The McNair Center for Entrepreneurism was created to sustain an entrepreneurial ecosystem within the College that provides education, apprenticeships, mentoring, capital access and professional skills development to students. It is dedicated to disseminating best practices for this ecosystem development to other small to mid-size higher education institutions.
One of Six
The McNair Center for Entrepreneurism is one of six centers of excellence of its kind across the United States and was made possible through a generous gift provided by the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation.
As part of the College’s Institute for Leadership & Professional Excellence, the McNair Center serves both undergraduate and graduate students, in addition to connecting with regional entrepreneurial and innovation communities.
There are four main components to the services of the McNair Center:
- McNair Entrepreneurship Fellows
The McNair Entrepreneurship Fellowship is a unique and customized scholars program for Columbia College students. Fellows participate in academic coursework focused on entrepreneurism, business modeling and design, professional skills, and engage in a capstone apprenticeship. Fellows are paired with a practicing entrepreneur mentor and join in boot camps and other speaker series and lifelong learning programming. Study away and summer applied learning opportunities are also part of the program.
- Micro Seed Fund
The Micro Seed Fund is a strategic, financial resource for students and alumni of Columbia College that is meant to kickstart the development of their idea, planning, and success. There are specific criteria for selection and award, supported by the McNair Entrepreneurship Cabinet.
- Entrepreneur-Mentor Network
The Columbia College Entrepreneur-Mentor Network serves to connect students with mentors from year one of a student’s college experience. Female entrepreneurs and professionals with a budding or proven interest in entrepreneurism will come together to support and advise Fellows and students at each stage of their learning process, but particularly in their apprenticeship work.
- McNair Entrepreneurship Cabinet
The McNair Entrepreneurship Cabinet serves the McNair Center and its students in a volunteer advisory capacity, directing connections into the entrepreneurial community, advising the faculty and staff at the College, while supporting the selection of the Micro Seed Fund disbursements. The Cabinet represents a diverse makeup of industry sectors and members have the ability to provide pro-bono advisement to the College and its students.
The McNair Center for Entrepreneurism also coordinates the South Carolina Women's Entrepreneurship Network. The McNair Center is an affiliate partner of Kaffuman FastTrac and The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and YESCarolina.