Doing the Greatest Good for Black Entrepreneurs

Lawrence Watkins in a suit smiling in front of a car

Lawrence Matthew Watkins MBA ’10. Photo provided

Lawrence Matthew Watkins MBA ’10 is a serial entrepreneur who is determined to elevate the economic power of the Black community.

“Black Americans have made significant political strides,” he says. “What’s missing from this progress is economic power, which I believe is the new Civil Rights struggle for this generation.”

In 2017, Watkins spearheaded this progress with his leadership at The Black Business School (BBS), a Black-owned online education company that provides the Black community with financial education opportunities that enhance wealth building and business creation.

Developing the intellectual capital and networks of students is a primary goal, says Watkins, who points out that these efforts aim to create $500 million in new wealth among BBS graduates by 2032. To drive this growth, classes and programs are made accessible by making them affordable.

“Top business schools offer an invaluable education and network that is personally paying off for me now,” he says. “But most people in the Black community will not have access to those types of opportunities.”

This accessibility also comes in the form of culturally relevant courses that create an educational experience that is authentically Black.

“There have been major strides to diversify the student bodies of business schools, but there is still a lag with tenured professors,” adds Watkins. To acknowledge this gap, BBS recruits the best Black financial experts to develop, publish, and teach their 75-course curricula, which collectively covers seven main tracks of wealth creation. Among these seven tracks is a dedicated focus on Black entrepreneurship and small businesses.

Many see the education offered by BBS as a life and death need, one that can impact financial sustainability for individuals and their families, says Watkins. This understanding is why the urgency of BBS’s mission is never lost on him. It is also why his focus on building the economic power of the Black community extends beyond his work with BBS.

Watkins, who is the publisher of Black Business Daily, a daily newsletter that curates top articles related to Black business and investing, ensures he can make a personal impact by first following his own advice for entrepreneurs—by trying something new.

“I realize I can make a wider impact by helping direct the flow of capital to excellent entrepreneurs who need it,” he says, noting his transition from entrepreneurship to private equity and venture capital. To Watkins, supporting Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned startups is a way he can personally invest in the development of the Black community.

As a Cornellian, it’s also how he believes he can do the greatest good for the world.

Celebrating Black entrepreneurs and innovation
The Cornell SC Johnson College of Business is celebrating Black History Month by sharing stories of Black entrepreneurs from across the college’s student and alumni communities. To read more stories from this celebration, go to ow.ly/NZJ450HJOlm.