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SWIM WITH THE SHARKS AT BLACK ENTER...

ABC hit show Shark Tank will hold open casting calls as hundreds of entrepreneurs, business experts and aspiring business owners gather at the 2014 Bl...

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SWIM WITH THE SHARKS AT BLACK ENTERPRISE ENTREPRENEURS CONFERENCE IN COLUMBUS, OH MAY 14-17

ABC hit show Shark Tank will hold open casting calls as hundreds of entrepreneurs, business experts ...

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SWIM WITH THE SHARKS AT BLACK ENTERPRISE ENTREPRENEURS CONFERENCE IN COLUMBUS, OH MAY 14-17

daymond-johnson-shark-tankABC hit show Shark Tank will hold open casting calls as hundreds of entrepreneurs, business experts and aspiring business owners gather at the 2014 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo

New York, NY) March 18, 2014— Join the Small Business Revolution as BLACK ENTERPRISE holds its 2014 Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by Nationwide Insurance on Wednesday, May 14 through Saturday, May 17, at the Hyatt Regency Columbus in Columbus, Ohio, with a powerhouse line-up of some of the nation’s most accomplished and celebrated entrepreneurs.

The Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo, which annually brings together hundreds of the country’s leading entrepreneurs and corporate executives, is designed to provide attendees with the newest and most innovative strategies from today’s top business minds and provide high-powered networking opportunities critical to their efforts to take their businesses to the next level, from successful launch to growth and profitability.

The producers of the ABC reality series Shark Tank will be holding open casting during the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo in their search to discover the next successful enterprise. Entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators will have a shot at pitching their ideas for a coveted spot on the show.

Shark Tank is looking for entrepreneurs who can pitch their breakthrough business concepts, products, properties and services to moguls in hopes of landing investment funds. If selected, five self-made, brilliant but tough investors (the Sharks) could be willing to part with their own hard-earned cash to give budding entrepreneurs the seed money they need to jumpstart their ventures.

“Shark Tank is intentional about its diversity and inclusion outreach initiative to provide more minorities, women and high tech entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch on the show. Given that less than 1% percent of all private equity in America is invested in black owned companies each year, Shark Tank is doing its part to reduce this access to capital gap amongst underserved and underrepresented communities. Seeing minorities pitch and get funded on Shark Tank furthers the conversation and engages the culture on the importance of angel investing in startups to create jobs, reduce poverty and close the wealth gap amongst people of color,” says Rodney Sampson, an Angel Investor, Founder of Opportunity Hub and Executive In Charge of Diversity & Inclusion, One Three Media/Mark Burnett Productions (Producers of The Voice, Shark Tank, Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, The Bible Series, and Son of God).

During the Shark Tank audition, you will be given the opportunity to do a 1-minute pitch of your business/product/idea to a member of the Casting Team — just like you would as if you were on the show. Come prepared to wow and dazzle the judges. Only the first 500 applicants are guaranteed to be seen so arrive early to secure your numbered wristband. To apply at the Open Call you must have a completed Application Packet. Download the Application HERE and bring it with you to the Open Call. It is imperative that you complete your Application prior to the Open Call.

The 2014 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo boasts high-powered sessions on critical business topics such as Winning Corporate Clients, Finding Angel Investors, Social Media Marketing, Franchising, Doing Business in Africa, Business Coaching, Generating Cash for your  Start-up, Using Mobile Marketing, Using Search Engine Optimization to Sell Your Goods and How to do Business with the Government.

For more than 40 years, BLACK ENTERPRISE has served as the unprecedented leader in black business development. This year’s Entrepreneurs Conference boasts high-powered speakers, including entertainment media mogul T.D. Jakes, CEO of TDJ Enterprises and Valerie Daniels Carter, president and CEO of V&J Holding, one of the largest women- and African American-owned restaurant franchise operators in the US. The Small Business Success™ Bootcamp offers practical advice on how to grow your business and take it to the next level. Plus, the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition will award $10,000 for the best new business idea and the Teenpreneur program will teach business fundamentals to youths, ages 13-17.

For updates, follow BLACK ENTERPRISE Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo page on Facebook and search the #BEEC2014 hash tag on Twitter.

AKON BRINGS ELECTRICTY TO AFRICA

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Electricity powers not only business growth but also lights the minds of young people –helping them to learn when they plug in their computers and other essential technological tools.

R&B star Akon recognizes that in many parts of Africa business expansion is not possible and children’s education stifled because there is no ability to get electricity.  “They’re using kerosene and candles after dark,” he said when talking about his effort to drastically change their plight.

The five-time Grammy nominated artist has launched “Akon Lighting Africa,” a partnership to bring electricity to one million households in Africa by the end of 2014.  “We’re already close (providing electricity) to 200,000 and the movement has just started,” Akon said in an exclusive interview.

He likened “Akon Lighting Africa” to a movement – one that he is encouraging his friends, celebrities, businessmen and others to join.  “In America sometimes,” Akon maintained “the concept of having that opportunity to be able to go back to Africa and invest and be a part of Africa’s growth has been really kind of quiet. This is a way to open everyone’s eyes to do it. I’m utilizing this opportunity and I’m promoting it like I would promote my album or record or anything of that nature.”  Statistics show that more than two-thirds of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is without electricity and more than 85 percent of those living in rural areas lack access.

The “Right Now” singer is part of a partnership with GIVE1 PROJECT and Solektra International, a member of ADS Group (Africa Development Solutions Group.)  He went on a nine day tour of nine African nations, including Mali, Gabon, Congo and Senegal the country where he was raised – talking passionately aboutthevisit, “We went to the countries that actually needed the electricity in the rural areas that was like desperately in need.”

While in the countries he met with a number of people, including the presidents of those nations.  Akon and his partners have worked out a plan for the financially underdeveloped nations and the people living there to be able to afford the electricity. They’ve entered into an agreement with a company in China that manufactures solar panels.  “We created a system to where we could do a pre-paid system and the countries can do yearly payments until they pay off the debt,” he said.  He revealed they’ve gotten offers from officials in 10 other African countries that don’t have a highly developed economy to start tours the end of April. He says they too have expressed a willingness to be a part of the electricity initiative.

Given the name Aliaune Badara Akon Thiam when he was born in St. Louis, Missouri, he spent the first seven years of his life living in Dakar, Senegal– then spent time going between Senegal and the U.S. until he was 15. At15 he permanently moved to the U.S. where he resided in New Jersey.  Music is in Akon’s blood. His father is the renowned Senegalese percussionist Mor Thiam.

Akon is excited about his new album entitled “Stadium” saying, “I’m more excited about this record than I’ve been around any of my records.”  It is long overdue, he says, because he had hoped to have it out in 2010 during the World Cup.  However, he’s glad there was a delay admitting, “As I’m becoming a better person my music is also feeling like it’s worth being out in the marketplace.”

Look for a tribute song to the late South African President Nelson Mandela to be released from “Stadium” later this month.  But he did not give a release date for the entire album.  Akon also teamed up with Lady Gaga’s former choreographer, once known as Laurieann Gibson, now called Harlee.  He’s on the pop singer’s new single, “Dream Warriors.”

To learn more about the “Akon Lighting Africa” initiative you can visit www.akonlightingafrica.com.

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