Black Entrepreneur Initiative to Host Block Party Featuring Black-Owned Businesses


The Black Entrepreneur Initiative serves to cultivate black entrepreneurs at UNC, while providing a space for black entrepreneurs to profit from and promote their businesses. The organization has three main objectives: to promote, to inform and to connect.

“I think the three goals themselves have a central mission – and that’s just to elevate the black community within reach,” said BEI co-chair Eliam Mussie.

The organization was co-founded by students Kene Uwajeh and Sherrod Crum, and began as a community for black business owners, students with businesses, and those interested in the field of entrepreneurship.

“Historically, black people have been excluded from some of these spaces. Black businesses don’t get as much promotion as some other types of businesses,” said BEI co-chair Richard Okoro. “I feel like it also has a bigger effect on the black community as a whole and not seeing other business owners who look like you.”

He said the initiative educates members of the Carolina community in entrepreneurship in everything from business to medicine to marketing, and helps them grow professionally.

“Thinking like an entrepreneur is a great skill to have,” said John Obiefuna, event coordinator for the BEI. “Whatever your career, thinking like an entrepreneur will take you far, that’s for sure.”

The organization organizes several events, such as pop-up shops and a block party every semester. They also hold application workshops for the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship and 1789 Student Venture Funding. They aim to connect budding entrepreneurs with professionals by hosting speaker series.

Additionally, this year, Mussie said BEI is planning other events, such as a black formal that doubles as a fundraising event, and a startup launch contest similar to Shark Tank that will provide mentorship. and advice to participants.

They are also currently working to expand into other universities, such as UNC-Greensboro, NC Agricultural and Technical State University, NC State University, and Duke University.

“We want to reach new heights this year by organizing events, programs and information sessions so that more students of color have access to knowledge about entrepreneurship,” Mussie said.

The neighborhood party

BEI organizes a neighborhood party on September 10 in front of the bell tower from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The organization anticipates that this event will be its largest to date.

“It’s really cool how it started as a small idea last year,” Okoro said. “Now it has become a tradition, and we will continue to do so.”

The event will feature student organizations such as the Black Student Movement and the Organization for the Interests and Solidarity of African Students. They will not only include Black-owned businesses in the community, as well as food trucks and vendors like Ben & Jerry’s and Sunshine Slushies.

The UNC vs. Georgia State University football game will air live at 12 p.m. during the block party.

“I believe the block party is going to be a great catalyst for what we have for the rest of the year,” Obiefuna said.

Mussie said he started his own business, Franklin St. Market, after the first block party. He felt inspired to start it after meeting board members such as Okoro and BEI Vice President Morgan Taylor, whose interest in the organization was sparked by the opportunity to promote their own businesses.

“There will also be a lot of people who want to be inspired, or at least experience the black excellence that we have on this campus, and other campuses around us as well,” Obiefuna said.


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