Craven Community College’s (Craven CC) Small Business Center (SBC) celebrated the first graduates of the Workshops in Business Opportunity (WIBO) program during a ceremony at the Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist church. The church was also the location where the entrepreneurs met every Tuesday evening for 16 weeks.
SBC’s first class of WIBO participants were: Jackie Allen, Celia Rose Decor; Maurice Cunningham, Phoenix Solutions; Tammie Dean, Shani’s Beautique; Doris Franks-McGhee, Old Trees Regenerating; Mavis Joseph, Angie’s Alterations; Princeton McAfee, McAfee Tech and Princeton’s Kool Korner; India Murray, Providence Body Butter; Mary Peterkin, Entrepreneur’s Outlet; Roddrick Pugh, Young Gentlemen United; Sharon Taylor-Fernandes, Herbalife.
WIBO, founded in 1996 in Harlem, NY, is a non-profit organization (wibo.org) that “enables small businesses and budding entrepreneurs from underserved communities to obtain financial success by starting, operating, and building successful businesses that develop economic power, provide jobs and improve communities.”
Jill Johnson, chief executive officer of WIBO and Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, addressed the graduates. “It was not designed to be easy,” Johnson said. She said the entrepreneurs now have a solid foundation to make success possible.
WIBO graduate McAfee has been an entrepreneur for almost half his life and he is 23 years old. McAfee started Princeton’s Kool Korner concessions when he was 12 and still runs that business today. He participated in WIBO to help focus his vision for another business, McAfee Tech, he started while in high school. He said he also learned how to better present himself and his business to others.
Each week, a volunteer workshop leader from the community facilitated a discussion about a particular aspect of business such as legal, marketing and finance. The participants also receive one-on-one business counseling from Alex Frelier, SBC director.
“The WIBO program is tried and true and a good program,” said Leigh Anne Friesen, the SBC’s WIBO program administrator and work-group leader. According to WIBO, “54% of WIBO graduates are in business after five years, compared to the 20% national average.”
The SBC joined WIBO Affiliate Partner network with funding provided by Craven County Economic Development through a Z. Smith Reynolds grant. The grant funding was administrated by Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation. Other organization supporters included Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, Greater Duffyfield Residents Council, New Bern Chamber of Commerce, and Uptown Business and Professional Association.
Frelier said the success of the first class came as a result of community partnerships, integrated curriculum from beginning to end, and the experienced professionals who facilitated weekly discussions, including Pastor Divine Ayivor, Georgiana Bowman Bircher, Nancy Childs, Jonathan Friesen, Deborah Kania, Tharesa C. Lee, Jeff Medlin, Kelly Michaud, Charles N. Parker, Jr., Marie Phillips, Corey Purdie, and Greg Singleton.
The SBC offers free training and business consultations to entrepreneurs and is part of a network of centers at 58 N.C. community colleges. For more information about the SBC, call 252-638-1088 or visit the college’s website at: www.cravencc.edu/sbc.
Deborah Kania is the director of communications at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in New Bern Sun Journal.