a helping hand

Prominent Houston banking family gifts $4M to UH's innovative new center for minority entrepreneurship

Houston banking family gifts $4M to UH for minority entrepreneurship

Dakri family Houston UH Wallis Bank Musa Khaleda Asif Faizel Jule Lynn
Asif and Julie Lynn Dakri, Khaleda and Musa Dakri, and Faizel Dakri have gifted $4M to UH. Photo courtesy of the Dakri family/University of Houston

A prominent Houston family has just made a sizable investment in the University of Houston’s in the C. T. Bauer College of Business. The Dakri family has pledged $4 million in support of the Bauer College’s new Center for Economic Inclusion, which which aims to develop minority entrepreneurship and business development.

With the donation, the CEI will now be known as the Musa and Khaleda Dakri Center for Economic Inclusion, according to a press release.

Specifically, this $4 million gift will establish an endowed chair to support the center’s chair/director position and an endowed professorship to expand the institute’s research priorities, which includes research on small business entrepreneurship. Monies also will also support research costs and graduate research fellowships for students, per UH.

“The Dakri family is passionate about the betterment of Houston, generously offering their time and resources to truly make an impact in the community,” said Renu Khator, University of Houston president, in a statement. “With this support for our new Center for Economic Inclusion, entrepreneurs from all communities, including those in most need of investment, will get access to education, expertise and training needed to build businesses and transform lives.”

Musa and Khaleda Dakri, who hail from India, are longtime Houston residents and have been married for 54 years. Musa has been the chairman of Wallis Bank for more than 30 years. His sons Asif and Faizel serve as Wallis Bank’s chief executive officer and chief information officer, respectively.

Besides being longtime UH supporters, the Dakri family has long worked for the betterment of the African American, Mexican American, and South Asian communities. Of note, an endowment in UH’s Center for Mexican American, and Latino/a Studies named for Musa and Khaleda provides support for student scholarships, research, and more.

As the only higher education center of its kind in the US, the Center for Economic Inclusion aims to combine experiential education, academic research, and real-world expertise to train students in human-centered skills, while economically empowering under-resourced entrepreneurs.

At the center’s launch, keynote speaker Henry Cisneros, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), called UH’s model for training entrepr“eneurs and upskilling students the best he has ever seen.

Our newly established Center for Economic Inclusion will empower aspiring entrepreneurs, who are mostly women and people of color, to chase their dreams of founding a successful new business, just as the Dakri family has done successfully for decades,” said Paul A. Pavlou, dean of the C. T. Bauer College of Business, in a statement. “Our gratitude to the Dakri family is only matched by our eagerness to get to work and train the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs.”