Yahoo Finance Features Michael Manahan and The Polk Institute Foundation

As featured on Yahoo Finance.

“You’re not too young, you’re not too old, you’re not the wrong color or the wrong gender; anyone can be an entrepreneur,” according to Michael Manahan, co-founder of Polk Institute Foundation.

Originally from Canada, Michael Manahan, moved to the United States in the early ’90s to pursue his own version of the American Dream. He founded a consulting practice (now known as the Biz Rap Organization, focused on finance and accounting and spent the next 25 years working in nearly every industry imaginable, supporting start-ups and raising over $250M for companies. Manahan has drawn on years of experience to produce three books, including “Secrets to Raising Capital”, “The Secrets to Job Success”, and “The Key To Landing A Job.” Further, for a number of years he broadcast Biz Rap Radio on local LA station KCAA 1050.

10 years ago, Manahan began teaching at California State Dominguez Hills. Within this role, Manahan realized his passion for education and mentorship and was actively looking for ways to give back when he and Professor Gary Polk, a black educator and business consultant, learned they had a shared passion for mentorship. “We wanted to create something that would support the entrepreneurial spirit of Americans, and in particular minorities, outside of a textbook or university,” says Manahan.

Manahan and Polk are determined to show minorities that they are capable of and deserving of any entrepreneurial dream they put their minds to. Together, the pair teamed up to create the Polk Institute Foundation. This 40 week, 10-course program is designed to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools, training, and resources to launch their businesses. The courses are taught by real-life industry experts who draw upon their own experience, not just lessons from a dusty textbook. Throughout the program, entrepreneurs are paired with mentors and business experts to increase the likelihood of success. “Mentorship and support are a key pillar of what we do,” says Manahan, “The reality is, most new businesses fail within the first few months, but with the right support and mentorship we can ensure our students aren’t another statistic.” The final step of the program is to hopefully introduce the entrepreneurs to investors to continue funding their new ventures.

The best part of all? The program is entirely free. “We would rather our trainees invest $100K in their business than into student debt,” Manahan explains. Narrowing the wealth gap that exists in America is one of Polk and Manahan’s biggest motivators. “We have chosen to focus on the black and brown communities because these folks are historically underserved, and we’ve seen that there seems to be a common thought that starting a business is not feasible for them.” That narrative has to change. According to Manahan, owning a business is one of the best ways to build generational wealth and leave behind a legacy for one’s family. “We want to show minorities that business ownership is for them.”

Polk and Manahan put great emphasis on the “social” aspect of entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship is a business model that combines market capitalism with an interest in bettering society. Social entrepreneurs have dual passions for business and making a positive impact on the world. For the Polk Institute, this means building businesses and producing a wave of passionate entrepreneurs that are dedicated to the 3 P’s: People, Planet, and Profit.

People: Businesses and entrepreneurs seek to constantly give back to society, both through their employees and the general community. They recognize that the strength of their business is directly dependent on the strength of their team and the communities around them.

Planet: Social entrepreneurs seek to contribute to the betterment of the planet and minimize their environmental impact through sustainable and strategic measures.

Profit: Social entrepreneurs are successful and run profitable businesses. Their success allows them to expand into new markets, provide meaningful services and contribute to the greater good.

“In some circles, business and corporations are demonized. We are setting out to change that thought pattern and show that most business owners are fundamentally good people. We are rewriting this narrative by building up a generation of entrepreneurs that are committed to being honest, ethical, and caring for the environment and fellow humans,” says Manahan.

In February 2021, the institute’s first cohort launched. The cohort is made up of 26 people, including Asians, Latinos, Blacks, males and females, and young and old. By next February, the Institute hopes to launch three more cohorts, this time with 25 students in each cohort. In the next 10 years, they hope to help entrepreneurs create 1000 new businesses.

According to Manahan, “We can best help people by adhering to the fundamental concept that individuals pursuing their own economic interests in free markets will create more prosperity for more people than can ever be achieved through government regulations and a planned economy.” To learn more about joining or donating to the Polk Institute, visit To learn more about Michael Manahan, visit To learn more about the Biz Rap Organization, visit

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