In Class News

July 12, 2016 at 3:51 pm

New Course Offered on African-American Entrepreneurship

Portrait Of Male Owner Standing In Gift Store

Portrait Of Male Owner Standing In Gift Store

By Kristin M. Distel

In Fall 2016, the African American Studies Department is offering a new course designed to teach Ohio University students the logistics of opening their own businesses.

AAS 4900: Special Topics in Black Entrepreneurship gives students extensive experience with every step of creating a business enterprise.

The course, which is open to both current students and alumni, is taught by Dr. Craig Jenkins. The course emphasizes “technique development, entrepreneurial education and mentorship, leadership and network building, venture creation, and business model analysis,” as well as marketing, entrepreneurial psychology, and legal issues.

Jenkins explains that he designed this course with an eye toward “addressing the problems faced by underrepresented groups,” such as African-American entrepreneurs. The course’s emphasis on building networks and alliances helps prepare students for the unique challenges that African-American entrepreneurs often face.

AAS 4900: Special Topics in Black Entrepreneurship meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 12:55 to 1:50 p.m. Enrollment for the course is now open. OHIO’s Office of the Registrar is able to assist current students and alumni with registration.

Building ‘An Enterprise from Scratch’

“The students will be expected to go through the mechanics of creating an enterprise from scratch: identify a need or market opportunity, decide how to fill that need, prepare a business plan, identify possible sources of funds, and pitch their idea or ideas to possible investors,” Jenkins remarks.

As part of their research, students also may identify, meet with, and interview local business owners. The purpose of these interviews, Jenkins explains, is to help familiarize students with the intersection between race and entrepreneurship.

“Research shows modern African-Americans have less historical experience with running or owning their own businesses,” Jenkins states. “The interview should identify for students the pitfalls in assuming the responsibility of starting and operating a business and begin to fill the gaps resulting from the lack of experience and exposure in this area.”

Jenkins’s Comprehensive Experience

Jenkins, who has practiced law in Pennsylvania and holds a Ph.D. in physics, has been at OHIO since 2006, when he began teaching business law courses. He has since begun teaching law-related courses in the African American Studies Department.

“Because of my own questions about entrepreneurship and capital formation, which is a larger problem facing the African-American business community, I developed an interest in understanding entrepreneurship,” Jenkins says.

Jenkins designed the Special Topics in Black Entrepreneurship course at the request of department chair Dr. Robin Muhammad. In Spring 2017, Jenkins will combine his areas of expertise in teaching a course that emphasizes the underrepresentation of African Americans in STEM fields.

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