For college juniors and seniors on the verge of graduation, steady employment is not a guarantee in the current credit crisis, especially with news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the number of unemployed people increased by 632,000 to 11.1 million and the unemployment rate rose to 7.2%.
For Don Coleman, founder and chairman of GlobalHue (No. 1 on the 2008 B.E. Advertising Agencies list), this news only solidifies the idea that self employment is the solution. To put money behind his convictions, Coleman established the Coleman Entrepreneurial Scholarship to provide financial aid to juniors and seniors enrolled in an entrepreneurial studies program at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) or Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).
Up to 20 scholarships of $5,000 each will be awarded for educational expenses to full-time college juniors or seniors majoring or concentrating in entrepreneurship for use in the 2009-2010 academic year.
“I believe that the lifeblood of the black community lies in entrepreneurship,” Coleman says. “When you look at the present landscape, corporations are downsizing, manufacturing jobs are going away, and a large part of the people affected is African American.”
According to the most recent non-employer statistics published by the U.S. Census Bureau, on average, 2,356 people go into business for themselves every day. These firms account for 78% of U.S. businesses and $951 billion in receipts.
“I’m especially excited about the scholarship program because this is my peer group,” says Coleman’s daughter, Kelli Coleman, vice president of business development at GlobalHue and a 2006 college graduate. “I am really excited to see this kick off. I know the talent that is out there among the youth community.”
Even those who haven’t entered the working world are being affected by the market slump. According to Diverse Issues in Higher Education, the frozen credit markets have affected the ability of HBCUs to provide student aid to those who are already financially burdened.
“A large number of our students have financial needs. Therefore any kind of financial assistance will help them tremendously,” says Thaddeus McEwen, a professor in the department of management in the School of Business and Economic Studies at North Carolina A&T, one of the 20 business schools that the Coleman Scholarship will target.
Coleman says that students interested in starting small businesses should look at the credit crisis as an opportunity and not a problem. He believes that there are more opportunities for small businesses to obtain contracts in this environment then there was in a more thriving corporate environment.
“Corporate downsizing has gotten rid of a lot of people, but still the [day-to-day] business of the corporation must continue,” Coleman says. “They need someone to do that business, [but] they just don’t want them on the payroll and they don’t want to have to pay benefits. That is where entrepreneurial companies come in. If you can structure a company that can help fill the void, then you have a viable opportunity to help build a