SAP, a business application software company, in partnership with the non-profit PYXERA Global, is supporting racial and social justice through its pro-bono, six-week program focused on helping Black entrepreneurs successfully grow their small business. Cyber Pop-up CEO and founder Dr. Christine Izuakor attests to its success.
The virtual Pro Bono for Economic Equity (PBEE) program utilizes the expertise of SAP professionals to support Black entrepreneurs by helping them grow their businesses in these areas:
Streamlining and improving efficiency
Transitioning operations or services to virtual
Meeting customer needs in the current environment
Building resilience in difficult times
Businesses accepted into the program are assigned a team of two to three SAP professionals who each dedicate 80 hours to the business over the span of the six-week program. The team will, following the businesses application questions, match the needs of the entrepreneur as closely as possible.
According to the program's website, the team members will represent "various disciplines and backgrounds to provide a multilayered perspective to those businesses selected for participation in the program."
Cyber Pop-up was the first cohort accepted into the PBEE program. The small business was founded by Dr. Christine Izuakor, a 10-year veteran in the cybersecurity industry who shifted from a career in corporate America to pursue entrepreneurship fulltime. Cyber Pop-up aims to provide on-demand access to cybersecurity experts for small to medium businesses that don't have an in-house team to handle cybersecurity issues. According to Izuakor, Cyber Pop-up is planning for launch later this year.
Izuakor said SAP's PBEE program helped her navigate the challenges of being a first-time solo founder by helping her turn knowledge and advice into action.
"[The PBEE program] really stuck out to me because, as a first-time founder, I was getting so much information and so much knowledge of what I needed to do, and that was really important, but as a solo founder with no team, I had no one to help me actually [execute] it," Izuakor told ZDNet.
SAP matched Izuakor with a team of three consultants who had different skill sets but were tailored to the challenges Cyber Pop-up was facing at the time. The team worked with Izuakor to create a business framework, lay out key performance indicators (KPIs), set short- and long-term business goals, create proof-of-product plans, look at growth strategies, and create a technology roadmap, among other things.
"We came in at a point where, as a solo founder, I had scrappily pulled together the early proof points to show that the business model can work," Izuakor said. "I was doing everything as inexpensively as I could on my own, and we had gotten to a point where we were seeing much more interest and demand than what those manual and basic processes could manage, so the SAP team really came together to help figure out how to both build something that is more robust and scalable for today, but also thinking about the future and where we want to be from a technology standpoint in three years or five years."
According to Izuakor, the SAP team worked quickly, and delivered wireframe mock-ups in just two days.
"A lot of programs don't move as quickly and don't have as much passion and intent that this team we were connected to had. And even just the momentum we started off with was an inspiration to me, and I think pushed me to work with the team even more closely. So by the time we got to the end of the program, I had so many good deliverables, strategies, and insights," she said.
Since launching in just four cities in the US, SAP said the PBEE program has helped more than 55 businesses, including Cyber Pop-up. The program has since expanded globally into the UK, Brazil, and South Africa, and according to the company, will soon be available in Canada.
Izuakor said that the PBEE program helped her both plan for the product her company is building today and build strategies to secure funding through pitch competitions and fundraising. "The program really helped set a foundation both from a product and growth readiness standpoint, and set a solid foundation for us to build on, and we're still building on that same foundation today," she said.
The application for the PBEE program is open during a specific time window. Interested entrepreneurs can check when applications open and apply here.