Mastercard is gifting a $5 million grant toward the development of a Black entrepreneurship program at Morehouse and Spelman college. The Center for Black Entrepreneurship will be essential in furthering entrepreneurial programming, leadership, and mentorship opportunities for aspiring Black business owners.
As the next generation is slated to be one of the most prominent groups of entrepreneurs we've seen, people in their 20s are starting businesses faster than ever. In a statement, Mastercard said HBCUs are a breeding ground for the next class of Black entrepreneurs. Through CBE, students will have the unique opportunity to engage with the Black community across different generations.
"For over a century, HBCUs have played a critical role in nurturing professional talent and creating economic mobility in Black communities," said Senior Vice President for Social Impact at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth Salah Goss.
With the new wave of young entrepreneurs, the CBE will work to "educate and empower a new generation of Black entrepreneurial talent." The goal is to eliminate barriers and pave a bright path for Black entrepreneurs and future investors by "leveraging education, mentorship, and access to capital and opportunity."
"By investing in HBCUs, Mastercard is intentionally choosing key institutions which we believe can be catalytic in furthering our commitment to ensuring that the digital economy works for the Black community, and for everyone, everywhere," the corporation said.
Morehouse and Spelman will use the grant to hire key faculty, develop an online entrepreneurship program, create a pitch competition and invest in technology. Students will also get to take advantage of Mastercard's digital innovation accelerator Start Path, a global startup built to maximize students' opportunities for success.
With 100,000 Black-owned businesses, Atlanta — which houses the two HBCUs — is positioned as a mecca for Black students and entrepreneurs. However, even with the city being one of the largest metropolitan areas, investment and venture capital firms are rarely connected with Black entrepreneurs in the Southeast. The grant is a part of Mastercard's $500 million initiative to promote racial equity and inclusion.
"The Morehouse mission is to help students develop the type of leadership and service qualities embodied in entrepreneurs and other visionaries," said Morehouse College President David A. Thomas, Ph.D. "The support from Mastercard will empower innovators to disrupt the status quo and move their ideas from concept to market, even as they create economic opportunities in the communities they serve."