ATLANTA—Morehouse College has received a $350,000 grant from Wells Fargo to fund the Entrepreneurs of Color Program, which helps minority entrepreneurs to improve their business models, marketing outreach, technology systems, and seek resources necessary for growth.
The grant is being managed by the Morehouse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (MIEC), an outreach that provides access to training and capital for business owners of color and future entrepreneurs across the metro Atlanta area.
The grant will extend MIEC’s reach and ability to support businesses in its pipeline. Through industry and higher education collaborations within the tech, banking, and academic fields, MIEC has successfully helped to increase the number of new businesses in Southwest Atlanta and provide support services to new and existing small, minority, and women-owned business enterprises. These collaborations engage thought leaders and experts at Morehouse College, local organizations that provide community-focused services, and Morehouse students interested in entrepreneurship and consulting.
“We appreciate this grant because it will help us to continue to do the important work of closing some of the gaps in funding and training that minority businesses have experienced for centuries,” said Dr. Tiffany Bussey, director of the Morehouse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. “While we are making progress, we have a large ground to cover, and there is so much more work that is left to be done.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent Annual Business Survey, only 18 percent of all businesses in the nation are minority-owned and about 20 percent women-owned. Georgia is trending ahead of the nation in the number of Black-owned businesses as more Black entrepreneurs enter the Atlanta marketplace. The share of Black businesses in the Atlanta area rose from 6.1 percent in 2017 to 6.6 percent in 2018. Nationally, the percentage of Black businesses remained static at 2.1 percent during the same years.
Wells Fargo, a multinational financial services company, is committed to helping small businesses flourish by providing them with greater access to technology, business planning, and mentorship opportunities. The global company is supporting business growth philanthropy through its Open for Business Fund, a roughly $420 million small business recovery effort. The grant to Morehouse is among more than $55 million being given to 93 nonprofits to support training.
“We are thrilled to support Morehouse College and its Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center with a $350,000 grant,” said Wells Fargo Region Bank President Chad Gregory. “This grant from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund will help the center continue its great work helping Black-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs succeed. The center provides access to capital, training and one-on-one coaching that really sets it apart from other programs, making it a model for higher education and industry collaboration.”
The MIEC has trained the leaders of 236 underserved businesses through its consulting cohorts, which are offered several times each year. Its work has resulted in the creation of over 476 new jobs. One of those businesses in the MIEC pipeline, a data analytics consulting firm Entellimetrix LLC of Johns Creek, Ga., which has been serving customers for more than nine years, was recently named to Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 List as one of the fastest-growing small businesses in the nation.
“It’s been an exciting journey,” said Magha Devan, a partner and co-founder at Entellimetrix. “We were brought into the cohort and asked to restudy our strategy. We received quite a few mentors, including a finance expert. The experience helped us to look into every aspect of our organization, from operations to marketing. We made changes and tweaks and customers started to respond positively. Though we have been growing by an average of over 100 percent since 2018, we all realize we have miles to go before we sleep.”
Cohort participant Simeon Sessley, a 1998 graduate of Morehouse and founding partner of the burgeoning corporate learning and development technology firm Advisory Trail, said his MIEC training opened the door to a network of language translators that were key to growing his business. “It helped me to gain access to other businesses that I should be partnering with,” Sessley said. “I would not have had access to those businesses without MIEC.”