Atlanta restaurant owner Aisha “Pinky” Cole surprised over 800 graduates of her alma mater Clark Atlanta University with a kickstart to launch their own businesses.
“I have partnered with Varo Bank to provide every single graduate in this audience with a new LLC and a path to entrepreneurship,” Cole said before the uproar of applause. “Every single graduate in this audience will leave this stadium as a business owner,” she proclaimed.
Per a press release from the university, Cole graduated in 2009 with a major in mass communication/media studies. She was crowned Miss Clark Atlanta during her undergrad in 2008 and initiated into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Sigma chapter.
“It is a full-circle moment to have Ms. Aisha Pinky Cole serve as Clark Atlanta University’s 2022 Commencement orator. We are excited that Pinky — as we affectionately call her – will serve her alma mater in this capacity,” said CAU President Dr. George T. French Jr.
“Pinky Cole had a business and lost everything,” Cole said during the address. “My car got repo’d, got kicked out of my house, went flat broke, almost lost my mind — and almost four years later, she now owns and operates at $100 million vegan brand. She found aspiration in the losses,” she said. “You think I was gonna give up because of some failure? Hell no. And neither will you.”
Cole stated that there is inspiration in failure.
“I’m telling this to you, the class of 2022, that I want you to fail. I want you to fail so hard you become an expert in failure and you get a PhD in failology. I want you to fail because failing is not failing at all — it is finding aspiration in the losses.”
She shared with 11Alive that the bill for the LLCs was over $400,000.
Cole’s nonprofit, the Pinky Cole Foundation, aims to empower future generations by supplying financial literacy support and entrepreneurship training.