EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Friday marks the start of Black History Month and SIUE is kicking things off with a Black Business Expo.
Forty-four vendors representing black-owned businesses came to show off their merchandise and services. SIUE's Campus Activities Board and Black Student Union are coming together to support black business.
“College is definitely the place where you get that experience and you learn from your surroundings,” says Amelia Williams, Black Heritage Month chair.
The Black Business Expo is also a chance for students to network with entrepreneurs on campus.
“I think more so now than ever it’s kind of hard to be an African-American and especially in a predominantly white institution and town. This allows people to see people like them own businesses, operate their own businesses and also support black businesses,” says Kimberly Pope, a graduate assistant working on Black History Month.
For some students who are already making big plans for their future, it’s a chance to meet mentors who’ve overcome similar challenges.
“My ultimate goal is to open up a woman and kids shelter. I’ll have my own LLC entitled WTE, Working Towards Excellence, and that’s why I came to see these people thriving,” explains student Derrick Miles.
This event has even motivated some students to take steps toward entrepreneurship while still in school.
“I think it’s really cool for them to come one year and purchased from different businesses. Then they say, ‘Hey, I can do this!’ and they put up their own tables. We have about 10 students here setting up tables. They’re out here and they’re ready to start their journeys,” says Pope.
Organizers say this is the third year in a row they’ve held this event and this is the best turn out they’ve had yet.