San Francisco, CA-based, a nonprofit organization supporting the startup journey of HBCU students and alumni, HBCU Founders Initiative (HBCUFI), announced a collaboration with UNCF TechVentures. Together, the partners launched the HBCU Pre-Accelerator program on July 26, 2022. 

Purpose of the HBCU Pre-Accelerator Program

The purpose of the HBCU Pre-Accelerator program is to scale entrepreneurial education and training across HBCU campuses. It seeks to offer dedicated support to on-campus pre-accelerator programs that support entrepreneurship and the launch of student-led ventures. 

7 HBCUs, including Bowie State University, Elizabeth City State University, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T University, Oakwood University, Prairie View A&M, and Spelman College, will comprise the cohort of the startups included in the program. 

About the Program

Each campus is expected to host two eight-week pre-accelerators (one in the fall and one in the spring). The program includes approximately five startups per cohort belonging to the early-stage founders. These startups are past the ideation stage and ready to validate a problem and build an MVP. 

The HBCU Pre-Accelerator program will cover a wide array of topics such as validating the idea, building a prototype, customer discovery, marketing and branding, legal operations, and fundraising. The course offers weekly virtual cohort sessions with on-campus planned activities. 

The Initiative also offers access to office hours to the participants with advisors who will help the budding entrepreneurs. 

HBCUFI is already accepting applications for the fall pre-accelerator. HBCU students belonging to the seven participating schools are encouraged to apply. Meanwhile, the course will review the applications of the alumni. However, current HBCU students may be given special consideration. Besides, HBCU students who do not belong to the participating schools can apply for the virtual fall program.

What the HBCUFI officials have to say

HBCUFI President, Marlon Evans, said, “Adding an in-person component to our work is essential in ensuring the long-term sustainability of our efforts. By building local capacity, we will be helping to foster a culture of innovation on campus and in the surrounding community. Ultimately, we hope to establish dedicated acceleration programming at dozens of HBCUs. We seek to launch hundreds of African American-led startups that attract millions of dollars of investment capital and, in so doing, create thousands of jobs on an annual basis. SMBs are the lifeblood of our economy, creating two-thirds of net new jobs and 44% of all US economic activity. We believe our virtual and in-person startup acceleration programming will impact financial inclusion and empowerment.”

HBCUFI Founding Partner, Franklin Templeton, intends to support the pre-accelerators at Morgan State and North Carolina A&T University. 

Speaking on the recent development, Regina Curry, Chief Diversity Officer at Franklin Templeton, said, “As a founding partner, Franklin Templeton has worked for hand in hand with HBCUFI to inform the fintech program offerings and provide support to new entrepreneurs. This program is a great opportunity for students at HBCUs to expand their knowledge of the startup landscape and develop key skills they will need in their entrepreneurial journeys and broader careers.”

What the UNCF TechVentures has to say

UNCF TechVentures is a tech-focused entrepreneurial education and training program for African-American students. These students are the participants in UNCF STEM programs. 

Dr Chad Womack, Vice President of National STEM Programs and Tech Initiatives at UNCF, commented, “At UNCF, a core part of our mission is to support our institutions in their efforts to build capacity and help them to achieve their goals of becoming hubs and nodes of innovation and entrepreneurship that will have a local and regional economic impact. We are excited about our partnership with HBCUFI and the HBCU Pre-Accelerator Program, as it represents a unique opportunity to scale entrepreneurial education and training across HBCU campuses and to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset among our students. Further, this partnership expands our ability to cultivate the extraordinary talent that exists on our campuses.”

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Jasleen Bhatia works as a content writer for VCBay News. She is pursuing her final semester in Bachelor of Business Administration from IIPS, DAVV. Driven by her keen interest in entrepreneurship and finance, she writes business-related articles.


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