April 23,1998

Black community responds to business seminar

A strong contingent from Montreal's black community came to Concordia for an intensive three-day seminar for entrepreneurs and professionals recently.

The seminar was launched with an evening reception on March 26, and the sessions were held throughout the next two days and the following Saturday.

The 23 participants ranged from young people about to start independent business careers to school principals ready to take early retirement and strike out on a new path.

Seven members of the faculty of Commerce and Administration gave sessions on such topics as financial management and control, conflict management, and current business issues. The three days wound up with presentations by the participants of their own business plans.

The catalyst for the seminar was Decision Sciences Professor Clarence Bayne, Director of the Diploma in Administration and Sport Administration programs and a longtime activist in the black community. He was impressed with the quality of the plans that were presented in the final session.

"Some projects were very elaborate," Bayne said. "There was one ambitious project on health care which took a year to put together and will have start-up capital from Africa. The corporate plan ran to 100 pages." The project would export equipment and home-care services to clients in developing countries, and invest in home care and other health-care delivery services here in Canada.

A typical smaller-scale project was the jewellery business described by a young man. He will design wearable miniature versions of a client's home, or a favourite object.

The seminar was sponsored by Concordia's Minority Institute of the Faculty of Commerce and Administration, and a non-profit community group, the Institute for Organizational Development and Training of the Black Studies Centre.

While the seminar was outreach to a community that needs a stronger business voice rather than a recruiting tool for Concordia, Bayne said that the seminar is bound to have "a significant ripple effect."

Many of the attendees are Sir George Williams or Concordia graduates who are now well placed in the black community. Several were representatives of the Quebec Board of Black Educators, who run PSBGM-accredited summer courses touching about 700 students a year. The success of this seminar, Bayne said, "makes them feel there's a positive, meaningful connection" between Montreal's black community and Concordia.

It wouldn't have been possible, he added, if the participating professors had not accepted only modest honoraria or none at all. They were Professors Bakr Ibrahim (Associate Dean, Human Resources and Administrative Affairs), Robert Oppenheimer (Management), Tom O'Connell (Management), Bill Taylor (Management), Juan Segovia (Accountancy), Chris Ross (Marketing) and Bayne, who is also Director of the Minority Institute.

- BB

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