The Indiana Black Expo (IBE) has dedicated more than 50 years to helping business owners build management training, procurement opportunities and networking to enhance capacity and growth. Earlier this year, the KeyBank Foundation invested $300,000 in IBE to assist with the organization’s Black Business Training Institute.
Lakeshia Peterson, owner of Ooh La La’s Catering Services, was honored as the winner of the first cohort from the Black Business Training Institute. She was awarded $5,000 and recognized at an annual Mayor’s Breakfast in Indianapolis.
“Winning the first Indiana Black Expo Black Business Training Institute cohort has been an awesome experience for me. I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge that helped me to not only build a solid foundation for my business, but also allowed me to negotiate a contract as a traveling chef,” said Peterson. “It’s amazing to see the progress of where my business plan started to what it developed into. I actively applied what I learned each and every week and I asked a lot of questions.”
The award was given to the top business owner who excelled in the program and displayed perfect attendance.
“I’ve made some great business connections through IBE, due to my cohort win, and I look forward to developing those business relationships and serving my city in the near future,” Peterson added.
The goal of the 10-week Black Business Training Institute is to re-energize Central Indiana’s African American small business community by establishing more thriving businesses led by Black entrepreneurs. Doing so will increase the capacity of Black businesses to grow their workforce and strengthen existing minority small businesses. IBE plans to do this by:
- Strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem to encourage personal development and increase peer resources for Black business development
- Increasing the number of procurement opportunities for minority-led small businesses
- Increasing Indiana business owners’ access to the best available talent from the Black and minority community
To meet growing demand, IBE expanded its training institute program to assist additional business owners. The first cohort offered training to 120 seats, up from an original projection of 25 seats.
Training sessions for the second cohorts are set to begin in October for another 25 seats.