In Defense of SBI

In reflecting on Theo Wilson’s Nov. 15 article titled “The Lie of SBI: Capitalism,” I question whether Mr. Wilson understands the economic system he lives under and supports.

Mr. Wilson contends that capitalism is inherently destructive to blacks, yet he suggests that the School of Business and Industry focuses 100 percent on entrepreneurship, the very symbol of free market capitalism.

Is Mr. Wilson’s beef with capitalism (as a system) or the fact that blacks are not practicing enough of it? A contradiction lies therein.

According to Mr. Wilson, SBI should focus 100 percent on entrepreneurship, develop ideas, and request “capital” for a business that has no “capitalist gain.” Financiers will laugh in the face of any aspiring 22-year-old black entrepreneur – with no collateral and a mountain-load of debt – and throw his loan request in the trash bin right next to the business plan.

Not all SBI students desire to be entrepreneurs, nor could Dean Mobley sell this idea to the parent of an aspiring SBI student.

Think about it. How can business schools guarantee entrepreneurial success upon graduation? That would be an unsustainable business model because profitability may not occur for 3-5 years.

SBI cannot concentrate solely on entrepreneurship any more than Howard University Medical School can focus exclusively on AIDS or diabetes in the black community.

SBI students are provided with the business acumen (which includes entrepreneurial activities in the form of internal student companies), but ultimately it is up to individuals to decide how to make the best use of their skills.

Perhaps some FAMU students see the blue-suited SBI students as breaking the mode of expected behavior for a 17- to 22-year-old student. However, people may soon forget that the large majority of FAMU students will work right along side their SBI counterparts.

Albert Einstein once stated, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Imagination, desire and work ethic appear to be characteristics for a successful entrepreneur and no set of classes or motivational speeches can fully prepare us for this massive commitment. Ironically, many of us do not even support the black businesses that we have now.

Mr. Wilson is right that SBI consists of very talented and driven young men and women. Most will not only become business leaders in major firms, but successful entrepreneurs. They already exist and are symbols of excellence.

There is an underlying value in Mr. Wilson’s hyperbole; self-economic empowerment is certainly a topic worthy of discussion and deliberation. As the giants of the past have debated this issue, perhaps it’s time for another round.

Daaim Shabazz, Ph.D, is an assistant professor of Global Business & e-Business at the School of Business and Industry. He can be reached at