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NFL Veteran is Builds Minority Entrepreneurship Institute  

2024-02-25 – BE&O RYB

Founded by NFL player Jaylon Smith, the Minority Entrepreneurship Institute is working to close the economic and educational gap in minority communities through entrepreneurship.

Smith, who played in college for the University of Notre Dame and in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, says the Minority Entrepreneurship Institute is his way of giving back to his Fort Wayne, Indiana community. “My purpose beyond athletics is to close the wealth gap.”  

The organization started five years ago and, to date, has invested over 1.2 million dollars in 12 companies started by local entrepreneurs. Smith says he saw a need to start the institute when he noticed a lack of financial funding and resources in minority communities. He says people have the desire and will to start their own companies; they often just lack access to knowledge and resources. 

An entrepreneur himself, Smith also invests in venture capital firms and real estate, and he owns an eyewear line. He also plans to bring a Jinya Ramen Bar franchise to Indianapolis in the coming years.

Smith says he’s wanted to be a business owner since he was 11 years old and has chased that dream through his NFL career. Playing professional football has helped him manage people and build successful teams. “I never wanted to be remembered as just a great football player,” he says.