The Emerging Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) Program is not for the faint at heart.  Sponsored by Metlife, the National Minority Supplier Development Council, McPherson Berry, and Artech, the EYE program is designed to connect young entrepreneurs with opportunities resulting in personal and business growth.

Being selected for the inaugural program, and I wanted to give my thoughts on EYE so far.

To begin, the program is a bit of a commitment.  I emphasize “a bit” because you will have to reminder yourself to stay up to date with tasks on a weekly basis.  Please keep in mind that its for a good cause.  The purpose of the multiple surveys and hour long meetings, is to tailor the program for you and your business.  The more you put in, the more you will get out.  After a month or so of business review, the program officially began at the NMSDC Conference, a 4 day event connecting minority owned businesses with Fortune 1000 corporations.

Ok…time to be a bit honest now….when arriving in Chicago…..I wasn’t expecting much.  I didn’t think it would be a waste of my time, but I’ve learned not to expect much when participating in business development programs.  The EYE program is an exception!!!, It focuses on bringing together a target market of minority entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses.  The ages of entrepreneurs ranged from 24 to 32, with each running their business for at least a year or two.  Every entrepreneur was ready to connect with corporations in some facet, with a few companies, like myself, already doing business with Fortune 1000 organizations.  

The program itself included workshops, training, and business development sessions for its participants.  Although I won’t go too in depth on it, I do want to point out that each session was amazing.  Whether having the ability to ask questions to top Purchasing Officers, or learning about business growth from successful minority owned firms, the EYE program delivered.

In addition to the workshop sessions, entrepreneurs were allowed to attend the NMSDC trade fair, the largest fair for minority owned businesses in the world.  Thousands of corporate buyers attend the event looking to connect with minority firms throughout the nation.  The opportunity was fantastic and lets you meet companies you may not otherwise get to. 

Another opportunity provided by the program was the Business Pitch Competition (BPC).  The BPC let participants explain their business to corporate representatives with winners receiving business related prizes.  Corporations actually work with you on your pitches before the competition begins, which was a fantastic bonus.

The inaugural EYE program is helping minority led organizations grow their business.  Although still new, the program has already helped my business connect with organizations I would never have been able to.  

For me, the hidden gem in the entire process is the entrepreneurs themselves.  Each and every one is committed to not only improving their lives but the lives of those around them.  

Building wealth within the minority community is a challenge but we understand that it can change with support from fellow entrepreneurs like ourselves.  History cannot continue to repeat itself.

I’d like to thank McPherson Berry, Metlife, the NMSDC, and Artech for the opportunity to be a part of such a life changing experience.  I may belong to the first ever EYE Program but I am positive it will not be the last.

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