The African Leadership Group’s first-ever, six-week entrepreneurship workshop was a huge success, and the second cohort launches today, June 6. Stay tuned for future cohorts, to be announced soon.
The workshop, led by ALG’s own Dr. Jamal Bowen, focuses on helping people successfully launch new businesses, or develop solid foundations for existing businesses.
Participants meet twice each week for six weeks, receiving detailed information on all aspects of conceiving and starting a business.
“The goal of this workshop is for individuals to know the importance of building your business and also knowing how to conduct a business in the right way,” Dr. Bowen said.
“There’s more to being successful in business than just doing business. You need a plan in place to guide you through and also to help you receive the funding that you need. So many of us create businesses and we never really have a clear plan. This workshop is a great opportunity for individuals to create that plan and put it into action.”
Members of the first cohort of workshop participants said they learned a tremendous amount of valuable information in just a few weeks.
Elizabeth Wamukoya, who is launching a music publishing business called Hilltop Music Ltd., said the workshop gave her indispensable knowledge she previously lacked.
“What I’ve learned from this workshop is the real importance of due diligence,” Elizabeth said in an interview with ALG. “In business it is important to have passion. But you also really need to know how to handle everything administratively as well as pitching in front of investors and building revenue. I have come to appreciate that what I’m trying to do is not easy, especially with artists, who don’t tend to think in terms of making a profit.”
The workshop is free after a $50 registration fee. Elizabeth said the business planning and other templates provided to participants alone make the $50 cost “a steal.” She said she would encourage anyone interested in starting a business to apply for the next cohort.
“By the end of this you will have learned how to make a business plan. You will have learned about financials, accounting, taxes, even being given the opportunity to pitch to potential investors. You always have an opportunity to put into practice in real time what you have just learned. They’re really investing in you even as you’re investing in yourself and I think that that is a great environment to be around.”
People in the class have bonded quickly, Elizabeth said. “I especially appreciate the collaborative environment,” she said. “Everyone who’s in the class is so positive and so encouraging and supportive. People are already supporting each other’s businesses and partnering together and really helping each other out.”
LaToya Matthews, another workshop participant, said he learned the hard way what happens when you start a business on a shaky foundation. LaToya ran a women’s ready-to-wear fashion business in Atlanta for 18 months, before being forced to close it “because of my lack of business savvy.”
“I wasn’t an LLC so I couldn’t take advantage of tax write-offs. I didn’t network enough. And as far as my business concept and business plan, well, I didn’t have one.”
Now a Denver-area resident, LaToya said the entrepreneurship workshop is giving her the knowledge to avoid making the same mistakes twice. She plans to start a business running motivational seminars based on a book she is writing on biblical affirmations. The workshop will help make that possible, she said.
When her last business failed, “I felt like I gave it 110% And it really kind of put a pin in a balloon. But with this workshop, you get everything that you need to know to start from the ground up. So any holes that you had in your business plan prior to it, you know exactly what you need to do in order to get it done.”