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Elevate Black Entrepreneurs Scholarship

Funded by
user profile avatar
Calvin Rosser
1 winner$996
Next Application Deadline
Jul 1, 2021
Next Winners Announced
Jul 31, 2021
Education Level
Undergraduate, Graduate
Recent scholarship winners

Talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not.

Although African-Americans comprise 13.4% of the US population, just 1% of start-ups receiving venture funding have Black founders.

While entrepreneurship is one of the most impactful ways to move communities and the country forward, the pipeline of funded entrepreneurs does not reflect the diversity of our country.

And since the focus of funded start-ups tends to reflect the experience of their founders, lack of representation means blindspots in innovation. Critical, solvable problems go unaddressed. Concurrently, funding often flows in favor of ideas for businesses in saturated markets with less potential for impact and scale.

Solving this problem will take deep dedication across the start-up, tech, and venture capital world. 

As one small part of this, the Elevate Black Entrepreneurs Scholarship will be awarded to a Black undergraduate or graduate school entrepreneur who is currently building or who aspires to build a new business.

Current or aspiring Black entrepreneurs across any field or business stage will be considered.

Winners will be selected on the merit of their business idea, and on the impact that additional support would have for them.

Selection Criteria:
Passion, Entrepreneur, Drive, Curiosity
Published January 24, 2021
Essay Topic

Please tell us about your story, your business (or business idea), and your goals. How did you become interested in entrepreneurship? What inspired you to pursue your business idea? What do you hope to achieve?

400–800 words

Winning Application

Merissa Khumalo
University of KentuckyLexington, KY
All 'The Tea' About the Ikhaya Collections Brand "It started with just wanting to make candles, which might light up the room and create “vibez”, or whatever. But, my LOUD inner voice told me, "it's your time to let your voice be heard"; and heard in a big way. Next thing I know I wanted to light up the world." I once heard a quote about discerning ‘good days’ from ‘bad days’. It said something like, “if you experience many emotions in one day, those are the best days”. I couldn't tell you when or where I heard it, or else I would give credit where credit is due, but you better believe, I came to realize this is pure FACTS! The days I smiled and laughed all day, and I cried and contemplated all night, ended up being the most transformative and meaningful days in my life. Yet, somehow I never was able to see my potential amongst these emotions. Not until I began to believe in myself, did I feel I could manifest a story so powerful that it could eventually help others reach theirs...and potentially change the world. Through physical and mental health battles--not to mention a disaster that goes by “2020”--I have spent many of my days in my home, picking and prodding at my potential and writing down every thought caged in this big head of mine (no really, have you seen it?). Within these reflections, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes (again, no idea who first said this), "Don't 'someday' yourself out of a lifetime. Make today someday". I decided a month ago to make every day count, and the Ikhaya Collections brand was born. But, why the name, "ikhaya"? Well, in short, I wanted to develop a brand that incorporates elements of my South African culture, and the word, "ikhaya", literally means, "home", in Zulu, the language of the tribe to which I belong. You'll notice other elements of my cultures throughout the brand and products. For example, in the original line of candles, the four scents are representative of my culture: Cape Breeze, referring to the breeze off the coast of Cape Town, SA; Warm Malva, my favorite South African dessert, similar to a sticky toffee pudding; Precious Protea, a nod to the national flower of SA, the protea; and finally Safari Sunset--quite little has compared to the views of a South African sunset while on safari. "'Ikhaya', extends beyond just the physical home and instead embodies the homes of all those co-existing in our shared home--planet earth." To be alive, is to be a part of this world, so, whether rich or poor, BIPOC or white, ill or able, we all share the undeniable reality that the earth is our home, and like any toxic relationship, you may still be together, but at least one person is suffering. Ikhaya Home Collections aims to take the pressure off 'our home', which is currently suffering from our environmental greed and abuse, by committing to ethical and environmental responsibility in our packaging and building sustainable products. "Not only do we care about all of the issues that affect our 'shared home', but our individual homes around the world; more specifically, our people. " Another major part of our mission is to support each other--in all that we are and all that we go through-- to get to where we want to be, together. As a black, woman, with a disability, I have inherited a handful of life-changing virtues, which I now live by. Here are 4: #1- You are an expert on your own life, so do not conform to what others have told you about yourself. #2- The only way to receive respect and recognition for what is important to you and yours is to be your own biggest supporter. #3-By nature, we are surrounded by people--help them, and let them help you. #4-What you do today might change your tomorrow, but if you do not make it to tomorrow, the potential of what you 'could have done' is irrelevant. As an advocate for all that is good for us, I want to inspire people to do everything possible to build positive relationships around our differences. Ikhaya desires to make our home a better place to live in, by first advocating for social justice and inspiring daily change, starting with the issues that affect the places and people we call 'home'. As a final question, "What does home mean to you?" I have always felt that if you do not let your story be told, you are discounting your identity and putting your potential on layaway. Well, like an abandoned Amazon cart, it's always there and steadily reminding you of its presence until you place your order.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jul 1, 2021. Winners will be announced on Jul 31, 2021.

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