Brooklyn/Ghana Trade Mission Plans Announced
Remarks of Randy Peers,
When I first came back to the Brooklyn Chamber last September, one of the things I said was that we needed to get back to “being a Chamber again.” What I meant by that was, we needed to go back to our core mission of Promotion, Support & Advocacy. Of course, the organization had gone through a few years of continual leadership transition, which had taken a toll on membership and private-sector investment. But I remember attending my first MWBE committee meeting a few weeks after I arrived – a room filled with over 40 members assembled to hear Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte present. I was literally blown away by the engagement level and I remember leaving that meeting feeling a sense of optimism and enthusiasm.
Many in that room, Penda Aiken for example, had stuck with the Chamber through thick and thin, and I pledged that day I would be there for our MWBEs the way they were there for the Chamber. Shortly thereafter we began to map out a strategy for reimagining comprehensive support for the MWBE businesses. An easy first step was to bring back the Black History Month event – always an important event for the BCC – but elevate the event to “Signature” status making it a bigger and better event going forward. And I think it’s clear, we accomplished that tonight!
But beyond that, I want everyone in this room to know that we have several other things in the works to reimagine MWBE engagement – MWBE 2.0 as I like to call it. Beyond certification and government contracting, our focus under 2.0 will shift to facilitating private sector to private sector procurement opportunities. For example, large private hospitals, colleges, universities and large commercial development centers should be procuring goods and services locally and sourcing MWBE firms. The Chamber should serve as the clearinghouse for these opportunities. And now with the addition of the Brooklyn App, we have a digital platform that can deliver this information in “real-time” and connect buyers to local companies for procurement.
We also recently announced and will do so more publicly at a Press Conference on February 11th, that the Chamber’s CDFI, Brooklyn Alliance Capital, was awarded a US Treasury grant in the amount of $125K to jumpstart our micro-lending program. Make no mistake, our loan program will focus on Brooklyn-based small businesses who can’t easily access commercial lending programs – the majority of which will be MWBE firms! Bridge loans, lines of credit and micro-loans from $500 to $25,000.
Lastly, I want to tell you a story about another profound event that occurred since I came back. Last November, we had the pleasure of hosting the President of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry and his delegation. Nana Dr. Appiagyei Dankawusu, who is also a regional tribal chief, spoke so passionately about the potential for Brooklyn and Ghana to come together around commerce, and he and immediately began planning for next steps. So, God (and the State Department willing), we are looking to coordinate a trade mission to Ghana this Fall and bring along Chamber members looking to do business in West Africa!
So tonight, we celebrated amazing leaders who have given so much to Brooklyn and to the business community. Leaders who represent the diversity within the African and Caribbean-American communities. Leaders who represent the greatness of our past, and the potential of our future. I am honored and humbled to be within their presence, and I pledge to them, and to you, that the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce will do more than ever before to support the growth and success of our MWBE businesses today, tomorrow, and for years to come.
Thank you all for being here and may God continue to bless you!
Remarks of Obocho Peters
Good Evening Everyone! I first want to say Happy Black History Month. It is an honor to be a part of tonight’s event. Congratulations to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and all the honorees.
My name is Obocho Peters. I am an 11-year old CEO from Brooklyn. On April 27th, 2018, the movie Avenger Infinity War came out and I wanted eight toys, but my mom just couldn’t afford it after paying all the bills. On that day, I had a dream to sell all the clothes and shoes that didn’t fit me, to raise the money to get the toys without my mom’s money, but with her help. What started off as wanting eight toys as a kid, quickly changed into a NEED for helping my community.
Today I am the CEO of I Am Obocho LLC, and recently opened a brick-and-mortar store called Obocho’s Closet, selling new and gently-used clothes size 0-20 at no more than $10 to help families save money for their children’s college fund. A portion of the profits goes back into the community with Free Financial Literacy seminars. It is a challenging business model to be a for-profit business with a mission usually associated with a non-profit organization.
With my mom as my foundation, I am very dedicated and want to serve as a positive role model helping families to be financially free. But we cannot do this alone. With the services and resources of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to help entrepreneurs like myself to grow my business, I see a brighter future and my dream coming true to help all families be financially free.
My name is Obocho Peters. I am your future advocate for children. Thank you and have a wonderful evening!