Group to assist entrepreneurs

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Members of the National Black MBA Association, Inc. Pittsburgh Chapter are looking for forward thinking African-American business owners.

Offering a two-fold opportunity, the group recently introduced the Professional Business Services Network Program which is recruiting recipients and providers.

ItTakesStrongTeam
IT TAKES A STRONG TEAM—Kevin Cameron, Cameil Williams, James Shealey and Larry Pickett; members of the National Black MBA Association, Inc. Pittsburgh Chapter played a pivotal role in establishing their new business initiative. (Photo by Diane Daniels)

“This launch is designed to set the framework to move us into the future,” said Cameil Williams, president of Williams Management, LLC and developer of the program. She described PBSN as a unified economic development initiative aimed at positively impacting the conditions of African-American businesses in the Pittsburgh region.

The new initiative is focused on improving the economic conditions of small businesses with the primary purpose to strengthen opportunities for entrepreneurship among African-Americans, said Larry Pickett, the chapter Business and Economic Development Director. The PBSN will focus on providing critical services needed by African-American business owners with eligible business owners receiving up to an 80 percent discount on services offered. Professional services are inclusive of but not limited to marketing, legal, accounting and technology.

Eligibility requires recipients and providers to be current members in good standing with the NBMBAAPGH; to complete a PBSN eligibility application and submit requested information at the time the application is presented; to participate in an interview process with the PBSN Project Manager and possibly members of the Business and Economic Development Committee; and to attend a matchmaking session.

Hired as consultants for the initiative, Williams and James Shealey, a managing partner in Omni Associates. The two are examples as to how the NBMBAAP strive to fulfill the purpose of the PBSN to strengthen opportunities for entrepreneurs. Williams Management Solutions is a project management firm that develops and manages major economic development projects. Her responsibilities on the project included designing and launching PBSN as well as conducting a test market initiative.

Omni Associates, a one-stop shop that provides graphic design, marketing, web development, print management and office supplies redesigned the NBMBAAP website and logo.

Other businesses involved in the test market included Acuta Digital Inc., Meyer, Unkovic and Scott and Bynum Marketing and Communications as providers. Recipients were CMU Solutions, Cosmos Technologies, Inc. and the People Insurance Agency, Inc.

Established in 1984, the mission of the NBMBAAP is to create economic and intellectual wealth in the African-American community. An affiliate of the National Black MBA Association, a national organization founded in 1970, the non-profit group consists of a mix of minority MBAs, business professionals, entrepreneurs and MBA students. It encompasses over 40 chapters in major cities nationwide and Canada with close to 8,000 members working in both private and public sectors throughout the country. The group shares a commitment to education and business; what they consider two principal keys to the economic development of the African-American community. One of 11 chapters based in the Eastern Region, the Pittsburgh chapter is the first and only offering the PBSN.

Enthusiastic about the organization nationally and locally, Kevin Cameron, NBMBAAP president since 2008 believes his chapter has to bring solutions to challenges facing the community. “We are on a journey. Our goal is to leverage resources.”

With the vision to become the premiere Black professional organization in the Greater Pittsburgh Region by 2012, Cameron said he and the executive committees’ goals to accomplish such an undertaking are to increase the membership base; to increase partnerships and to increase career opportunities for the membership. Since his presidency he pointed out that the chapter membership is at an all-time high of 291 with the goal to reach 300. When he took over three years ago, he said there were 70 members and in July of this year the chapter grew by an addition of 84 new members. Cameron said the chapter had a good 2010 and their plan is to continue to build on those successes.

Pleased with the groups’ partnerships, he identified the PBSN strategic partner as the Heinz Endowments and major partners as PNC, Prudential Financial, UPMC, Highmark and State Farm Insurance, BNY Mellon, McKesson, Glaxo Smith Kline, Macy’s, IUP and the University of Pittsburgh Pitt Business Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

Cameron said the Chapter will continue to gain strength through increasing membership, partnerships, relevant programs and activities that result in intellectual and economic wealth for Blacks.

“We believe entrepreneurs play an important role in rebuilding the region,” said Pickett. “The National Black MBA Association Pittsburgh Chapter, we hope to serve as an agent to strengthen African-American businesses. We are moving beyond the atmosphere. With the Professional Business Services Network we are launching into the future.”

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