New supporters boost local minority and women entrepreneurs

Release Date: January 21, 2022

“Through the support of M&T Bank and Open4, we will continue to bring much-needed services and educational efforts to the small businesses that are the backbone of our community. ”
Paul Tesluk, Dean
University at Buffalo School of Management

BUFFALO, N.Y. —  Success in business requires smart planning, clear objectives and practical advice from trusted advisors—and local organizations have stepped up to sponsor two initiatives through the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) that will empower area minority and women entrepreneurs to achieve even more.

Through $50,000 in funding, M&T Bank will become the presenting sponsor of the M&T Bank Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs (MWEE) program, which has helped propel small businesses to the next stage of development since 2004.

In MWEE, each participant is assigned a mentor from the local business community to help devise realistic business goals and develop timetables and strategies for achieving them. Mentors meet regularly with participants, providing advice in strategic and tactical thinking, marketing, long-range financial planning and more.

MWEE participants also attend professionally facilitated classes where they learn to develop their business models, as well as “chalk talks” by subject matter experts in such areas as marketing, understanding financial reports and goal setting.

A total of 364 local entrepreneurs have completed MWEE since its inception. The Allstate Foundation had previously funded the program since 2005.

The CEL is also partnering with the Buffalo Urban League on a new Emerging Entrepreneur Accelerator—a nine-month training program for minority and women entrepreneurs in the pre-launch phase of starting a business.

In the accelerator, the Buffalo Urban League will connect these aspiring business owners with experienced coaches for customized attention to accelerate the successful launch, growth and scale of their company.

Participants will attend training sessions on topics key to starting a successful business, such as product development, marketing, finances, operating procedures, and employment law/compliance.

The Emerging Entrepreneurship Accelerator is supported by Open4, a partnership between M&T Bank, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, the John R. Oishei Foundation, KeyBank, Pegula Sports and Entertainment, the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation and the ESL Foundation that works to connect entrepreneurs and small businesses with the resources, support and guidance they need.

“Through the support of M&T Bank and Open4, we will continue to bring much-needed services and educational efforts to the small businesses that are the backbone of our community,” says Paul Tesluk, dean of the UB School of Management.

Established in 1987, the CEL provides participants with individualized and interactive education in entrepreneurship. More than 1,400 CEL alumni employ more than 23,000 Western New Yorkers, and their businesses are worth more than $2.3 billion to the local economy. For more information, visit

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit

Media Contact Information

Kevin Manne
Associate Director of Communications
School of Management