African Small Business Expo: It’s All About The Students…and Entrepreneurship

By Dr. Juanita Bratcher
Author, Editor & Publisher, CopyLine Magazine

Little while ago, Andrea Graham was awarded the “Dr. Melida A. Harris Barrow Empowering Humanity Award” by Love Truth and Peace Global Initiative. She was the first Chicagoan ever to receive the Ambassador award. She is also known as a Goodwill Ambassador of the Golden Rule. Graham has been the recipient of several awards for her skills and activism helping students, and deservingly so. But to Graham, it’s all about the students and entrepreneurship, for them to own their own businesses. She sees that as a plus for them, and has taken a lead role in helping them to accomplish their goals at a young age.

On Friday, May 18, 2018, Graham’s International Youth Ambassadors Club, in conjunction with the Africa Global Chamber of Commerce AGCC, will host the African Small Business Expo at Sullivan High School, Chicago, 6631 N. Bosworth Ave., from 9 AM to 4 PM., with a networking session afterwards with businesses and students.

This year’s theme is: “Empowering Young Entrepreneurs and Connecting our Community.” The event is open to the general public and Federal, State, City of Chicago Agencies and businesses will attend.

Graham started working at Sullivan High School five years ago. She volunteered at the school prior to her employment there in a Title One position and was also the Parent Advisory Chain. At that time, her children were students at the school. The other parents voted her in as Chair. They had a budget. It was a project reauthorized by the Bush Administration and later the program was changed to “No Child Left Behind.”

Graham started the club because there were “many African Americans at the school.  Some had started a business at the school – Tye Dye African inspired shirts and they were fashion designers and some of their clothing were tied into American outfits.

The girls liked dancing “so I got costumes for them and they performed at the club and at our Expo last year. I wanted to introduce, expose, inspire and engage young people to the world of global trade, exporting and importing goods internationally.


I have a relationship with Dr. Melida Harris Barrow, who is also an author. She  is trying to help people and bridge the gap between companies and countries – South America, Central America, and Caribbean island. She is doing that by going to one of Panama City Panama, one of the largest places in that particular region – People from Peru, Ecuador and Argentina. She noticed that there were no African or Caribbean representation at Extocomer. It has been going on now for 37 years and Africans still have not made its presence there yet.

Graham said they will take a contingent of students to Panama City Panama/Extocomer and other places on March 25, 2019 and return on March 31.  The consulate of South Africa will give the keynote address to students, and businesses will be there to promote their businesses and students.

“It is open to the public and vendors can pay a small fee if they’d like to participate. It will help to raise money for students who will make the trip in March. We also have a few pledges of support that will help pay for students’ trip. A Chicago TV personality has pledged $2,000 and Copa Airlines will work a package out for them and will also bring some Panamanian folklore. She is working on that. She’s doing it to help the students because many of them can’t go to Expo. They can’t travel because they don’t have the proper documents to travel; that’s why we’re having Expo at the school.”

Additionally, In July Graham said they will have an Entrepreneurship Youth Summit with Africans and African Americans coming together.

When Graham received her Goodwill Ambassador of the Golden Rule, she also received The “Dr. Melida A. Harris Barrow Empowering Humanity Award”.  During the Golden Rule Award Ceremony during Black History Month Celebration, hosted by Dr. Gladys Loggin, USA Africa Economic and Business Development Center, it was noted that “Graham is a change agent that demonstrates her belief in helping others through action.  As a networker, she conceives, arranges, and completes all the work necessary to bring people together for the betterment of all involved.  As her mentor, professor emeritus Dan Creeley Jr. once said, “She has vision and the passion of a missionary, with the skill of gentle persuasion to get others to want to listen to her ideas.”

Thank you Andrea Graham for your initiatives.  We all love you…

Graham said: “I like putting partnership alliances together and bring resources to the school. I like international affairs. I do it all for the students.”