HBCU students help local minority-owned small businesses

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Saturday, January 21, 2023 2:28AM
HBCU students help local minority-owned small businesses
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NC State University teamed up with Lenovo to help connect HBCU students with small, minority-owned businesses across the state.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Minority-owned small businesses are getting a helping hand from business students.

NC State University teamed up with Lenovo to help connect HBCU students with small, minority-owned businesses across the state.

On Friday, the companies kicked off the collaborative that aims to give business owners tools to expand their brands.

Six-year-old Eden Byrd is the face and founder behind Eden Mo's Garden, an online business that sells natural beauty products from soap to lip balm to sugar scrub.

The business is less than a year old and Eden along with parents Ebany and Michael Byrd are running into challenges expanding the brand.

SEE ALSO: North Carolina Central University 1 of 3 HBCUs to receive funding after bomb threats

"The biggest challenge is marketing and knowing where to promote our business. Actually being able to get out and socialize," Ebany Byrd explained.

She explained a lack of in-person networking has slowed them down.

"They are not having a lot of social functions so with us starting out and learning our products and the market and what's in demand right now, we're trying to find our place and get our foot in so that has been a struggle," Ebany Byrd said.

To work to solve this, the Byrds were one of four businesses selected to partner with students across the state.

"We are excited about the opportunity to learn something new. We don't know anything about marketing, again this is less than a year old for us so we are like brand spanking new," Ebany Byrd said.

Over the next semester, the Byrds will work with senior Winston Salem, Shanice Dansby.

Dansby explained she will help them analyze the data analytics from their online store to help strategize how they can get more clicks and returning customers.

The partnership will help grow the Byrds' business but also give Dansby real-world experience to give her a leg up when she graduates.

"I just want to learn the software more so that in the future when I do go into like consultancy after I graduate, I'll be able to help larger clients with their business and learning here is, you know, the jumping point for that," she explained.

The ability to specifically use her skills to assist a small minority-owned business is something Dansby is looking forward to.

"A lot of minority businesses don't get the attention they need," she said. "Being able to help a minority business and a young child, being a mom myself, it's really motivating to make sure they succeed."

Gerald Youngblood, the chief marketing officer for Lenovo North America, said he is excited about this partnership.

"We provide a platform for them to be able to come together to solve real business problems and for students to learn about entrepreneurship while supporting local small businesses," he said.

Youngblood also emphasized the collaboration aims to increase access to resources specifically for small and minority-owned businesses so that can create more innovative products and ideas.

"Without the support, it would just be that much harder," Youngblood said. "We want to bridge that gap so that these business owners can focus on their companies, their products and their businesses, and not have to struggle as much with technology or with analytics or with other skills that that we can support and get them there to grow their business even faster."

Friday's workshop was part of Lenovo's larger initiative, Evolve Small, which aims to aid and foster small businesses across the country.