The organization is learning a thing or two about building relationships as it works to establish its programming arm in the Hampton Roads region. Blair Durham, co-president of Black BRAND, Hampton Roads Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, recalls her initial meeting with Aleea Slappy of the City of Norfolk.
“It just felt right,” Blair says of their meeting. “Aleea was new in her role and looking to make connections in the same way we were.”
It has indeed been a great connection for both entities. Since their meeting, the two partnered to produce a Doing Business with the City Lunch and Learn, the Build Your Business Bootcamp: a One-Day Expo at the Main, and the wildly popular Focus in Finance/Focus on Funding series which gives business owners a seat at the table with an array of different funding opportunities. Norfolk came in as a key sponsor on the 2017 Black Diamond Affair, a community empowerment event featuring upwards of 175 business owners and community leaders.
January of 2018 would bring about a turning point for the the organization’s relationship with the City of Norfolk. Black BRAND has been eager to push the envelope with inspiring youth entrepreneurship, especially as a driver to solve problems facing the community. So when it launched its Entrepreneur Mentorship pilot at Booker T. Washington High School, Aleea Slappy was one of the first to agree to participate. During the student assembly, Aleea presented “How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Business”, to a crowd of nearly 300 high school seniors. The program went on to produce several business owners and awarded over $1700 in business grants to students who successfully completed the program and won the pitch contest.
“After we finished the pilot, it was a very casual conversation with Aleea. I let her know we were seeking funding to execute the program in an even bigger way for this coming fall. She said send over the info!” Blair says.
And within two weeks, Black BRAND received a check for $5000 and the City of Norfolk became the presenting sponsor for the program.
This years program will include the Entrepreneur Fair as a part of homecoming week at Booker T. Mentors will have 10 weeks to prepare students for the November 17 pitch contest. Students will meet with attorneys, CPAs, pitch coaches and marketing professionals to build their skill and they will even attend a business networking event. Last, winners from both cohorts will be featured at this years Black Diamond Affair.
“We are truly excited about all Black BRAND is doing for our students and look forward to continuing to work with them,” says Dr. Margie Stallings, principal of Booker T. Washington High school.
Co-President, Black BRAND
Hampton Roads Regional Black Chamber of Commerce
757.541.2680 | 757-288-7400
Promoting group economics through professional development and community empowerment.