L.A. Watts Times

Published December 2, 1999


SHARING VISION -- Roosevelt Roby, second from left, shares his vision of success for the future of international trade with student Lera Ashe, seated left, as course instructor Alfonzo Cliff Webb II, left, Locke High School Principal Anne Webb, L.A. County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Congress woman Juanita McDonald, Gov. Gray Davis and President Bill Clinton look on.

President Clinton, during his "Tour on Poverty" this past summer stopped at Locke High School.

While there, accompanied by Gov. Gray Davis, he met with Roosevelt Roby, CEO of the World Business Exchange and saw a demonstration of Roby's student-operated Internet import/export trade program called the WBE.NET Global Internet Trade Course for Students.

The President's reaction was, "This is great!" Through this two-semester program, at-risk students develop a sense of entrepreneurship and an excitement for learning while exploring the inner workings of the online import/export business.

Students conduct simulated business exercises to identify products to sell, evaluate trade leads and handle all details of shipping and handling through freight forwarders, pro forma invoices, letters of credit and insurance. They learn how to expand their cultural awareness and become better citizens by creating respect, tolerance and acceptance of differences in diverse people around the globe. The students become international trade entrepreneurs with valuable hands-on experience to fulfill the needs of international companies who want to purchase products from the U.S.

While navigating WBE.NET, they must also apply basic reading, math and communications skills to learn about the global marketplace. They actually complete transactions, with all profits going directly to the school.

By the time the students graduate, they can leave high school prepared to compete for careers in international trade in the highly technological future.

Founded by Roby, the first WBE.NET course began at Locke in February 1998 with 60 students. The L.A. Unified School District approved the course this year. Locke High School Principal Anne Webb reported to the Los Angeles Board of Education that the course is responsible for generating a new interest from students in school. As a result of overall student enthusiasm, Locke was removed from the list of 100 Worst Schools in Los Angeles and is now considered to have one of the most progressive international trade programs taught over the Internet.

Now, thanks to Roby's Los Angeles-based REIS Foundation, a research company, the course has now been installed in three other high schools in the Los Angeles area: Jordan High, and King Drew and Mid-City magnet schools.

Roby, however, hopes to install the program in schools throughout the country and to secure help from local corporations to support its expansion.

Roby has dedicated the last 25 years of his life to teaching and training people in business. The WBE.NET Global Internet Trade Course for Students was created because he had always wanted to be in a position to help students, to have the opportunity he was denied while growing up in the cotton fields of Mississippi.

WBE.NET, an on-line commerce service and trade association, began in 1987 as the result of a global market research project that drew a response from more than 9,000 people who wanted to buy American products but didn't know who to contact to facilitate a transaction. Its purpose is to provide people around the world with an opportunity to engage in the business of international trade as a middleman/agent, regardless of their education or background.

The company identified a huge market and need for people who can facilitate trade transactions. They target ethnic minority, disadvantaged and women entrepreneurs who seek the level playing field of the Internet to build or expand their global businesses.

Roby developed an electronic bulletin board to link agents and middlemen with buyers and suppliers, to communicate swiftly with people across the world and to disseminate international trade leads and global market research information.

"These entrepreneurs are not qualified for government assistance because they don't manufacture products, they don't have money to buy inventory or stock and they may not have been in business for the required period of time," Roby said. "What they do have is the ability to locate products and services using the Internet, and the ambition to learn how to fulfill the needs of buyers and suppliers."

"The future of our students depends on projects like this that instill them with the motivation to want to learn," Roby added.

For more information on the project, call 800-537-7347, or visit the web site at www.wbe.net.