Many years before Uber and Lyft, there were jitney cabs: ride-share services created by and for black Americans discriminated against by taxi companies. It was a business idea that originated in the black community, as well as an innovation in the marketplace. It’s also just one example of a successful black industry excluded from the narrative of the business world. Even at Harvard Business School, the successes of black entrepreneurs were largely invisible in business case studies. Fewer than 80 out of 10,000 business cases taught to students featured black business leaders — until Steven Rogers took action. He was eager to partner with Baker Library to help students realize the value of data to support their business ideas.
Professor Rogers created the “Black Business Leaders and Entrepreneurship” course to highlight the accomplishments of black protagonists and to identify, celebrate, and recognize black brilliance. In addition to studying business cases, students in the course are also challenged to find markets in the black community that are not being served. They are asked to come up with an idea and a solid business plan for a product or service that addresses a proven need.