The Chamber’s fifth annual MBA Case Competition featured pitches from innovative students at NYU, Rice University and Temple University.
Washington, D.C. - The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation hosted its 5th Annual MBA Case Competition, offering a combined total of $20,000 in prize money to students presenting solutions to real-world challenges facing the business community. This year's competition focused on finding solutions to close America's entrepreneurship gap by increasing access to capital for Black entrepreneurs.
Kelsey Davis, Forbes 30U30 recipient and Founder/CEO of CLLCTVE, was invited by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation to deliver a keynote speech highlighting her journey to founding a tech startup, as well as CLLCTVE’s mission to democratizing the Future of Work for Black creators and entrepreneurs.
The case competition featured three teams from Temple University, Rice University and New York University, each presenting localized approaches to increasing access to capital for Black entrepreneurs.
The winning team from Rice University received $10,000 in prize money, after presenting a plan to combat the lack of financial resources, mentorship and guidance provided to Black founders from both Venture Capitalist funds and banks.
The team identified Tulsa, Oklahoma as the perfect location to build Black wealth, due to its rich history of Black entrepreneurship on Black Wall Street, prior to the Tulsa Massacre of 1921. It also highlighted the city’s current largely young and Black population that is leading to a growing number of Black-owned businesses in the city, as well as its low real estate prices, tax benefits and limited ‘red tape’.
In the MBA Case Competition, the winning students proposed the Tulsa Racial Equity Engagement (TREE): a holistic program including transparent tiered lending, mentorship from the Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce, educational workshops and networking with fellow businesses. TREE is supplemented with the TREE Future Leader Program, a business innovation lab for Langston University students that provides funding for creative projects and startups, and connects students to internships.
Following the competition, Davis spoke of her experience building CLLCTVE, overcoming challenges to access capital, and building an equitable future for the creator economy.
CLLCTVE was founded on the principle that every human is a creator.
"Our ability to solve problems and think critically in society and to ideate and execute and perform is something that just makes us different than a lion or a dog or a plant," said Davis. "If you as a human have the ability to monetize your human IP, you ultimately are a creator."
However, most creative opportunities are solely accessible in major coastal cities such as New York and Los Angeles, and are awarded primarily to creators with direct industry connections and college degrees.
"Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not," said Davis. "I'm sure that in all 50 states, there are super talented people in different cities, but that doesn't mean they all have the same access to information, opportunity, tools, resources and so on."
The solution? Build a bridge between brands and creators across the nation, fostering connections based on creators' unique talents, experience, interests and skills.
"There must be new systems that are being built and funded for People of Color and specifically Black people who are dealing with the effects of historic systematic exclusion," said Davis. "We need to crowdsource ideas, identify gaps and then actually fund resources to go into these communities and solve them."
Davis offered a piece of advice to young entrepreneurs looking to build solutions that work toward a more equitable Future of Work.
"Lean into your purpose. Lean into finding your gifts," said Davis. "Then think about how you can use these things, as well as your environment, to actually operationalize these ideas and bring them to life."
CLLCTVE (Techstars ‘20) is the portfolio platform connecting creators to their next opportunity. Our community-driven technology enables freelancers to build their own world online without creating any code, any website, or any resume - showcasing their creative capabilities and engaging with brands all in one place. With a community of thousands of creators, CLLCTVE matches brands and creators for opportunities based on brands' needs and creators' interests and experience.
Kaila Mathis, Growth Manager @ CLLCTVE