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Unlocking Entrepreneurial Potential: A Journey through the Business Development Certificate Program

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Center for Professional Development

Announcement  •
Academics  •

Among many programs supporting immigrants and refugees in Denver, one program stands apart in helping those with an entrepreneurial focus. The Business Development Certificate through University of Denver’s Center for Professional Development teaches immigrant and refugee students how to navigate the unique business and legal landscape of the U.S. in order to pursue their dreams. Recently the program highlighted the progress of several students in its second annual Pitch Day, when each aspiring businessperson took the stage to share their personal story and present the business plan and pitch they had honed over the previous 12 weeks in the program.


Global Impact, Local Roots
The program addresses a significant trend in the U.S.: immigrants, representing only 13% of the population, account for 27.5% of the country's entrepreneurs. The Business Development Certificate Program creates an inclusive space for immigrants and refugees to explore and realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

From its 2020 inception via a collaboration with the World Trade Center Denver, the program has served 48 students, offering tailored support to navigate the complex path of business development. The program serves participants from a remarkable array of 20 countries, including Mexico, Democratic Republic of Congo, Honduras, Kenya, Serbia, Ghana, Afghanistan, Turkey, India, Tajikistan, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Morocco, Tanzania, Iran, Brazil, and Peru. As the program evolved, it not only garnered recognition but also expanded its reach. The fourth cohort, participating in the fall of 2023, accepted students working with community partners across the Denver metro area, extending beyond the original WTC partnership.


Instructor Excellence and Accessible Learning
Central to the program's success are the instructors, seasoned industry leaders, business owners, and mentors. Their wealth of experience extends not only to the subject matter but also to understanding the unique challenges faced by immigrant and refugee communities in Colorado. Their mentorship enriches the program, providing students with real-world insights and guidance.

The program is offered at no cost to participants, in order to dismantle financial barriers that often hinder access to learning and economic mobility. Recognizing the diverse backgrounds of its students, the program ensures accessibility for those just beginning their journey in the United States or navigating the complexities of the immigrant experience.


Diverse Student Journey, Holistic Learning
The Fall 2023 cohort reflected the diversity intrinsic to the program. Ranging from individuals who have been in the United States for 13 years to those who arrived just six months prior, the cohort mirrored the rich tapestry of immigrant experiences.
Over 12 weeks, students delved into four subject areas:

  • Business Plan Development
  • Financial Planning
  • Legal Considerations
  • Developing a Brand and Marketing Plan

This holistic curriculum equips participants with the skills and knowledge needed to not only survive but thrive in the competitive business landscape.


Pitching Dreams, Sharing Stories
The program’s teachings culminate on Pitch Day, which for this cohort took place on November 16. Each student took the stage to present business pitches and share their personal stories. Beyond showcasing the concepts learned, the students shared who they are, the journey that led them to this pivotal moment, and the inspiration fueling their business goals. From an established luxury leather goods company securing a brick-and-mortar location in Denver, to a new cabinetry business just getting off the ground, the students’ business pitches highlighted their passions, connections, and bravery.

In every pitch and every story, the Business Development Certificate Program unfolds as a beacon of empowerment, breaking down barriers and nurturing the dreams of a new generation of entrepreneurs. As the program continues to grow and evolve, it proves that entrepreneurship knows no boundaries and that every individual, regardless of their background, has the potential to make a lasting impact.


How You Can Contribute: Join Us or Support Our Cause
As we celebrate the success of the Fall 2023 cohort, we extend an invitation to individuals passionate about fostering entrepreneurship. If you (or someone you know) is eager to build skills and add to your business development toolkit, CPD is actively seeking participants for our upcoming fifth cohort in early February. Join us and be part of a community dedicated to unlocking entrepreneurial potential.

Additionally, for those who recognize the importance of our mission and wish to contribute to these individuals’ continued success, we welcome gifts to sustain this invaluable program. Your support ensures that barriers to learning and economic mobility are dismantled, providing opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to thrive.

To learn more about our next cohort or contribute to our cause, visit our website or contact us at Together, let's shape a future where entrepreneurship knows no bounds.