On Wednesday, June 28th, Dr. Oye Owolewa, the US Representative for DC, hosted the “DC’s Capital Seminar: All About the CBE,” an event dedicated to educating small minority businesses about becoming CBEs (Certified Business Enterprises). The event took place at DC Capitol Square Bar & Grill, an event sponsor and a black-owned restaurant known for its mix of African and Caribbean cuisine.
The seminar had a long list of other sponsors including TANTV, DC’s Department of Small & Local Business Development (DSLBD), and The Wealth Syndicate. Leadership at these organizations spoke at the seminar.
TANTV CEO, Adedayo Fashanu, moderated the panel which included Melissa Resil, a Business Certification Manager for the DSLBD, Keith Howard, the Manager of the DSLBD’s Business Opportunities Team, and DeWayne Ellis, founder of The Wealth Syndicate, a financial advising company.
A CBE is a certification that gives businesses higher consideration when it comes to government contracting opportunities provided by DC. Howard and Resill walked the guests through the criteria and process of receiving one. Some of the criteria include the business being physically based in DC and having more than 50% of the employees living in DC. Prior to the panel, Resill and Howard went through informative slides with links and charts about CBEs.
Resill and Howard emphasized how valuable the CBE is and how the DSLBD is dedicated to providing assistance towards attaining one.
Resill said, “If you think you can meet the local tests, we’ll welcome you to submit an application. We have the resources to help you navigate the process. Just reach out to us. Don’t get dizzy and confused over all the requirements. It is really not that hard.”
Howard said, “It is a preference, and for those that say it’s not working, I can give you 1.2 billion reasons why it is.”
Resill had previously said that CBE’s help directs 1.2 billion dollars to small DC businesses each year.
DeWayne Ellis, who also counsels at Howard University’s small business development center, was able to vouch for the importance of CBEs and financial advising services like his own.
During his portion of the seminar, Ellis asked the guests, “How many people who have businesses actually have a business plan?”
Ellis emphasized that CBE’s don’t guarantee contracts. It is important to develop relationships, promote your business well, and have a solid business plan.
Owolewa, a second-generation Nigerian American, ended the night with words about the importance of events like these. Owolewa brought up that during his time as a US Representative, he has noticed that Republicans, who currently have power in Congress, have been passing bills that are bringing in more capital for small businesses.
“We have to arm ourselves with the opportunities of tomorrow. We have to be able to do well whether it’s a Democrat in office, whether a Republican’s in office, whether DC’s a state or not a state. We have to position ourselves to succeed, and this is the first step to do so,” said Owolewa.
With events like these, small business owners in DC will be able to elevate their businesses and communities through CBE opportunities.