First Annual Black Business Convention in Rochester

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester’s first annual Black Business Convention is held on Saturday, hosted by the Community Justice Initiative.

Event organizer Niya Shabazz said the convention’s main goal is to educate the youth population.

“We want these people, young adults and young children, to leave with tools to help them succeed from this event,” Shabazz said. “Tools that they can take and use it further in life.”

The tools offered at the various panels surround a range of topics, including cryptocurrencies, business planning and how to advertise.

Alongside colleagues, event organizer Devon Bey wants to create a resource — to help strengthen both the community and black businesses.  

“We want to educate and edify the business owners and potential business owners in Rochester,” Bey said. “So we can start having better business practices, as well as be more equipped and knowledgeable in what we’re doing.”

The convention’s organizer, Community Justice Initiative (CJI) was founded in May 2020. It was formed in response to a 10 year-old, Na’ilah El Bey, who was handcuffed by police.

CJI Member Diallo Payne said for the black community to be successful, people have to come together.  

“There must be unity first. That is a very cliché thing. But at the same time it’s critical, it’s important and we have to have it.” Payne said.

Devon Bey said he hopes to bring the community to a point, “where we’re able to unite the businesses, unite the communities, have one voice, be able to take the money that we have in our community and circulate it over and over and over again.”

Entrepreneur Gregory Bouie owns an online jewelry boutique, Aura Allure. He said the convention is a valuable opportunity for everyone.  

“It allows people to come out and show their talent, show their entrepreneurship and really learn,” Bouie said.

Similar to Bouie, entrepreneurs Jerell Singleton and Michael Poles also own a personal business — Mobile Oil Change (M.O.C.) Express LLC. They intend to build a system where customers can order an oil change to their location via an app similar to Uber.

Singleton said attending the convention contributes to their intent to give back.

“Our business plan and goals include creating jobs for everyone in the community,” Singleton said. “Especially the minority youth in the inner city to give them bigger and better opportunities that we where not permitted.”

Bey expects over 100 different businesses to attend. The convention will be held at the Maplewood YMCA from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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