HBCU Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Initiative

While national entrepreneurial growth is strong among minorities, it is important that we continue to work to create an inclusive ecosystem for these businesses and their owners to grow and thrive. The HBCU Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Initiative was created to support ongoing efforts on historically black college and university campuses targeting minority and women-owned businesses. The Initiative will catalog current resources available to young entrepreneurs, strengthen existing programs, encourage collaboration between partner institutions, and give student entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed.

Key Facts

  • According to the Census Bureau 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO), minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs) currently make up about 29% of all businesses in the United States.
  • Majority (Non-Hispanic White) persons own about 69% of business enterprises.
  • Between 2007 and 2012, minority firms increased in number by 38.8%, while majority firms decreased about 4.6% in number.
  • Minority-owned businesses have continually grown in number and average revenue over the past decade, with over 2,237,017 businesses opening since 2007 with average revenues up 10.1%.
  • Women of color have experienced a substantial increase in entrepreneurship. Nationally, the percentage of businesses owned by women of color grew from 17 percent in 1997 to 38 percent in 2012.
  • Women of color are much closer to achieving an equal balance of businesses owned by men and women within their own racial/ethnic group than white women. In 2012, for example, black women owned nearly 60 percent of all black-owned businesses, compared with white women, who owned only 33 percent of all white-owned businesses.

About the HBCU Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Initiative

This opportunity will identify the physical and digital entrepreneurial resources for potential and current entrepreneurs in HBCU communities, both physical and digital. The selected institutions will be working with the partners to identify entrepreneurial resources, including the identification of strengths and weaknesses of the ecosystem, and strategically plan to build and enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem in their communities.

In addition to the strategic plans, selected campuses will have a two-day rapid acceleration process for students that are interested in starting a business. These students will go through business consultation, pitch development, and mentorship to launch their businesses.

The intent of the project is to enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem on HBCU campuses, promote entrepreneurship, and prepare student entrepreneurs in the eight-state region. This project will align with the DRA’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Policy Framework (SBE Framework).

How to Apply

DRA invites applications from qualified educational institutions to:

  1. Complete the application format, and
  2. Once selected, prepare a strategic plan with partner organizations to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem and host student accelerator seminars.

Responding entities should be able to show their interest in expanding their entrepreneurship ecosystems and prior commitment and interest to entrepreneurship and/or business development with students.

Application Format

The Application should include the information requested below:

  • Detailed cover letter summarizing the current work of the entity in business and entrepreneurship AND desire to build or enhance their current entrepreneurial ecosystem;
  • Description of the Project Team. The names, title and qualifications (resumes) of the proposed support staff who will be the on-campus lead for this assignment, including their experience and relevant projects in which they had “hands on” responsibility;
  • Letters (2) of support from institution Presidents/Chancellors and Business or relevant Division Chairs; and
  • Lists of potential community partners, letters of support from those organizations are encouraged.

The length of the Application is at the discretion of the entity but it should be readable by a range of stakeholders. 

Download the Application

Schedule of Selection

The following is an outline of the selection procedure and a tentative time schedule:

Release Application: April 27, 2016

Deadline for submission of application: May 30, 2016, 5:00 PM CST

Review of application, candidate interviews and clarification discussions: June 6-17, 2016

Entities Announced: June 20, 2016

Note-Selected entities will be encouraged to send a representative to AEI for the HBCU Summer Accelerator in Atlanta, GA July 13-16, 2016.

All dates above are approximate and may be extended or revised by DRA.

Selection Criteria

Applicant HBCUs within the 252 counties of the DRA footprint will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Prior work with building the entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus;
  • Expressed interest in building and developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the HBCU community and community at large;
  • Background and experience in similar projects;
  • Staff expertise and overall experience of personnel assigned to the work;
  • Responsiveness to requirements of the project; and
  • Such other factors as DRA shall determine.

The stated criteria may be supplemented, weighted or revised at the sole discretion of DRA.

About our Program Partners

Allen Entrepreneurial Institute

Founded in 2000, The Allen Entrepreneurial Institute sits on 140 acres of pristine natural resources complimented by lavish and expansive facilities, which inspire students who visit our campus to become business leaders. The Allen Entrepreneurial Institute provides entrepreneurial training and leadership development for middle / high school students, college students, and entrepreneurs. AEI has impacted thousands of students through its programs and inspired numerous minority entrepreneurs. Currently AEI is implementing the Business and Money Matters (B.a.M.M.) educational system. The system blends classroom learning, multi-media resources, technology-based learning applications, and experiential learning to provide high school and college students with applied entrepreneurial learning experiences.

Mississippi Valley State University

Mississippi Valley State University, as a Carnegie Classified Master's University, provides comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs in education, the arts and sciences, and professional studies. The University is driven by its commitment to excellence in teaching, learning, service, and research--a commitment resulting in a learner-centered environment that prepares critical thinkers, exceptional communicators, and service-oriented, engaged, and productive citizens. MVSU is fundamentally committed to positively impacting the quality of life and creating extraordinary educational opportunities for the Mississippi Delta and beyond.