Jamaican American Founder of “Slutty Vegan” Gives $8.9 Million to Savannah State University Graduates

Jamaican American entrepreneur, Pinky Cole Hayes, the founder of Slutty Vegan and Bar Vegan, has given nearly $9 million to the 2024 graduates of Savannah State University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Georgia. She has provided this gift of $8.9 million via a partnership with Operation Hope and One Million Black Businesses (1MBB) to give the graduates a good start toward entrepreneurial success.

An “entrepreneurial starter pack”

In an interview with VegOut, the interim president of Savannah State University, Cynthia Robinson, expressed the university’s excitement over the investment made by Cole Hayes. The funds will be used to support an “Entrepreneurial Starter Pack” designed to give students mentorship from 1MBB, along with educational resources, a no-cost subscription to Shopify for three months, and an eight-week training course for small businesses that will address developing a business plan and effective financial management.

A passion for supporting the next generation

Cole Hayes has long had a passion for “lifting up the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs” because she has personal knowledge of how important it is for budding entrepreneurs to have mentors who believe in their dreams. Cole Hayes made special mention of the adversity faced by the 2024 graduating class, citing its challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and other unprecedented events. She noted that the students have thrived through it all and are ready to make their marks in “the real world.” She added that she believes in the graduates and hopes her gift will help them make a successful transition to their next phase in life.

Jamaican American Businesswoman Surprises High School and Sponsors Their Prom - Pinky Cole

Cole Hayes is a “living example”

The CEO and founder of Operation Hope, John Hope Bryant, described his organization as being “grounded in his own experience as a young Black entrepreneur” who wanted to help others succeed along with him. He shared that it was a banker who came to his elementary school to teach the students about financial literacy and entrepreneurship that changed his life. He added that Cole Hayes is “a living example” of what can happen when a great idea meets the right opportunity. He said that 1MBB wants to provide such opportunities for as many great ideas as it can, noting  the organization’s excitement to partner with Cole Hayes in encouraging the “next generation of Black entrepreneurial excellence.”

The start of “Slutty Vegan”

Cole Hayes, formerly a television producer, founded her “Slutty Vegan” restaurant in 2018, planning to customers to order food online and have it brought to them by a delivery service. She was inspired to begin the food service because she could find no vegan food available after 9 pm. The name of her restaurant was meant to attract the attention of non-vegan customers as she promoted it via social media. The business evolved from a shared kitchen to a food truck to a brick-and-mortar venue by 2019. As of 2023, the Slutty Vegan had expanded to 11 locations in Georgia, New York City, Birmingham, Alabama, and Dallas, Texas, with plans to open additional locations in the future.

Photo – Pinky Cole