(Photo: Matt McClain for the Washington Post/Getty Images)
Here’s a novel way to graduate from college unburdened by student loans: start your own business and create jobs in the process. If you’re thinking that sounds far-fetched, think about these students who participated in a young entrepreneur’s conference at Johnson B. Smith University, in Charlotte, North Carolina: One young man opened up a barbershop that is now a full-service chain of salons; a woman created a public relations and marketing firm; and another man formed a high-tech digital company.
The White House, which wants to see that kind of innovation replicated on Black college campuses across the nation, hosted a forum on entrepreneurship Monday that was attended by leaders from several HBCUs and minority serving institutions, business owners and government officials. It’s an offshoot of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Young Entrepreneurs initiative launched several months ago.
“We determined that it would be good for us to connect to our historically Black colleges and universities and minority serving institutions to ensure that those institutions that are so critical to preparing the next generation of leadership in our country had the opportunity to talk about entrepreneurship and how they can do the best job possible to identify, nurture and support an entrepreneurial spirit on their campuses,” SBA deputy administrator Marie Johns told reporters on a conference call.
“Today’s forum is designed to bring leaders together from these institutions to talk about best practices they can share and how they can expand the opportunities for entrepreneurship on their campuses,” Johns said. “These are institutions that have a great opportunity to create the next generation of entrepreneurs to help us ensure that the economic recovery is across the board, leaving no communities behind.”
The agency’s counseling and technical assistance network includes small business development centers on 17 HBCU campuses. It also has developed mobile apps that can connect would-be young entrepreneurs to SBA resources, mentors and other young entrepreneurs. The Department of Education is SBA’s partner in the HBCU initiative, working with schools to strengthen and enhance their business programs.
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