Mayor’s small business conference lauded by small business owners

By , October 27, 2012 | 5:22 pm | 0 Comment

Mayor’s small business conference lauded by small business owners

ONUMBA.COM – It wasn’t the first time the city of Columbus has organized a city-wide clambake for small businesses, but it could be the finest and the biggest ever.

That was how a very satisfied Thomas H. Stephens, Assistant Director of the Mayor’s Equal Business Opportunity Office, described the 10th Mayor’s Small Business Conference & Expo that played out recently at the Hyatt at the Columbus Convention Center, Downtown. The theme of the gathering was “Go Forward: Driving Local Economic Growth through Small Business Inclusion and Sustainability.” 

“This is outstanding. People loved it,” said Stephens, adding, “It was more than what we planned it to be. This year’s conference was a full day, previous ones were half a day. We brought in national speakers. It’s been great,” he said.

Stephens told that the main reason for holding the gathering was “to help small businesses move forward, that was the whole key, providing access to capital” and “helping small businesses link up with large businesses, that’s the whole point, helping them move forward through these rough economic times.”

But it was also to introduce the city’s small business community to the process of securing contracts with the city, which according to Mayor Michael Coleman, summed up to“more than $300,000 in contracting opportunities” in 2011.

In his greetings, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman said that “Columbus is committed to providing education, support and opportunity to these businesses as they continue to enhance our city’s image as a great place to start and grow a business.”

The event was well attended. Actually, many who sought to register for the conference were unable to do so because registration was closed days before the event.  But for those who attended, it was all worth it.

“I think this has been a phenomenal event,” said Jessica Figgins, owner of Down Home Soul Catering. The conference, said Figgins, “has been an event where you feel comfortable coming in, small business or large business, you are not afraid to ask questions. They provided a lot of resources that I didn’t know were out there.”

Asked about the networking opportunities, Figgins replied: “It has been over the top. I got what I expected and more. So, I’m glad to be here.”

Luke Estice agreed.

“It’s really successful because I found a lot of different avenues that I can reach out to other businesses so I can expand my business,” said Estice, who owns two businesses, Luke’s Huy Road Barber, Beauty & Nail Shop and L&E Soul Food, along with a Food Truck.

“It’s really helpful,” he said.

Raymonia M. Lacy took the same view.

“It has been very helpful, the networking has been great,” said Lacy, who owns IJN Enterprises, LLC, a venture that is involved with business development and

Beside learning “a lot about how to maneuver through the city and the canals we should go through in order to obtain city contracts, Lacy said that she appreciated making connections with the city and other businesses.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: / Copyright 2012   The information contained in the news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group (OMG).


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Somali woman’s passion for media helps her community

By , March 29, 2011 | 6:49 am | 3 Comments

Somali woman’s passion for media helps her community

Basra Mohamed

ONUMBA.COM – Somali immigrant Basra Mohamed has a deep passion for her Somali community.  She is a part of it.  She often works with a host of Somali groups on community projects. And she has been involved in community work in one way or another since she moved to Columbus from Dallas in 2003.

So, why is Mohamed in the media business, and not a community organizer?

Because her other passion is the media.  She expressed the view that the media plays an important role in any community’s effort to thrive, be informed and be involved.

“I started this media service so I can help the community, because I see the need.  I see there’s no newspaper or radio or newsletter that they can read,” said Mohamed, in an interview with the Call & Post, last week.

But Mohamed isn’t really saying there’s no newspaper in Columbus.   There’s of course the Columbus Dispatch, and others.  What she meant was that most folks in her community don’t read the Dispatch largely because it doesn’t report the kind of news interested to them. 

“So I started these media services so that I can help the people, get them the information firsthand about what’s going on in their community,” said Mohamed.  She spoke about the ‘culture shock’ that often greets newly arrived Somalis overwhelmed by the process of adjusting to their new society. 

Somalis, understandably, are habitually preoccupied with the depressing and tormenting conflict ravaging their already battered homeland.  Of course, Mohamed is tormented by that, too.  But at the same time, she often reminds her fellow Somalis about the importance of being a part of their ‘second home’ that is now Columbus.

Mohamed’s panoply of media services operates under the umbrella moniker ‘Danjir,’ which means “looking after the community’s interest.”   It includes a radio program, a phone program, an online newspaper, and print media, Danjir News, which she closed down last year to focus more on the online news reporting.

So much of what Danjir Media Services is looking to accomplish is fueled by Mohamed’s belief that the Somali community being an integral part of this society ought to be more involved by accessing community resources to improve their families.

But to do that, she maintained that an effective media presence must be a part of the equation, to identify and funnel these resources to the community much more effectively. 

“They don’t even know the resources that are available to them for free,” said Mohamed, who also underscored the importance of educating community service providers to be more effective in providing culturally-sensitive services to the community. 

The seed of Mohamed’s mission was planted back in Dallas where she worked with Somali refugees and immigrants.  When she moved to Columbus, she saw “the same need here,” but expressed shock that there was no newspaper, no TV, no nothing” in terms of media services for the Somali community.

Yet, Columbus, with an estimated “45,000 Somalis,” is home to the second largest Somali community in the nation behind only Minneapolis. 

“Immediately that’s when I started Danjir” in 2004, incorporating a community radio program in 2007.

It wasn’t easy , she conceded, recalling that she and her partners paid for the first edition of ‘Danjir news’ newspaper out of their pocket.  It was bi-lingual, with stories reported in English and Somali. 

Danjir radio airs every Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m.

“We are excited,” said Mohamed, who said she models the pursuit of her passion for the media and community after successes in Minneapolis.

“I like us to be like the people in Minnesota,” where she said the Somali community has a flourishing media presence with newspapers, Radio and TV programs to keep the community plugged into the system.

Mohamed, who came to the United States in 1996, said that her ultimate goal is to establish a TV program for the Somali community in Central Ohio.  She would not say precisely when she plans to roll that out, but noted, “It’s in the works.”

Meanwhile, the conflict in Somalia, which started in 1991 after the ouster of strongman Siad Barre from power, continues to shred the country into rubbles of despair, and continues to displace many as refugees fleeing to Kenya, the United States and elsewhere. 

At the height of the conflict, a stampede of warlords scrimmaging for power littered the scene of a ruptured country carved up into hostile clan-based fiefdoms.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at:

Copyright 2011 The information contained in the news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group. 

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