BC Clark! This name rings a bell?… President of the Metro Omaha Women’s Business Center, nationally Certified SCORE Business Mentor, member of National Coalition of Black Women(NCBW) as an ambassador mentor for women, recognized in 2012 by Honorable Lee Terry, in a speech to the 112th congress as one of 12 women in business impacting Omaha and Nebraska, chosen as keynote speaker for Black History Month at Mercy High School, inspiring young women to follow their dreams and forget about a glass ceiling “Don’t limit yourself by what others think and believe” and we can keep going. She is an extraordinary woman with many hats and a perfect definition of Black excellence. We got the opportunity to sit with her and learn from her. Let us take you along for an adventurous read.
Q: Please state your name, your title and current position for our readers
A: My name is BC Clark.
I hold many titles. I am the director of Training and Client Development and President of Metro Omaha Women Business Center. I am an entrepreneur and have my own company, Leading Edge Entrepreneur Group. I am also Director of Programming for Grow Nebraska Women Business center, and have partnership with other companies.
Q: What is your background? Would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself?
A: When I was in 10th grade, I worked as the book-keeper at a gas station my father owned at the time. I never envisioned myself starting and owing my personal business, which eventually saw the light of day in 2003. Prior to that however, in 1997, I began working for ConAgra Foods. I worked hard and rose through the ranks to becoming the IT Manager of the company. I served as a liaison between several IT companies in that role which involved travelling to several of our locations for training purposes.
I learned a lot in my years at Conagra; I acquired solid knowledge and understanding in how to conduct negotiations between internal and external vendors and I know well how to bring resources and people together to achieve a set goal.
In 2014, I started working as a TV host on the Business Connection TV Show on KPAO Channel 22. In that role, I interviewed several business owners across the state.
I have always been a big proponent for women and this led me to start the Metro Omaha Women Business Center in 2008 with the sole purpose to bring women together, share ideas and resources and help each other, hence the business partnership with Grow Nebraska Women Business Center.
I served on several boards including the Ralston Chamber Board for 6 years (2 terms of 3 years), on the Midland Latino Community Development Center Board for 2 years, the Nebraska Business Development Central Advisory board for 5 years to this day and Metro Education Advisory Board.
Q: Urban League Guild, could you share a little bit about it?
A: I served in the Urban League for one year. It is an entity which organizes certain events such as fundraisers and more in that regard.
I mentor at Carole’s house of hope twice a month on Mondays. In addition, I am a Partner body with three Sisters’ Organization, where I help with a 9-week program all about business. I served in an organization in Lincoln called the Refinery where I go every month to conduct workshops for immigrant women on Finance, Credit, Borrowing basics etc.
Q: It’s very difficult as an entrepreneur to juggle work and your own business. How do you balance being an employee and an entrepreneur?
A: Everything I am doing is hand in hand and my skills and training are tight together as one thing. Although I am working for several companies, they seem to be an extension of each other as I practically do the same thing for each of those entities. Now at times, the workload increases and a break is needed but I do well to apportion the needed time to my several tasks.
Q: Why is it so difficult for minorities, especially black entrepreneurs to have access to capital when undertaking a business?
A: “What part of access is it that you don’t have” is what I first inquired when I heard such assertions. Of course, they’d refer to their credit score and their lack of collateral because the real issue is not the access to the capital but the things that they may not have in place in order to acquire the access to the capital. I have heard many people make that statement. However, the access to the capital is there, and in huge ways. We do have money to lend and part of our goal is to make people aware of the resources we have available to them. That’s why every year we organize the “From Startup to Success” Conference because we have Score, MBDC, The City of Omaha, and all the resources at that conference. Several important leaders delivering on important topics will be present. We bring everything to the table but one thing I have noticed is that people don’t go for what they need. They talk about it but they don’t go and get it when it is made available to them. Minority businesses do not invest back into their own businesses. We encourage them to own their business but unfortunately we don’t value our business enough to invest in it, in ourselves and making sure we know and understand our business. We can’t depend on nobody to help us be successful.
Q: You mentioned mentoring and the program with the Refinery in Lincoln. Could you further elaborate?
A: Of course. It is a complete program run with immigrant women. They work on different types of items and when they graduate, they put their items up for sale to allow the guests to purchase them. They only lack in-depth knowledge in finance and credit systems and that’s where we bring in our knowledge. My work is also extended to a group at Abundant life where my efforts are focused on paying to have their credit fixed because they lacked their wisdom and knowledge in that area.
Q: Let’s talk a bit about the IT Field. Did you purposefully choose that industry?
A: Let me tell you how that happened. I first started out in Marketing and Finance. When I moved to Omaha in 1997, I began working for ConAgra Foods in the IT Department. At that time, they had these machines called 3742s and we had to write programs to enter the data they provided us. I liked the challenge as everyday was different and new. I thrive in challenging environments and found the task very intriguing. I thus started taking classes and workshops to further educate myself in the field. The intrigue and my curiosity ignited a thirst for knowledge which, over the years, helped me to rise through the ranks to becoming a manager. I love IT. So I can say that I chose it because I fell in love with it.
At some point in my career however, it felt old to me and my heart was pulling me towards doing more for women. In 2003, before I retired in 2005, I knew I needed to do something different.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an Entrepreneur?
A: As an Entrepreneur, the biggest challenge when I first started was funding, getting to particular resources that were not available to us and also making sure we were focused on our business. Back then, we weren’t regarded as important; the challenges were certainly greater than they are now. I can say for a fact that we acted as pioneers for the younger women entrepreneurs today.
Q: This is one challenge I need to overcome myself: focusing more on my business. You asked me in the past a question that was a wake-up call for me. Attending all the business events, conferences, talking to people but seeing no improvement in your business, so “Who are you connected to”?
A: It is very important. Sometimes, you have to take a step back and assess what you’re running and moving to and also from. Is it something you want to be going to? or from? Sometimes we are in places where we shouldn’t be. Most times, when God isn’t in it, it just does not work. We just ought to stop, look, listen and pray. I am a big proponent of faith and believing in God, trusting God because I cannot do anything without Him. This is not cliché; it is just what it is. Every day, I submit my spirit, body and soul to God. I surrender my day to the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. Every morning, I repent for what I did that I don’t even remember. I need that to keep me going for the day. I started out that way. I just do what I do and I do that through the strength and the guidance of the Lord. Sometimes, we just have to stop and ask Him because at times we do so much of what we want to do, disregarding what He wants us to do. Therefore, we must ask Him what our purpose is?
On occasion, you have to sit down and ask yourself what your purpose is. This will greatly help in determining where you’re heading to and why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Q: This isn’t a business related question. Are you a Family person?
A: I am. Family first for me. I am a very independent woman but my family means the world to me. We have family time, family bible study and we are very knitted together.
Q: How many children do you have? Any grandchildren?
A: I am a mother of five children and five grand-children.