Message From Our President

Message From Our President

Urban League Ecosystem: Launchpad for Minority Entrepreneurs

  • by HAUL
  • Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Houston Area Urban League (HAUL) believes that everyone in our community should have the chance to move forward in economic and educational status, no matter where they started out in life. This is the foundation of our mission as we strive to make a difference in the lives of those seeking equality. Through your support, we have been able to do this through educational programs, housing programs, health outreach, economic development and job training, and more recently, through our entrepreneurship center.

Since 1968, we have worked to improve the standard of living in under-served urban communities and to create economic empowerment. For many of those years, starting a small business was a mere dream or aspiration for the individual clients and the families we serve. Then, in 2011, things begin to change. Under the National Urban League Entrepreneurship Center program, we opened the doors to the business incubator at 1301 Texas Avenue. In doing so, we’ve been able to provide over 5,000 minority entrepreneurs with access to counseling, mentoring, and the training needed to start or scale a business.

The HAUL Entrepreneurship Center is now in its 8th year of operation. Through our Small Business University (SBU) we've been able to provide a turnkey solution that meets the needs of the client through curriculum based training, access to community based subject matter experts, technical assistance and help obtaining the necessary resources needed to grow in our local economy.

After overseeing 16 cohorts, we are proud of the progress we've made in the entrepreneurship space. We've seen the difference it can make when the non-traditional entrepreneur has guided access to resources available to start a business. From the husband and wife team (Hospitality Cleaning) that was able to leverage the platform to get certified and obtain procurement contracts with the Port of Houston; to Tiffany Williams, a millennial and female entrepreneur, that was able to launch a successful media company (Twice Media) in her mid 20’s now located inside the business incubator, and more recently, Deidre Mathis, the founder of the first black hostel in the United States (Wanderstay Hotels), and the countless other graduates of SBU that now have an Urban League story. Through each shared experience, we’ve been able to build an ecosystem for minority entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses together. Now, what was once an unattainable dream for most in our community, has become a reality for many of the clients we serve at 1301 Texas Avenue.

Currently we have 75 entrepreneurs participating in cohort #17 of SBU. They each dream differently and have individual obstacles they must overcome before they can start running a business. In our ecosystem, that’s okay. We take pride in meeting the community where they’re at on the journey. Because, it’s not where you started, it’s how you finish... And we continually grow this ecosystem, that's the message for any entrepreneur that is seeking guidance on how to take their businesses to the next level.

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The mission of the Houston Area Urban League is to enable African Americans and other minorities to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.

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