Small Business Fair connects students, local businesses | News

Small Business Fair connects students, local businesses | News

Consult Your Community at NC State hosted its second annual Small Business Fair at Stafford Commons, bringing awareness to 32 local small businesses on April 9 by selling their business products and tabling under tents. 

There was a wide range of small businesses represented, most offering handmade goods such as upcycled clothing and jewelry. Others included a painting business, a candle business and a bicycle rental company.  

Iustina Banerji, a fourth-year studying chemical engineering and director of growth at CYC at NC State organized the event. Banerji said CYC prepared trivia to encourage students and small business owners to converse.

“Our goal of the event is obviously to have interaction between students and businesses and to forge meaningful conversations, not just walking around and buying things,” Banerji said. “We want to build a community.”

Banerji said Consult Your Community is a national organization that provides pro bono business consulting to local small businesses, with a focus on minority and women-owned businesses. 

The organization works on semester-long engagements with small local businesses, providing services that range from pricing to supply chain management. 

Some of the businesses CYC has consulted with in the past were at the Small Business Fair, including Needle & Thread Co., a custom apparel company founded by Derrick Grant.

Grant said he used CYC’s services for two semesters.

“They kind of helped me get my staff and get my interns,” Grant said. “Right now, I have five interns that work for me. So they spearheaded that. They helped me with my website. They helped me with promotions.”

Banerji said CYC received $5,000 in funding for the Small Business Fair from the City of Raleigh and $500 from both PNC Bank and NC State Innovation and Entrepreneurship, who also tabled at the event. 

Margaret Huffman, a marketing and communications coordinator at NC State Entrepreneurship, represented NC State Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the event.

Huffman said NC State Entrepreneurship helps students launch their businesses through their prototyping space,  incubator program and acceleration fund. They also organize a trip to Silicon Valley and host programming for the Albright Entrepreneurs Village.

“We want more students to join us and understand that they have the power to be an entrepreneur, all the resources are at their fingertips,” Huffman said. “If they want to be at the Small Business Career Fair next year with a booth, we can make it happen if they have the excitement and the energy and the passion.”

Lyric Chassin, a third-year studying communication, exhibited at the Small Business Fair. She started her jewelry business with the help of another initiative, Student-Made NC State. Chassin said the event helped connect her to other experienced small business owners.

“It’s a really great opportunity to meet other creators and learn more about what it’s like to run a small business,” Chassin said. 

Banerji said she hopes this year’s Small Business Fair can be used as a catalyst for CYC events in the future. 

“This is another initiative that we could take and kind of make something that happens at every chapter of CYC in the future,” Banerji said. 

This view is shared by Kiron Chandy, CEO of the national CYC, who co-founded the organization in 2013.

Chandy said she wanted to honor the CYC team at NC State by making a surprise visit to this Small Business Fair. 

“It’s just kind of a testament to their hustle, their grit, their commitment to the community,” Chandy said.

Originally Appeared Here