Technology giant Cisco has made a $5 million commitment to the Black Economic Alliance (BEA) to help the next generation of Black entrepreneurs at Atlanta-based HBCUs.
AfroTech reports $4 million in direct grants and technical services will go to the Center for Black Entrepreneurship (CBE). The other $1 million will go to the BEA entrepreneurs fund. Also supporting the effort are the Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Mastercard.
Atlanta has three HBCUs, Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. Through the initiative, graduate-level students at these schools will receive business knowledge, access to venture capital and mentorship programs.
“We’ve been honored to receive the support and partnership of Cisco and other major corporate entities,” BEA Foundation President, Samantha Tweedy, told AfroTech. “Their belief in the Center for Black Entrepreneurship’s mission of equipping the next generation of Black founders with both the training and resources needed to succeed is not only encouraging, it’s game-changing. Anchored by a $10 million contribution from Bank of America, the Center for Black Entrepreneurship’s chief goal is to eliminate the access barrier between Black entrepreneurs, professional investors, and business leaders by leveraging education, mentorship, access to capital, and opportunity to help a new class of Black entrepreneurs thrive.”
The number of Black entrepreneurs and business owners fell by 40% during the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, many Black men and women took advantage of the pandemic to reset their careers and start their own businesses and today Black-owned businesses are now 30% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
Additionally, Cisco will donate $1 million in technology products and services to all three Atlanta area HBCUs, which Tweedy believes will close the racial technology gap and will empower Black entrepreneurs.
“In working with our funding partners, we are strengthening the ecosystem for aspiring Black entrepreneurs and are providing them with the connections to both corporate and venture capital funding that is often difficult to attain. Cisco’s substantial commitment is a standout example of how corporations can put real investment behind drivers of tangible, meaningful change,” Tweedy