Sabrina Madison’s innovative Black Women’s Leadership Conference earlier this spring was so successful and so interesting that people wanted more.
“After that conference, I would get numerous people asking me, ‘How can I reach the young lady who did this or said that?’ I had other women, presenters, and vendors asking me how we can continue to connect with each other,” Madison tells Madison365.
The first-ever Black Women’s Leadership Conference earlier this spring energized a large group of Madison-area black women to take charge of their lives. The impact of the event has been felt long after the conference ended. Madison, who goes by “Heymiss Progress,” was spending a lot of time fielding a ton of calls and receiving many messages and e-mails after that event so she thought: why not just create another event?
“It was really about wanting to create a space not only for people that wanted to meet each other but also a chance for people to come out and find out who are the members of their community and specifically focus on jobs,” says Madison, a well-known motivational speaker and social entrepreneur.
On Saturday, July 23, she will present the Black Business Expo at the Urban League of Greater Madison. There will be 43 different business, services, and organizations on display from noon-4 p.m. The Expo’s goal is to encourage the greater Madison community to support Black-owned businesses, clubs, organizations, and service providers as well as to create space for networking among Black business owners.
There will also be the opportunity to hear brief presentations from local business owners and network with local business leaders. The event will feature presentations by Lisa Peyton Caire of Black Women’s Wellness Day, comedian Antoine McNeail, author Damion Catledge, and artist Melana Bass.
“There aren’t many events where black businesses are THE highlight of the event like there will be on Saturday,” Madison says. “At the Black Business Expo, they will be the highlight of the event and this will be a great chance to come out and network with them.
“It’s hard enough to survive as a small business,” she adds. “It’s very hard to survive as a black small business so we have to be very conscious that we are doing everything we can to help these businesses survive.
The Expo will be a chance to connect with entrepreneurs, authors, brands, non-profits, organizations, and clubs all of whom are shaping Madison’s black business community.
“It’s really going to be just a great mix of people who will be out that day,” Madison says. “For the community, it’s a great chance to learn about and network with black businesses. For the owners, it’s also an opportunity for them to meet each other and to work on ways to collaborate.”
Madison, who was recently named one of Madison’s 15 most influential people in InBusiness Magazine, has been challenging community members to save $10 for 4 weeks leading up to the event in order to spend at least $40 during the event. “I put it out there mostly for folks on my e-mail list and listserve. I figured, why not? If you’re going to spend $40 anyways, why not save that $40 for the vendors at the event,” Madison says. “That would be awesome for our small businesses. If you’re going to buy some cookies, why not at the Expo?
“That’s how we create economic empowerment,” she adds. “We can talk as much as we want about spending money with minority businesses, but we have to actually do it. This will be a really easy way to do it, too.
Summit Credit Union is the main sponsors of the Black Business Expo and Madison365 is the media partner. “We’re excited to be partnering with Summit Credit Union,” Madison says. “They are the number-one small business loan lender here in our area. To have them at this event where folks can talk to them and interact with them is great.
“It was important for us to partner with Madison365, too, because it tells people that there is someone that cares about us and will be covering our stories,” she adds. “I always get the comment that nobody covers our stories and they aren’t interested in what we are doing. So, to have a media partner that reaches so far out to share our work … we love that.”
Madison stresses that the event is free and family-friendly. “We will have things for kids to do. It will be a fun event,” she says. “The bigger thing for me with this event is the long-term picture for the community when the holidays and birthdays roll around and for whatever home service or gift they need to get, that they think about this list [of black businesses]. Hopefully, they go to the people on the list first before they go to the greater community and spend money with a business that is not black-owned.
“And, importantly, they also refer other people to these businesses,” she adds.