Sen. John Kerry
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, has introduced the Minority Entrepreneurship and Innovation Pilot Program to encourage small business growth among minority populations nationwide.
The legislation creates a $24 million grant program to develop entrepreneurial curricula at historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions. The bill also will place a business counseling center on the campus of the institutions receiving the grants to help local businesses.
"Growing existing minority firms and promoting entrepreneurship among minority college students will have a significant impact on the employment rate, income levels and wealth creation of minorities throughout the nation," Kerry said.
In 2005, African Americans accounted for 12.3 percent of the U.S. population and only 4 percent of businesses. Hispanic Americans represented 12.5 percent of the population and approximately 6 percent of businesses. Native Americans comprised 1 percent of the population and less than 1 percent of all businesses.
Further, the Urban League's 2005 State of Black America report described a growing "wealth gap" for minorities, showing that there is a demonstrated need for an expansion of entrepreneurial education and outreach within these communities.
"There is a clear correlation between the growth of minority-owned firms and the economic vitality of minority communities," Kerry said. "This program will help to target students in highly skilled fields ... and guide them towards entrepreneurship as a career option.
"Promoting entrepreneurial education to undergraduate students at these colleges and universities has the potential to expand minority business ownership in technology, financial services, legal services and other areas in which the overall development of minority firms has been slow," Kerry added.