While the talent of Black entrepreneurs is limitless, their access to what is necessary to reach success is often stunted. Within the movement of transforming the ecosystem, the Black Economic Alliance Foundation has joined a leading systems technology company to provide ample funding and support.

A Commitment For Black Entrepreneurship

In partnership with the BEA Foundation, Cisco has made a $5 million commitment to advance the next generation of Black entrepreneurs at Atlanta Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), according to a press release shared with AfroTech. Approximately $4 million in grants and direct technical services will go toward the Center for Black Entrepreneurship (CBE) and $1 million to the BEA Entrepreneurs Fund.

The new funding partnership comes after support from Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Mastercard.

A Statement From BEA Foundation President Samantha Tweedy

“We’ve been honored to receive the support and partnership of Cisco and other major corporate entities,” BEA Foundation President, Samantha Tweedy, shared with 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.”

She continued: “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.”

Expansion To Clark Atlanta University

In addition to the CBE programming at Morehouse College and Spelman College, a new graduate component has been added at Clark Atlanta University. Additionally, the CBE programming will include an online component that offers upskilling training to a broad global audience, Tweedy shared with us. Through the programming, graduate-level students will have access to more knowledge about business, access to VC and private equity leaders, and mentorship programs. 

“Through the CBE, we want to reach as many budding Black entrepreneurs as possible,” Tweedy said to AfroTech. “That ranges from people who are mid-way through their academic development in undergrad to those who have already graduated school and want to advance their careers by obtaining a graduate-level certificate or degree.”

“The addition of Clark Atlanta’s graduate program to the CBE brings us that much closer,” she added. “We’re also building on Clark Atlanta’s legacy of providing higher education opportunities for Black Americans for over 150 years. Their predecessor institution, Atlanta University, was the first HBCU in the nation to award graduate degrees to Black Americans.”

Cisco To Donate Technology

What’s more, Cisco is donating $1 million in technology products and services to the three Atlanta HBCUs, which Tweedy believes will “bridge any existing gaps and equip them with the base infrastructure necessary to build a robust aspect of CBE programming.”

The technology is set to empower Black entrepreneurs who are involved in certifications in project management, data science, coding, and cybersecurity.