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5 mins read

The Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship: Creating Moguls not Mixtapes

The Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship is focused on increasing economic opportunity by using Hip hop to provide hands-on business training to members of low-income groups. 

The nine month program, forged by Little Giant Creative, uses Hip hop’s best practices to “empower enterprising young people from nontraditional backgrounds with the skills necessary to take an idea and make it a reality.”


We caught up with co- founder, Tayyib Smithand this is what he had to say:

tayyibSB: What is it that inspired the creation of the Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship?

TS: First, life experience. I don’t know of anything that’s encouraged more people to embrace fiscal literacy or financial independence or create their own businesses than Hip-hop.


Secondly, almost two years ago, I was invited to a retreat at Place Lab Chicago hosted by Theaster Gates via The Knight Foundation.

They had an exercise asking for  three ideas from our personal experience that would have a positive impact on communities. This was one of the three ideas that I had offered. When the Knight City Challenge came up, we submitted it as an idea.


SB: You won over $300,000 from the Knight City Challenge for the Institute.  What exactly does the money go towards?

TS: The bulk of the money goes to hiring staff to create the curriculum. It’s a nine-month long program and we have a considerable amount of facilitators, teachers, guest lecturers.


We’re not charging any tuition to the students, so over nine months for 25 people, $300,000 is not a significant amount as much money as it sounds.


SB: Nowadays, it seems that artists are more interested in partnering with record labels as opposed to the 360 deal where the label or management is getting a percentage from majority if not all of the artists work. Are artists now becoming more hip to the business side of things?

TS:  I would say the successful artists that we’ve heard of are the ones that are thoughtful like that. The ones who are living hand to mouth are most likely  still thinking about a traditional record deal or a 360.


Many of the new generation of artist are taking advantage of the zero cost of distribution for creative intellectual property via advancements in technology that didn’t exist less than a decade ago.


They may give away a song or album for free but they are enhancing and elevating their brands to convince fans to make a purchase of a t-shirt, hat, concert ticket etc.


SB: Students at the Institute are going to be mentored by the best and the brightest. How important is mentorship to you and what makes a good mentor?

TS: I think mentorship is really important and I think we don’t do enough of it. A good mentor is somebody who is engaged, who listens, who can share from personal experience, and be empathetic. Sometimes it’s somebody who can just identify with you.


Mentorship is also a two-way street. There are times when I’ve mentored people and felt like the experience was as valuable for me as it was for them.

SB: What advice would you have for the aspiring entrepreneur?

TS: Anytime an aspiring entrepreneur asks me for advice, I tell them to work with people who are as good or better than them.


Nothing is more important than the actual work that you’re going to be known for. Equally important is having a stellar reputation and building the relationships and social capital that will resonate with future colleagues and clients early in your career.  I think personal reputation is one of those important parts of personal branding.
I believe in  due diligence, building an outstanding  team and research. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to travel around as much as you can, explore new and challenging opportunities.
Also, study the history of the industry or profession that you desire a position in. Not just the contemporary or what’s trendy now, but the fundamental  history from inception.
The nine month program begins on November 12th 2016


-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson

1 min read

Nigerian Billionaire, Tony Elumelu announces the 2nd Round of his $100m Entrepreneurship Programme

Last year, Tony Elumelu, a philanthropist and one of Africa's most successful businessmen, announced the creation of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) for emerging African entrepreneurs. The goal of the program is to help up to 10,000 African entrepreneurs develop their ideas into sustainable businesses.   In 2015, TEEP empowered 1,000 African entrepreneurs, selected from over 20,000 applicants, with start-up investment, active mentoring, business training, an entrepreneurship boot camp and regional networking across Africa. The foundation invested a total of $4,860,000, including $1,405,000 in agriculture; $410,000 in education and training; and $365,000 in manufacturing.  The program funded start-ups across

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