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Quest to Improve Entrepreneurial Studies at HBCUs to Include CEOs, Government Officials

Quest to Improve Entrepreneurial Studies at HBCUs to Include CEOs, Government Officials


      The dearth of entrepreneurship courses at historically Black colleges and universities led to the start six years ago of an annual business plan competition, designed to stimulate student interest in enterprise development. MBA students from HBCUs vie for scholarships each year in a competition to see who can come up with the best business concept and back it up with a sound business plan.

      This year, competition organizers are taking their goal of helping HBCUs produce the brightest entrepreneurial minds a step further, by convening a meeting of university presidents, senior federal officials and corporate CEOs to make policy recommendations designed to foster growth of entrepreneurial-development programs targeted toward Black students.

      The sixth annual competition, the OFC Venture Challenge, starts today and the inaugural National Policy Forum will be held Saturday, both in Atlanta.

      “In hosting this policy forum, we are taking the next step in ensuring our future African-American business leaders have the skills and education needed to compete in an ever-changing business world,” says Ike Harris, president of BellSouth Advertising & Publishing and chair of the Minority Entrepreneurship Education, Inc., the nonprofit organization hosting the competition.

      “Taking our policy forum findings to education and government leaders will be an important step in seeing that entrepreneur programs in our HBCUs continue to grow in the years to come,” Harris says.

      Scholarships worth $37,000 are up for grabs in this year’s Venture Challenge, which features MBA students from 18 HBCUs and faculty from 40 HBCUs.

      “The competition is unique in its efforts to bring MBA students from HBCUs together for a competition that is certain to give them needed experience prior to beginning their business careers,” Harris says.

      The business plan competition winner will move on to participate in an international competition sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin. For more information on the OFC Venture Challenge, visit the OFC Web site at

— By Toni Coleman

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