One of Clark Atlanta University’s most prominent young entrepreneurs announced a plan during her commencement speech Saturday to help its newest graduates start their own businesses.

Pinky Cole, owner of the popular Slutty Vegan restaurants, said she has partnered with Varo Bank to provide each of the university’s roughly 800 graduates with a limited liability corporation, or LLC, for those aspiring to become entrepreneurs.

“Every single graduate in this audience will leave this stadium as a business owner,” Cole said to cheers near the end of her speech at the commencement, held at the university’s Panther Stadium.

Cole did not mention additional details about the plan during her speech. It costs $100 in Georgia to start a limited liability corporation.

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Students react to the announcement by Pinky Cole in her commencement address that she would gift and set up LLCs for every graduate at Clark Atlanta University’s commencement on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

Students react to the announcement by Pinky Cole in her commencement address that she would gift and set up LLCs for every graduate at Clark Atlanta University’s commencement on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

caption arrowCaption
Students react to the announcement by Pinky Cole in her commencement address that she would gift and set up LLCs for every graduate at Clark Atlanta University’s commencement on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

Cole, a Baltimore native, graduated from Clark Atlanta in 2009. Slutty Vegan, a plant-based burger joint, has four metro Atlanta locations and one in Athens. There are plans to open locations in Columbus; Brooklyn, New York; and Birmingham, Alabama.

Cole’s journey as a restauranteur hasn’t been easy. Her first restaurant was destroyed in a fire. She encouraged the graduates to pursue their dreams and learn from failure.

ExploreSlutty Vegan owner Pinky Cole reveals why she’s forever indebted to Atlanta

“Find aspiration in the losses,” she said several times in her speech.

Cole has helped Clark Atlanta in other ways since graduating from the historically Black university. In 2019, Cole and Stacey Lee, another Clark Atlanta alumna, paid off the remaining debts of 30 seniors.

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