Make Your Mark
Cummins Invests in the Future of 12 Black Female Entrepreneurs through Grant Program
“Cummins was built on excellence, diversity and inclusion,” said Helena Hutton, Cummins Senior Director, Strategic Purchasing, Center of Excellence – Supplier Diversity. “In fact, they are a couple of the company’s core values which describes this program. Cummins has consistently advocated for more equitable and inclusive communities and sees our partnership with WBENC as an effort to provide Black female entrepreneurs access to capital; a segment of our population often overlooked.”
Cummins invested $50,000 in its pipeline of Black women-owned small businesses through the new Make Your Mark initiative. This initiative called on Black student female business owners in STEM fields who sustainably use and protect our planet’s resources to apply. More than 60 did just that. In November of 2020 Cummins and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) announced the recipients of the inaugural WBENC Cummins Grant for Black Student Female business owners, awarding 12 promising entrepreneurs grants of up to $6,000 each.
The new grant initiative demonstrates Cummins’ commitment to investing in innovative independent small businesses and future business owners. In 2019 Black women entrepreneurs launched more small businesses than any other group. While the number of women-owned business grew 21% in 2019, businesses owned by women of color grew at 43% — more than double the rate. Through the Make Your Mark Initiative, Cummins specifically targets Black female business owners to further support the growth and future of diverse small businesses.
In October 2020 more than 60 college-level Black women students and business owners from 23 states and Canada submitted their applications for consideration. Committee members from Cummins reviewed all applications and interviewed candidates to determine the final award recipients and amounts received. Committee members from Cummins included: Helena Hutton, Stacy Webb-Cooper, Chidinma Ezekwem, Rosemary James, Latishia Naidoo, Courtney McCoy; with support from Cortney Hamment, Hollin Bolden, and Latonya Sisco. Recipients celebrated and presented their company information to Cummins leaders at a reception held on December 14, 2020. Guest speakers at the reception included Jim Gruwell, Suzanne Wells, and Jane Beaman.