University of Houston SURE Program Profiled by Houston Chronicle
Lydia DePillis of the Houston Chronicle recently sat down with Dr. Saleha Khumawala, professor at the University of Houston C.T. Bauer College of Business, to discuss her work with the SURE program: Stimulating Urban Renewal through Entrepreneurship.
The SURE program, created and run by Dr. Khumawala, matches MBA students with local entrepreneurs to help them get their new business up and running. SURE began from student interest in 2012 and was launched full-scale after a successful pilot program in the Greater East End.
SURE pairs students with entrepreneurs from the community that are committed to starting their own business but don’t have the business skills to launch or scale their ventures. In particular, the program tries to focus on typically ‘under-resourced’ populations that may not have the capital or network to turn their ideas into a reality. The program aims to boost minority populations that may be typically overlooked in business; just this semester, 80 percent of participants were African American.
Khumawala commented on the importance of using SURE to help the local community, and indeed all of the participating businesses that have become successful through the program have remained local. This is just one of the many ways that UH gives back to the community, in addition to programs such as the Community Design Resource Center at the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design and a free legal clinic at the Law Center.
Although SURE does not give out money itself to entrepreneurs, the programs success has allowed them to build positive relationships with the lenders in the community. After the 14 weeks of the program, entrepreneurs must be prepared to pitch their business plan to a number of local and national banks that can help with capital.