Morehouse Encourages Students To Explore Entrepreneurship

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From the NY Times:

Four years ago, a representative of an established business plan competition, the ORNL Global Venture Challenge, phoned Tiffany Bussey, founding director of the Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center. The representative was looking for minority students with business plans.

As a leader among historically black colleges and universities — and famously the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr. — Morehouse could help, Ms. Bussey said. But the phone call confirmed something she’d already suspected: minority students were not taking full advantage of undergraduate business plan competitions and the opportunities they present for mentorship, networking and financial reward.

She didn’t have the numbers, and it wasn’t clear that any agency, school or research firm had compiled them, but Ms. Bussey, co-founder of the Rogers Bussey management consultancy, believed that African-American and Hispanic students were not competing in established competitions in numbers that reflected the community’s growing interest in entrepreneurship. Recent studies by the Kauffman Foundation, for example, have found that American “blacks are about 50 percent more likely to engage in start-up activities than whites.”

Nonetheless, Ms. Bussey’s efforts to encourage submissions to the Global Venture Challenge and other competitions produced no takers. This was especially surprising given that Morehouse offered courses with internal competitions for grades or class credit; she knew her students had the skills. So why didn’t they want to compete? “I’d ask the question in classes,” she said. “But everyone looked back blank.”

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