NEWS: Partnership with HBCUs seeks to boost minority entrepreneurship in the Delta

April 27, 2016

ITTA BENA, Miss. – Five Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Delta region will empower aspiring student entrepreneurs to develop their ideas for business success through the inaugural HBCU Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Initiative, leaders with the Delta Regional Authority, Allen Entrepreneurial Institute, and Mississippi Valley State University announced today.

The Initiative will help HBCUs and their student populations expand their local entrepreneurial ecosystem by engaging HBCU leaders, community leaders, and student entrepreneurs in a series of activities that support the growth of minority-owned businesses on college campuses in the Delta region.

“Entrepreneurship presents an important opportunity for youth to channel their creativity into business success and economic activity for their local community,” DRA federal co-chairman Chris Masingill said. “HBCU campuses present a great space to cultivate student entrepreneurs and build a more inclusive and supportive ecosystem for minority entrepreneurship to grow and help transform the Delta.”

Campuses participating in the inaugural round of the Initiative will be selected through a competitive application that is open now through May 30, 2016. The selected schools will receive funding and support to host a two-day technical assistance and rapid acceleration workshop to teach aspiring and advanced student entrepreneurs about the skills and resources needed to launch and scale their businesses.

Upon completion of the two-day session, student entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas for a chance to be selected to represent their schools and the region at Founders Weekend on the AEI campus in Lithonia, Georgia. Winning entrepreneurs on each campus will receive pitch practice, mentorship with successful minority entrepreneurs, business model development, and other technical assistance leading up to the Founders Weekend activities.

“AEI is committed to expanding the entrepreneurial mindset of HBCUs and their students within the Delta region,” said Bill Allen, founder and president of the AEI. “Through our joint efforts, we will work to expand the number and size of minority and women owned businesses in the U.S. by partnering with and preparing our HBCU students to become tomorrow's business owners. 

Interested schools can review the initiative’s application guidelines at www.dra.gov/smallbiz and must submit an application by May 30, 2016.

“MVSU is excited to be apart of such a profound initiative that will help continue to spur the economic growth opportunities for the Mississippi Delta region,” said MVSU President William Bynum.  “This is a great opportunity for students to gain valuable tools and resources as they venture into entrepreneurship.”

The HBCU Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Initiative is part of the DRA’s Delta Entrepreneurship Network that is identifying, connecting, and growing entrepreneurs into talented, innovative drivers of the Delta’s local and regional economies. DEN recently hosted a HBCU roundtable conversation with presidents and business college deans of the region’s HBCUs to discuss opportunities to increase entrepreneurship among minority populations and the role that HBCUs can and should play in supporting youth entrepreneurship.

About the Delta Regional Authority

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. Learn more at dra.gov.

Spencer Lucker, DRA                                                   Maxine Greenleaf, MVSU
(202) 434-4842                                                              (662) 254-3577
slucker@dra.gov                                                           max.greenleaf@mvsu.edu

Matt Hampton, AEI
(501) 247-3413
matt.hampton@aeiinternational.com