By Majeedah Rashid
PHILADELPIA, Penn. – The 11th Annual National Muslim Business Council (NMBC) Conference was hosted in Philadelphia, May 2 – 4, 2014, by the Universal Muslim Business Association (UMBA), with a theme, “Building a Balanced Community through Economic Development.”
The NMBC and UMBA have a common purpose to establish associations that will galvanize Muslim businesses and business persons into collective entities and provide technical support and networking opportunities for the benefit of its membership and the community.
The NMBC Conference was held at Masjidullah’s new facility on the Center of Human Excellence Campus, which was packed to the rafters with Muslim business owners from Philadelphia and across the nation.
It began with Imam Yahya Abdullah delivering a Jumuah khutbah that inspired all in attendance. It was a great kick off to a milestone weekend, and the afternoon continued with an informative healthcare workshop from Dr. Abdel Nurriddin, followed by an upscale VIP Reception with Muslim Executives from diverse business backgrounds.
Friday ended with the Networking Social and Culture Night, with catered hors d’oeuvres and the mellow sounds of jazz and spoken word. Hosted by the talented Hujrah Wahaj, it included performances from vocalist Saeedah Abdellah, popular spoken word artist and scholar Seff Al-Afriqi, and the renowned jazz group Arpeggio.
The audience was energized and the ambience was perfect for experiencing this special night of culture and business networking. They shared best practices, enjoyed good food, and established relationships with brothers and sisters in business.
They also socialized, and enjoyed the Vendor’s Bazaar well into the night. Outside, the beautifully landscaped campus was alive with a Vendors Bazaar displaying a wide array of information, food, and merchandise on each day of the Conference.
Mu’min Islam, Founder of MFI Law Group gave Saturday morning’s welcome address, a prelude to what would be another exciting day for those who came to benefit from workshops and presentations from business professionals at the top of their fields.
Pennsylvania State Representative Dwight Evans and NMBC President David K. Hasan gave important remarks that charged the audience, followed by an engaging Keynote address from Michael A. Rashid, former President and CEO of one of the largest health care providers in the country - Amerihealth Caritas.
Ms. Nia Meeks skillfully moderated a lively panel discussion of the Conference topic with panelists Councilman Curtis “Hamza” Jones Jr.; Ryan N. Boyer (Business Manager- Laborers District Council); Marvin Muhammad (Coalition for Good Government) and Dr. Rashid Ali.
Prior to lunch, the UMBA President Zakariyya Abdur Rahman delivered a meaningful message that re-affirmed the purpose and goals of the Conference, before breaking for lunch. Parallel workshops were conducted in the afternoon in various classrooms, including facilitators with topics such as:
Aquil Abdus Sabur - Business Planning;
Nicole Newman - Marketing and Advertising;
Samir Muhammad and Karriem Beyah/Global Halal industry;
Jonas Tart/PNC Bank Business Banking;
Dr. Yahia Khairy Abdul-Rahman/International Trade;
Political Involvement/Omar Sabir; and
Aisha Ali/International Trade, and an Author’s Corner.
This wide array of dialogue provided attendees with valuable tools they can use in their own businesses and professions now and in the future.
After the afternoon break and prayer, there was a moving and insightful Keynote address from Rahim Islam, the acclaimed President & CEO of Universal Companies. His remarks were a road map for how to start, grow, and sustain a business, while rising above the associated challenges.
This was followed by closing remarks from the UMBA Vice President Rahima Z. Sabir, after which the attendees disbursed to network and enjoy the Vending Marketplace.
Also present were Jack Kitchen, President and CEO of Ogontz Avenue Community Development Corporation and Derrick Suswell, Treasurer-Universal Muslim Business Association.
There was an afternoon break before the Conference Awards Banquet on Saturday evening, and attendees enjoyed an elegant atmosphere and a delicious catered dinner.
Guest Speaker City Councilwoman Marian Tasco was well received with her speech that encouraged economic growth and development in our communities.
The Award presentations were a special highlight, including Dain Little, Nicole Newman from Newman Networks, and Ryan Boyer, Business Manager for the International Laborer’s Union.
Imam Wazir Ali from Houston Texas was the Banquet’s Keynote Speaker, and he gave a memorable and heartfelt address. Dignitaries along with hundreds of businesspeople, their colleagues, and families experienced this special night that honored outstanding business practices.
The Conference closed out on Sunday, with a Leadership Brunch and Economic Address. The list of dynamic Speakers and Dignitaries was impressive, and included: Masjidullah’s Imam Mikal Shabazz, Wallace Muhammad II, Sulaiman Z. Salaam, State Rep. Ronald Waters, Imam A. K. Hasan, Mubashir Uqdah, and Councilman Curtis “Hamza” Jones Jr.
The Muslim Journal’s Ayesha K. Mustafaa was also a speaker and delivered a message that stirred the audience.
Councilman Jones presented a Proclamation from Philadelphia’s City Council to recognize the Conference, which was accepted by NMBC President David K. Hasan, and UMBA President Zakariyya AbdurRahman.
State Representative Ron Waters presented a Citation from the State House of Representatives to recognize the event, which was also accepted by the Presidents of the NMBC and UMBA.
State Representative Waters continued with awards presented to Baseemah Hasan, wife of NMBC President, and Rahima Z. Sabir for helping to coordinate the Conference.
The Special Keynote Speaker Luqman Abdul Haqq/AKA Kenny Gamble was introduced by Rahim Islam, President & CEO of Universal Companies. Mr. Gamble is well respected for his long list of accomplishments in the recording industry as well years of community development and managing charter schools with his Universal Companies.
The audience was on its feet upon hearing his wisdom on business presented from a 100 persent real perspective, as only Kenny Gamble can do.
All of these talks and presentations were collectively a historic “Master Class” on the Conference theme of Building a Balanced Community through Economic Development. So everyone who was blessed to attend walked away with tools to affect change and success with their businesses, professions, and in the community.
By Majeedah Rashid