August 24, 2015
By: Amy Schulz, VP of Membership at NACCE
On August 19, I had the distinct honor of visiting the Bay Area Entrepreneur Center hosted by Skyline College in San Bruno, CA. The BAEC is part business incubator, part accelerator, part co-working space and part community resource center. Located just ten miles south of San Francisco, the BAEC faces stiff competition in the incubator/accelerator space, but they are able to hold their own in this fierce arena by serving the entrepreneurs of the local community. My generous hosts for the visit were Dr. Tammy Robinson the Interim Dean of Global Learning, Alex Kramer the Deputy Sector Navigator for Small Business, Southwest Bay Area Region, and Pcyeta Stroud the Director of BAEC.
From left to right, Alex Kramer, Pcyeta Stroud, Amy Schulz and Dr. Tammy Robinson at the Bay Area Entrepreneurship Center.
While there are many success stories born out of the center itself, I personally was most inspired because I had opportunity to pay tribute to a dear friend who founded the center just one year ago, Richard Soyombo. Serving as Dean of Global Learning at Skyline College, Richard Soyombo was larger than life and full of ambitions for what is possible in the world. Richard passed away suddenly this past April, and his death rocked his colleagues from around the world. Richard was Nigerian and an international businessman and entrepreneur.
I first met Richard in 2013 after taking a group of my Feather River College students to Uganda for development and entrepreneurship projects. We connected immediately on the power and importance of cross-cultural exchanges to and from Africa. We shared a belief that expanding networks on both continents will result in entrepreneurial activities and developmental progress. He invited me to bring my students to Skyline College to share our experience with college leadership in order to expand study abroad programs at his college.
During his time at Skyline College, Richard bridged many cultures and created opportunities for business and entrepreneurship education for countless students and the community as a whole. Richard fervently believed in the power of entrepreneurship to empower people from any background, and his passion for the field was infectious. Richard shared his vision of economic empowerment through entrepreneurship with his top college leaders, resulting in the support for the BAEC.
As I toured the BAEC, I could feel the energy and the essence of Richard’s vision for the future. During our laughter-filled lunch, I could almost hear his warm, booming laugh that was his trademark. Most poignantly, I was struck by the impact he left behind with the Bay Area Entrepreneurship Center and his lasting leadership. By acting on his inspiration, he has left a legacy to serve entrepreneurs and students and give hope to anyone who choose to believe in their own potential.