Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Network gives entrepreneurs a leg up

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LOCAL African-Canadian entrepreneurs have created their own business network in a bid to grow their businesses and encourage other newcomers to follow in their footsteps.

The People of African Heritage Business Network (PAH Business Network) has eight founding members, some of who have been around for a decade or more and others who have been in business for less than a year.

"One of the reasons we started it is our belief that we need to bring together all African-heritage businesspersons and prospective entrepreneurs to brainstorm on how we can best build and widen our business network...," said network chairman Lana Adeleye-Olusae.

Adeleye-Olusae, who owns Surefooting Consulting, Training and Coaching, said it's difficult to get a handle on exactly how many PAH businesses there are in Winnipeg because many are part-time, home-based enterprises rather than full-time, storefront operations. But his best guess is there are at least 30.

The ones who belong to the business network include an accounting firm, a graphic-design studio, a financial and investment advisory company, a beverage manufacturer/marketer and several consultants in the management consulting, import-export and information technology fields.

A second reason for launching the network was to encourage more immigrants to consider entrepreneurism as a career and show them where to go for information and help in launching and growing their business.

"A lot of times they don't necessarily know what the rules are or even know where to start," said Segun Olude, another network founder and owner of Indigo Ink Studios, a local graphic-design shop. "They just have ideas."

Olude said network members can also offer advice and provide services for the fledgling firms.

"I've done business with a couple of the other members already. That's another thing we try to encourage."

A third reason for establishing the network was to help PAH businesses connect with other local businesses through organizations like the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, where the network has its own chapter.

"It's not just about African businesses working with African businesses," Olude said. "You can't work in a vacuum."

Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Dave Angus said about half a dozen ethnic business groups belong to the Winnipeg chamber, including groups from the Islamic, Filipino, Latin American, Indo-Chinese and aboriginal communities.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 18, 2012 B6

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