This HBCU-Alum Shares How Early Failures Inspired Her To Create A $500k Scholarship Program For Black Students

Growing up, Velma Trayham, PhD couldn’t have fathomed she’d be making millions of dollars. 

The Houston, Texas native was born into poverty and often saw her family and peers struggling to make ends meet. Through that early exposure to struggle, she vowed to use education as a way out, and up. 

After graduating from Texas Southern University in 2008 with a degree in business, she transitioned into the corporate space, but quickly realized that wasn’t the place for her. 

“I’ve only had two jobs in my life,” she shared with Essence. “Out of college, I worked with Google for nine months, then transitioned into another role with a collections firm.” 

Through that work, she said she saw the effects of what financial inequity can do to a person’s life. It was then she decided to strike out on her own aim to achieve financial freedom as an entrepreneur. The road was not a smooth one, though. 

“My first three companies failed,” she shared. “So as you can probably imagine when going through those failures, I thought, man, well, is the job route for me? And everyone continues to tell me, my family, you need to just get a job.” 

Despite differing opinions, she forged forward with building her own business. Years later, she’s the founder and CEO of Thinkzilla, a brand engagement firm that supports small businesses in their growth journey. 

Now, she’s helping aspiring young women entrepreneurs get what they need to drive success. 

Trayham recently announced her $500,000 scholarship fund to support Black women entrepreneurs across the country. The fund, one component of her Millionaire Mastermind Entrepreneur Accelerator Program this spring, aims to equip students with financial and mentorship support. 

According to a news release, the accelerator program provides business training, and access to funding growth opportunities for minority business owners and has helped more than 7,000 women nationwide gain the education they need to succeed in business. The accelerator program runs from March 8th through June 14th and is available online or in-person in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Scholarship and program applications are now being accepted here. The Millionaire Mastermind Academy has previously awarded $60,000 in scholarships and more than $30,000 in seed funding to help women entrepreneurs create successful sustainable business enterprises.

“I want to continue to inspire the next generation to dream and by not being afraid to fail can lead to your greatest success.” 

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