Minority Business Enterprises adapts, thrives in 12th year

October 28, 2020
The Minority Business Enterprises program with Executive Education is helping business owners thrive despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minority Business Enterprises program with Executive Education is helping business owners thrive despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty adapted the program to a virtual, extended format to ensure all the participants would receive individual coaching from Robins School experts.

“I wanted to take the opportunity to strengthen our business fundamentals,” said Terence C. Morrison, owner of Acropolis EPC, a system integration and engineering firm based in Raleigh, N.C. “We were not immune to the impacts of COVID-19. Our overall company billability went from 80% to 0% in the span of one month. Our clients closed their doors to vendors as they were dealing with the pandemic.”

But, he says with the help of this program, his firm is thriving. 

“The strategic planning sessions have been very helpful in the planning of opening a new office,” Morrison said. “I have also enjoyed speaking with other business owners and receiving feedback from the instructors in real time. We have recovered in the past few months and are back to having our best year yet.”

The participants meet as a group once or twice a week throughout the fall semester to discuss challenges they are facing in their own businesses, and to hear presentations from Robins School professors. From September through mid-November, the students learn about various topics including communication styles, strategic planning, financial acumen, data analytics, marketing, and negotiations.

Carol Reese, CEO and business strategist of ReeSources Inc., says she has benefited most from the one-on-one coaching from Richmond faculty, including Moira Lethbridge, Bob Piazza, Jan Nelson, Joel Mier, and Jeff Carlson.

“My experience with my coach, Moira Lethbridge, has been awesome,” Reese said. “She listened as I ran down a litany of things I was not doing and needed to do. She helped me identify what was important now, schedule these activities, and complete them in a timely manner. She is a great accountability partner.”

In its 12th year, the Robins School partners with the Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council (CVMSDC) for the program. The CVMSDC’s mission is to expand business opportunities for Minority Business Enterprises and to create mutually beneficial links between corporate members and MBEs. The ultimate objective is to add economic value to the supply chain while increasing economic opportunities for the minority business community. 

“The graduate and executive education offerings at the Robins School of Business have a long-standing goal of serving the business community in Virginia and the Carolinas,” said Rich Boulger, Robins School’s associate dean of graduate and executive education programs

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, minority-owned small businesses have been hit disproportionately hard due to the pandemic and corresponding economic crisis. Minority-owned business owners are more likely than non-minority owners to report difficulty obtaining loans, express fears about permanently closing, and predict declining revenues in the coming year.

Which is why this program is crucial to their success and survival, Boulger said.

“The Minority Business Enterprise program is intended to have both short term and lasting value. The ultimate goal is for all to be able to build life-long business relationships,” Boulger said. “The Robins School is privileged to play a role in this important outcome.”    

“This program is beneficial for any business owner that is ready to make a change, move to the next level, or expand their footprint,” Reese shared. “The professors, speakers, and hosts are very well informed, patient, and encouraging.”

For more information about upcoming Executive Education programs, click here. To find out more about CVMSDC and Minority Business Enterprises, click here.