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Published:  Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The March Revive Black Business Summit was one of the best yet.  The speakers were all outstanding with inspiring and instructional presentations.

Over 100 Black business owners, entrepreneurs and support organizations have participated with the Revive Black Business Summits in 2022.

The theme to start the year has been all about creating a strong foundation for your business and getting connected with resources – including funding.

The first summit of the year in January provided a comprehensive perspective and included some of Omaha’s most successful Black business owners, entrepreneurs and dozens of support organizations.

The second summit zeroed in on credit, banking, investing and wealth building.

The third summit held on Saturday, March 26th focused on creating and building business plans, financial projections, using data and market research to grow your business, insurance options for business owners, and identifying and selecting the right attorney.

Deborah Dogba, founder and CEO of Business Seals, is a local expert on business plans, operations and launching businesses.   She provided an excellent overview of strong business plans and financials.

“Business plans aren’t just for new businesses or preparing to go to see a banker,” said Dogba.  “You should revisit and update your plan frequently.”

She added, “Your financial projections tell the bank whether or not you are worth the risk of investment.  They want to know will they get their money back?”

“As a business owner, you must have your balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statements on hand and ready.”

Raheem Sanders, “The Innovation Man” founder and owner of PPRP Innovations, delivered a powerful piece as he shared valuable insights that he tagged as Move, Do, Act and Costs.

“It’s not just about the numbers, what is the data telling us and are we looking at the right data,” said Sanders.  “These levers will help you grow your business.  Are we moving people to act, and do we know the costs?”

“Conversion rates help you understand how to get potential customers to move, do and act; and the lower the conversion rate, the more profitable your business becomes.”

Shawntal Mallory, consultant and executive Director of the Nebraska Legal Diversity Council, captured the groups attention with key elements to consider when selecting an attorney for your business.

“Be prepared, do your research, take advantage of the free consult, and make sure the relationship is a good fit,” said Mallory.

She added a bonus, “Don’t forget you can always fire your attorney if it’s not working for you.”

Cort Bonner, business owner and longtime State Farm Agent, closed out the presentations with some key insights regarding insurance.

Bonner said that when he speaks with clients, he breaks down his recommendation into three areas:  Property.  Protection.  People.

It was clear that his passion is making sure that business owners and all individuals have life insurance policies.

“It’s unfortunate that in too many cases, after a love one dies in our community, I’m not writing a check to their families from their insurance coverage, but a check to make a contribution or buying a dinner at church to help them bury their loved one,” said Bonner.

“We need to make sure our families have life insurance, and you as a business owner must have insurance to make sure your family receives the benefit.”

Dr. George Fraser provided the icing on the cake by reinforcing key elements for entrepreneurial success.  He closed out the event with a consistent message.

“If you don’t have a system, you don’t have a business,” said Fraser.  “And, you don’t build a business, people build the business. Your job as the leader is to build the people.”

His message connected directly to the purpose of the event.

Willie Barney, co-founder of the Revive Black Business Network along with his wife, Yolanda, added:  “The Revive Black Business Summits and Network are focused on building strong leaders, that build strong people, that build strong businesses and communities.”

Learn more about the Revive Black Business Network, here.

Community Features

1,200+ attend Rebuilding the Village Conference featuring Eric Thomas

OMAHA, Neb. – June 11, 2024 – On Friday, June 7, more than 1,200 attendees walked through the doors of  the CHI Health Center Omaha & Hilton Omaha Downtown to listen to captivating speakers during the 17th Annual Rebuilding the Village Conference and Luncheon. Hosted by the Empowerment Network, the event also featured the Revive Omaha Black Business Expo, as well as a powerful and energizing speech delivered by keynote speaker Eric Thomas, Ph.D., a New York Times best-selling author, educator and motivational guru.

“Think Big and Take Action! The Rebuilding the Village Conference was a tremendous success, bringing together local and national leaders, visionaries and community members who are committed to making a tangible difference,” said Willie Barney, CEO and founder, Empowerment Network. “We were able to convene over 1,200 participants including 600 youth from our Step-Up Omaha program.  This conference is more than an event; it’s a movement that empowers teamwork to revitalize our communities. Together, we are forging a path towards sustainable growth and collective prosperity.”

Timothy Christian, Board Chair, Empowerment Network and CEO Night Fox Entertainment, Eric Thomas ET and Willie Barney, CEO and Founder, Empowerment Network.  Photo Credit Nehemiah Barney

The Rebuilding the Village Conference and Luncheon brought together community leaders, activists, entrepreneurs and stakeholders to address critical issues facing underserved communities. With a strong focus on professional and community development, this year’s conference was centered around career advancement, DEI, entrepreneurship, leadership development and wealth building. Sessions were designed to enhance collaboration and strengthen the economic impact in Omaha and beyond.

As keynote speaker, Thomas talked about the importance of inclusive leadership strategies, purpose with emphasis on working collectively. “As a leader, you have to stop ambushing, as a leader, you have to stop doing the one-on-one, as the leader, you have to stop being in isolation,” said Thomas. “You’ve got to understand why [purpose] is so significant; it’s so significant because whoever you are, whatever assignment you’re on, you have to fulfill that assignment.  You are better when you move together.”

Supported in part by the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a program of The Obama Foundation, the Empowerment Network is dedicated to building safe and thriving communities through economic, educational and social success. Programs like Omaha 360 and Step-Up Omaha exemplify these efforts. My Brother’s Keeper Alliance promotes supportive communities for boys and young men of color, ensuring they feel valued and have clear pathways to opportunity.

With representation from New Orleans, Kansas City, Lansing, Tulsa, Pittsburgh, Memphis, St. Louis and other national cities, attendees came far and wide to network, build community and grow professionally and personally during this year’s conference.

This year’s agenda also included special sessions just for Step-Up youth which aligns with the mission of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.  Breakout sessions focused on driving change, community investment and connecting students with their gifts and strengths.

“There’s always more work ahead, but we have seen a measurable impact through our collective work and collaboration with hundreds of organizations and the engagement of thousands,” said Barney. “Step-Up students are graduating from high school, going to college and entering the workforce.  Graduates of Legacy Wealth are buying homes, launching and scaling businesses, saving and investing.  Alumni of Redefine the Game are receiving promotions, advancing their careers and moving into leadership. We are launching the next round of these cohorts and two others focused on fund development and leadership.”

In the coming months, the Empowerment Network is working with partners to launch the next phase of transformation this summer – pathway to careers, wealth and ownership. Additional growth opportunities including:

  • Connecting 200 more youth per year to the Step-Up youth employment and entrepreneurship programs, to grow to 1,000 students per summer within three years
  • Expanding STEAM programming including drones, robotics, music production, entrepreneurship and culinary.
  • Launching Skill Up! and EmPower Up! for hundreds of North Omaha adult residents to increase wages by providing wrap around and certified educational services
  • Investing in small businesses, entrepreneurship, tourism and job creation
  • Expanding efforts to reduce gun violence by an additional 50%
  • Assisting 250 organizations, small businesses, neighborhoods and churches with capacity-building

As an effort to invest back into Omaha’s Black-owned businesses, the conference featured entrepreneurs during the Black Business Expo, in addition to three breakout sessions specifically for small business owners.

More than 20 panel discussions and interactive workshops led by industry experts and community leaders were also held.

“We greatly appreciate all the attendees, sponsors, speakers, volunteers and all engaged.  We encourage you to support small businesses and stay engaged,” said Barney.

To learn more about the Rebuilding the Village Conference visit To stay connected with the Empowerment Network and learn about upcoming events, visit Follow Empowerment Network on Facebook at


About the Empowerment Network

The Empowerment Network is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing economic, social, and civic progress within Omaha’s African American community, North Omaha and the region. Through collaborative efforts and innovative initiatives, the Empowerment Network strives to create opportunities for empowerment and transformation in every zip code and neighborhood in Omaha and beyond.


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Community Features

2024 Revive Omaha Black Business Guide

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Community Features

New cohorts prepare to launch…Leadership, Fund Development, Wealth Building & Career Advancement


Great News!  After announcing four cohorts late last year, the Empowerment Network decided to delay the launch of the initiatives as they ran into the holiday season, received formal notice of their award of $10 million through the North and South Omaha Recovery Plan and continued the national collaboration with their partner cities introduced at last year’s African-American Leadership Summit.

The Network is now prepared to move forward with the four capacity-building cohort opportunities with their national strategic partners and advisors Dr. Pamela Jolly, Dr. Randal Pinkett, Dr. Jeffery Robinson, Suzan Hart and Anna Barber.

Keys to Fund Development to Make Your Vision a Reality & Intro to Cohort

Anna Barber, fundraising expert that has helped to raise hundreds of millions of dollars including for the Smithsonian’s National Black History Museum in Washington D.C., will lead a six-month cohort on Fund Development:  building a donor base to make your vision a reality.

Barber will share insights gained through her work with major universities, the Museum, Obama Foundation and other national clients.  Participants will develop a comprehensive step by step plan to build and maintain a strong, diversified donor base.

Complete this form to express interest in the Fund Development Cohort with Anna Barber.


Collaborative, Transformation Leadership and Powerful Storytelling & Intro to Cohort

Suzan Hart, one of world’s top storytellers and presenters, will launch a Collaborative Leadership and Storytelling cohort:  Maximize Opportunities with the Power of Your Story.

Participants will learn more about the transformational power of collaboration and enhance their presentation skills by defining purpose, understanding their value, and releasing the power of their story.

Complete this form to express interest in the Transformational Leadership and Storytelling Cohort with Suzan Hart.


Advancing Your Career with Key Principles from Redefine the Game & Intro to Cohort

Dr. Jefferey Robinson of BCT Partners will return to Omaha to help launch the 5th Cohort of the Redefine the Game Institute, an innovative career advancement and leadership development program. Over 150 have participated with most receiving promotions and increased compensation, expanded career opportunities or leadership positions within new organizations.

Complete this form to express interest in the Redefine the Game Institute cohort with Dr. Randal Pinkett and Dr. Jeffrey Robinson.


Understanding Your Wealth Building Code and Developing Your Plan & Intro to Cohort

Dr. Pamela Jolly a nationally recognized wealth-building strategist returns to launch the third cohort of the Legacy Wealth Initiative.  Graduates of Legacy Wealth have developed wealth plans, saved thousands of dollars, become homeowners, launched and purchased businesses, invested individually and collectively and made contributions to their community.

Complete this form to express interest in the Legacy Wealth Cohort with Dr. Pamela Jolly.


Stay connected to the Empowerment Network website for the next steps.   

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