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 International Trade Course.
The President's reaction was, "This is great!" Through this four-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 bout 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
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
Now, thanks to Roby's Santa Monica-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
Roby, however, hopes to install the program in schools throughout
the country and to secure help from local corporations to support
Roby has dedicated the last 25 years of his life to teaching and
training people in business. The WBE.NET International Trade Course
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.