SpelHouse Partners With Black Economic Alliance To Open Center for Black Entrepreneurship
12th March 2021 by BOTWC Staff
12th March 2021 by BOTWC Staff
This is the first step in creating generational wealth!
SpelHouse recently partnered with the Black Economic Alliance to open the Center for Black Entrepreneurship (CBE), Associated Press News reports.
The new center, designed to train Black entrepreneurs through a curriculum of business development, speakers, and mentorship opportunities, is a partnership between Spelman College, Morehouse College, and the Black Economic Alliance, an advocacy group comprised of business leaders. The center will be housed on both campuses, in Spelman's Center for Innovation & the Arts, and inside a new building on Morehouse's campus. The entrepreneurial training program will also focus on investment opportunities for the HBCUs in the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUC), including Spelman, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Clark Atlanta University.
Morehouse President David A. Thomas spoke about the new CBE, saying, "What I envision is for other historically Black colleges to join the CBE network so that these entrepreneurship centers are developed and connected across the country. Collaboration makes these programs stronger...For America to thrive, we need to support Black businesses and entrepreneurship. And we need to do it now. At a center like this, a student's dreams can be realized. They can find a community behind them to empower them and give them the support they need. The impact is immediate. And then years from now, that new business owner will be able to reinvest in their community and continue that legacy."
The center is partially funded by a $10 million grant from Bank of America to support programming that advances the mission of their $1 billion racial equity fund. The pandemic has shined a light on the necessity for Black-owned businesses amidst the social and racial reckoning. James Johnson Jr., professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell, agreed that focusing on building Black entrepreneurs is the first step in addressing systemic barriers for Black entrepreneurs and closing the wealth gap.
"These barriers have existed for decades. You're asking Black entrepreneurs to start a mile back from the starting line. What we intend to do with the center is to propel them forward," Campbell said.
Johnson also highlighted the need for the center to expand outside the scope of the university setting eventually, saying, "I'm happy to see these centers, but we can't stop there. The center has to be within a larger ecosystem that supports Black businesses for these entrepreneurs to thrive.
David Clunie, executive director of the Black Economic Alliance, also spoke about the partnership's importance.
"In 2020, we saw an acknowledgment from many in the investor community that there needs to be a change, that we need to take a look at these barriers and how they are preventing talented aspiring Black entrepreneurs from reaching their full potential. We need to give them the education, resources, and opportunities they need to really succeed. You see more urgency within the investment community to support Black businesses during this time and to counteract decades of systemic racism that has been highlighted last year through the pandemic. This conversation is way overdue, but it's the perfect time to have it."
The Center for Black Entrepreneurship is slated to launch during the fall 2021 semester with in-person instruction and online programs for the general public, including opportunities for certifications in project management, cybersecurity, and more.
Photo Courtesy of Chris Sumlin/HBCU Buzz