know about potential leads,” she says. She also hires black-owned firms when she outsources marketing or branding tasks. Moreover, she attends business networking events, where she often meets entrepreneurs who can serve as vendors in the future.

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