About the Institute


The African American Entrepreneurship Institute‘s vision is be the catalyst for intellectual exchange, education, and entrepreneurial wealth-building. The Institute connects models of entrepreneurship to timeless community values.


Our mission is to create experiences that inspire, educate, and empower current and future African American entrepreneurs to become successful small business owners. We provide an open forum for reaching, connecting, and positively impacting small businesses owners, families, communities, and the ecosystem that supports them.

Our Approach


Access to Capital






After examining the African American small business landscape, Main Street Launch partnered with the Citi Foundation and Wells Fargo to focus on serving and accelerating the growth and stability of African American entrepreneurs. Through philanthropic funding provided by both partners, Main Street Launch introduced the African American Entrepreneur Institute in 2017.

Our partners’ generous seed funding created an opportunity to deepen our existing work with the African American small business community. Our work is focused on reducing the racial wealth gap through business ownership. The Institute focuses on reducing structural barriers that impede access to capital, resources, and wealth creation for African American entrepreneurs.

The Institute’s strategy is designed to deliver affordable financial capital, programs that educate and inspire small business owners, partnerships that elevate small business ecosystem effectiveness, and research that examines trends and events that can impact future business growth and sustainability.

Courtney Smith (right) and his team with Warriors center Kevon Looney and Mariah Simone.
Courtney Smith (right), Entrepreneur in Residence alumnus, and his team with Warriors center Kevon Looney and Mariah Simone.

Core Values

Since its inception in 1979, Main Street Launch has been an organization that defines itself by fundamental values–not products, technologies or leaders. Today, shared values are more essential than ever before for enterprises, for individuals, and for the globally integrating societies of the 21st century. In the spirit of our founding organization, the Institute has defined its core values and they now serve as the foundation of the Institute’s culture and brand, and the guide for each professional‘s work, decisions, and relationships.

    • Dedication
    • Diversity
    • Empowerment
    • Innovation
    • Equity

Meet our Entrepreneurs-In-Residence

Courtney Smith (right) and his team with Warriors center Kevon Looney and Mariah Simone.

Support Our Clients

Investing in Future Leaders

Main Street Launch Entrepreneurship Scholarship

In partnership with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women – Oakland/Bay Area Chapter, Main Street Launch is proud to offer scholarships to rising high school seniors and early college students interested in pursuing careers in entrepreneurship.

Applications are now closed.

2022 NCBW Scholarship Application FINAL

Institute Partners