Technically Brampton has already had three First Fridays, but the Caribbean Community is still in first contact mode for the once monthly business-networking event.
Last Friday evening over 50 people from Peel came out to see what the professionals' Greet and Meet is all about.Organizers are expecting an even larger crowd in April.
First Fridays is a networking and social night that is, as the name says, held the first Friday evening of each month, has been a must-attended ritual in Toronto for the past 26-years. An after-work chapter has just been established in Brampton which is being run by Ryan Knight, the Afro Caribbean Business Network CEO (ACBN), and Andria Barrett, the President of the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC).
Warren Salmon, the creator of First Fridays in Toronto, has helped established the new chapter. “I hold the trade mark to First Fridays and I have licensed it to the ACBN and the CBNN,” he told the Caribbean Camera. “ There is a real interest in holding the monthly event in Brampton. It is a big population centre and I am told that that the black community is one of the largest in the city.”
His First Fridays is an organization with a purpose to organize monthly dos that are focused on career, business and community development. The gatherings are held usually in a business centre, a licensed hall or restaurant.
“ It is really about networking. There is a small social aspect to it, we actually have had a couple of marriages over the years,” said Salmon. “But we are really about bringing people together to talk about their businesses and what we can do as a community!”
Salmon points out that over 25,000 past attendees have signed up to his First Friday’s Network. Most are black business people who follow the creed that 80% of all jobs and business are found through networking.
“Each month we have a different theme, this month it was Meet the Media. In Toronto we met in the Afroglobal Television studios with experts like CTV’s news announcer Nathan Downer, Caribbean Camera’s Gwyn Chapman, Jason Miller from the Toronto Star and the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Federal Minister of Social Development. They were there to talk about the role of the media in our community and to take questions!”
The Peel First Fridays had the same theme, with a different cast of media experts.
Taking part were radio host Karlene Nation, Nigerian News publisher Ngozi Ugoh and former Weather Network Host and now NDP MPP Kevin Yarde. Over 50 bought $20 tickets to meet at the Rutherford Road’s Empowered 4X (a new co-working spaces for start-up entrepreneurs).
“We are testing the waters and having the same themes at the gatherings in Brampton and here in Toronto” said Salmon. “Our next one is April 3rd and it will be all about Branding and Marketing. We are meeting at Diner’s Corner on Yonge St south of Bloor St. in Toronto and we in the process of signing up a large enough location in Brampton. Details will be posted on our website in a few days.”