By Lonnie Abdul Saboor
(Note: Bro. Lonnie Saboor delivered the special address at Muslim Journal’s Annual Business Breakfast, Sun., Dec. 14, 2015, held at Masjid Al-Muminun in Memphis, Tenn. This is part 2 of his address; part 1 published in Muslim Journal issue dated Jan. 9, 2015. Part 1 covered “ The Business Legacy of Muslim Business Development in Atlanta” and “Efforts to unite Muslim Businesses both locally and nationally.” Part 2 covers what he titled “What we can do today to achieve our rightful business Khalifa (custodian/vicegerent) position in The Promised Land [and I don’t mean just 40 acres and a mule].)
What Local Muslim Business Associations Should Do:
If you are a Muslim Business Association or want to start one, you should do the following things:
Add younger business people to your Board (ages 20-40).
Your membership and board should consist of both businessmen and women.
Develop a membership directory
Establish your association website and make it very user friendly.
Promote the experience of your Board on the website.
Add a member’s only portal to your website.
Develop online webinars for members.
Add a Resource Page to your website that will connect your members with local partner organizations that can help your members grow.
In order to truly empower your members you must identify other organizations that have business development as part of their purpose.
Develop an action plan to assist all levels of business membership both internally and externally.
Use social media to communicate with your younger membership base.
Identify business sponsors for your association. Sponsorships will be needed to insure the financial stability of the association and allow the organization to continue serving its membership base.
Make contact with your city, county and state Economic Development and Community Development offices to inform your members about available programs in your area that they can take advantage of.
Some of these programs can be interest free, grants and tax credits. (In Atlanta, I have been able to provide over ½ a billion dollars in public/private sector financing to assist over 600 business projects.)
State and Federal Tax Credits can allow you to get grant funds to finance your apartment and senior citizen housing projects, thus minimizing your equity injection.
Find out if you have areas in your city that are qualified as Tax Allocation Districts or Tax Increment Districts that provide special funds to commercial property owners.
Invite these agencies to speak at your membership events).
We need every association to join the National Muslim Business Council in 2015. There is strength in numbers and active associations can make a difference. There are many projects and opportunities around the country that we can take advantage of, if we are connected and know each other.
In Atlanta alone, we have the new $1.3 billion dollar Atlanta Falcon Football Stadium going up in 2017. My office at Invest Atlanta is issuing the $200 million in bond financing required by the city of Atlanta to fund part of the project.
Active associations can allow us to pass on upcoming business opportunities in various cities and states; form potential joint venture partnerships with each other and expand our annual business revenue substantially.
As an active association we should have excess to your membership directory and expect you to know about the credibility of your members.
If I know about a possible $50 million engineering project in Atlanta and one of our members is looking for a joint venture partner, I would expect you to let us know if you have any concerns regarding a member listed in your directory.
This is also an added incentive to have all Muslim businesses in your area join your association.
Working together, we can provide the strength needed to accomplish our goals. Working together we can overcome all obstacles in our path. It’s our time, 40 years have passed and we are now working with a new generation of believers.
It is time to take our 40-year Legacy deeper into The Promised Land to achieve our awaited destiny. We have unfinished business to do in this material world for our family, community, country and the world.