Byron PerryThe harsh realities of an economy in recession are often what make people reevaluate their personal wealth and career. During the economic downturn of the 1990s, Byron W. Perry, a career counselor at the time, was forced to shift gears.

He had always possessed an entrepreneurial spirit and soon set the wheels in motion to
develop a business of his own. He honed his talent for public speaking and began to hold workshops in financial empowerment through entrepreneurship for displaced professionals. His firm, The Winner’s Group, has won accolades from adults who attend its workshops and even from the children who accompany them and pose their own  questions about building personal wealth.

A native of New Orleans who has lived in New York since the age of 2, Perry majored in business administration at Queensborough Community College in Bayside, New York. He has taken his message of financial empowerment into New York City’s public library system in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, and to churches, community centers and colleges. His “Campus C.E.O.” program, developed in 2006, teaches college students how to become successful entrepreneurs while in school, or those who already are in business how to improve their business.  “As African-Americans, we need to empower ourselves by becoming employers,” he says. “We need to explore the possibility of being an employer and creating jobs rather than simply being employed.”

A former journalist, Perry aggressively uses the print media to help spread his message. He developed a 15-part series for a column titled “Taking Charge, the Entrepreneur Life,” which has made it into the Daily Challenge, Queens Chronicles, Jamaica Times, New York Trend. The column covers such topics as choosing an appropriate business for your skill set, creative ways to build capital, forming a team of financial professionals, marketing and advertising and franchising as a business option. His Web site, www.thepowerofperry.com, carries an extensive list of his services, workshops and specific programs for targeted audiences.

Adults were Perry’s primary audience, but he also recognized that children were an important segment of the population as the future generation of entrepreneurs. He seized the opportunity to tap the potential of this underserved market with the creation of Kids Inc. Perry argues that it is not unusual for kids to own businesses of their own, be it babysitting, raking leaves, shoveling snow or selling cookies or candy. However, they need encouragement and direction when it comes to building capital, he says. “The goal of Kids Inc. is to groom and develop our youth, to make them self-reliant and empowered,” Perry says.

His 45-minute workshops teaches children between the ages of 8 and 14 entrepreneurial competencies and financial literacy. The youngsters are introduced to banking procedures and investment concepts.  “These are basic financial concepts that are not always taught or learned by African-American children,” Perry says. “As these children mature, I want them to be more financially independent.”

Knowledge and use of basic financial concepts, whether they are taught at an early or later age, is a precursor to the financial independence that will keep households afloat in this current recession, he insists. “The reality is that a lot of jobs are being eliminated and many people are looking for a second income. Sometimes having an entrepreneurial venture is a lifesaver,” he says.

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