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It’s been three years since the black Enterprise/Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge took its first baby steps. Now, the tournament is rushing to healthy maturity as the most influential national social gathering of black business professionals. With on-site coverage by the local television stations, print coverage by Golf Magazine, the New York Times and USA Today, and a total media audience of over 16 million impressions, the B.E./Pepsi Challenge has emerged as more than just a business event. Described by one participant as “a model for all meetings of this sort on a national level,” the tournament is quickly and actively transforming the face of the American business social scene, demonstrating that the African American business community is a force to be reckoned with.
The 1996 tournament took off on August 29 and didn’t slow its pace until its close on September 2. Members of the corporate world gathered with sports figures, entertainment celebrities and politicians to employ their savvy business networking skills and engage in some healthy recreational competition at The Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami.
Leaning on the tournament’s solid business-oriented foundation, the attendees were drawn together by the common cause of forging and strengthening profitable business relationships. For the participants of the B.E. Challenge, the phrase “it’s not what you know as much as who you know,” proffers a simple yet valuable pearl of wisdom: Networking is paramount to maintaining black enterprise, and expanding it into the business mainstream,
THE PREMIER NETWORKING OPPORTUNITY
With over 1,300 participants at this year’s event, the B.E. Challenge is now the premier meeting place for African American entrepreneurs and professionals. The Challenge reaches out to every region in the country, and attracts participants ranging in age from 28-60-plus. These are vital statistics for attendees like Louis Beauchamp, vice president the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Techtronix Technical Search, who says that African Americans “often don’t have the chance to associate on a wide scale. Here [at the Challenge], we have of the chance to really interact and exchange information with each other.
For many of the attendees, making contacts in a social environment is rare; these busy professionals simply don’t have the opportunity to get together outside of the boardroom.” Beauchamp notes that isolation is already common for many black corporate dwellers. “There are a lot of different fields that some of us don’t even know African Americans are in,” he says.
A three-time attendee, Beauchamp has been able to reap some of the benefits that exposure from the Challenge provides, describing his acquired contacts as “absolutely fantastic.”
“The Challenge has shown America that we are capable of generating a large number of bright, well-off, independent and professional businesspersons in one place,” says Beauchamp.
REACH OUT AND IMPACT SOMEONE
Long before last November’s presidential elections, the voice of the African American business world reverberated loudly on the American political scene. After learning of California Governor Pete Wilson’s politically motivated desire to do away with race-based affirmative action programs through the California Civil Rights Initiative, the 1996 Challenge coordinators moved the