Multicultural Business Summit

Multicultural Business Summit

Diversity: the Secret Sauce to Growing Your Company, Clients and Human Capital

Jan. 25, 2024
8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
University of georgia gwinnett campus


The annual Multicultural Business Summit, presented by the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, is a premiere networking and training event for entrepreneurs and business leaders. This year’s theme: “Diversity – The Secret Sauce to Growing Your Company, Clients and Human Capital”, Business owners will explore the role of diversity in fostering stronger client relationships and nurturing an inclusive workforce. The Summit will provide small business owners with the tools, knowledge, and resources to grow their businesses.

Early Bird Discount (ends 11/30): $55.00
Regular Price: $69.00

Thursday, January. 25, 2024
8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

UGA Gwinnett Campus
2530 Sever Rd Ste 100
Lawrenceville, GA 30043


8:30 a.m. | Registration and Networking

9:00 a.m. | Welcome

9:15 a.m. | News You Can Use – New State of Georgia Small Business initiatives

10:30 a.m. | Breakout Sessions:

  • Expanding Your Workforce in a Tight Labor Market
  • Creating a Dynamic Work Culture
  • The Multicultural Market – Expanding Your Customer Base


12:00 p.m | Networking

12:30 p.m. | Keynote Speaker

Breaks will be included throughout the day.



Chief of Business Advisory Services (CBAS) for Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs

Ray Pennie is the Chief of Business Advisory Services (CBAS) for Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs | ACE. As a member of the management team, Pennie serves as the leader of business advisory services for all Georgia markets. This role oversees and supports the development and offering of tailored, innovative, and comprehensive solutions for specific client business needs. He also spearheads business advisory initiatives that are supportive and consistent with ACE’s overall mission of providing loan capital to small businesses with a targeted strategy of serving women-owned, minority-owned, and low to moderate-income entrepreneurs.

Pennie leads and develops the implementation of the business advisory service programs by working closely with ACE’s leadership team, to identify lending products that are appropriate for ACE’s target markets. Prior to joining ACE, Pennie was Vice President of Business Development for Clearpoint, and was responsible for managing a national business development team that expanded Clearpoint’s mission of financial capability, education, and counseling outreach to underserved economic groups. His team was instrumental in developing new and diverse revenue streams by forming strategic alliances with national corporations and non-profits to further expand the agency’s footprint and reach. He has more than 28 years of experience in the banking sector working in commercial, residential lending and asset management. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Better Business Bureau of Metro Atlanta, Athens & North Georgia, and the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative (AWBI). Pennie also has been nominated to serve as the Southern Regional Council Chair for Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO). Before beginning his career, Pennie proudly served for six years in the U.S. Navy as a Cryptologic Technical Operator. He attended Capella University where he studied Business Management.


Procurement and Finance Specialist for the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center

Tulu Kaifee joined the Small Business Development Center’s Multicultural Business Division in October 2023 as a Procurement and Finance Specialist. Tulu has spent over 20 years in the financial services industry with experience in the consumer, small business and commercial lending segments serving entrepreneurs across GA. Tulu’s passion to serve multicultural and underrepresented communities gives her a unique edge incorporating Inclusion, Equity and Belonging strategies to attract and retain talent in a competitive environment.

Eric Stanley Bonaparte, Ph.D.

Former Associate State Director for the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center

Eric S. Bonaparte was born on the beautiful multi-cultural Caribbean Island of Trinidad and grew up in New York City, perhaps the most diverse major city in the world. Bonaparte has presented locally, nationally and internationally on multiple business topics including marketing to diverse segments.

Bonaparte is the former Associate State Director of the University of Georgia SBDC, Vice President of the Atlanta’s DeKalb Convention and Visitors Bureau and the principal of the Napoleon Group LLC., a property management and investment company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bonaparte’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Rutgers University, an MBA in Finance from Long Island University and a Doctorate in Education Leadership from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Bonaparte has been recognized as one of the top business consultants nationally having earned the America’s SBDC “Star Performer” designation given to only ten consultants nationally in the year he was awarded and the prestigious Walter B. Hill award for distinguished career public service by the University of Georgia.


Applied Demographer for the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute for Government

Taylor Hafley is the Applied Demographer at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Taylor’s demographic research and data analysis supports state agencies and local governments as a part of the Workforce Development and Economic Analysis Unit. Among his projects, Taylor partners with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget to produce county-state population projections. He speaks regularly with groups throughout the state about Georgia’s demographic trends.