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Azline Shelby Nelson Wins the Jacob Global Venture Award

April 2021

Spelman Alumna Azline Nelson Wins Wharton School of Business AwardAzline Shelby Nelson, C’2013, is the first Black woman to win the Jacob Global Venture Award, a pitch competition sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

Funded by Wharton’s Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies, the award provides Lauder students with the opportunity to focus their energies on entrepreneurial ventures in place of a traditional summer MBA internship.

Passionate about business development in Africa and becoming a global leader, Nelson plans to use the $10K grant to scale Anima Iris, a luxury handbag brand made in Dakar, Senegal, founded by Wilglory Tanjong.

"It is a myth that you need to ‘have everything together’ before you start or support an enterprise. You will indeed make mistakes but persevere and learn from your missteps," Nelson wrote in an essay about her win. "Failing forward is putting your best effort into a new idea and maintaining a coachable learning posture. Think of feedback as a gift, so as you develop your business idea, be resourceful and stay connected to an entrepreneurial ecosystem."

Nelson's Road of Success to Spelman and Beyond

Spelman alumna Azline NelsonBorn in Chicago, Illinois and raised in the small rural town of Waterloo, Iowa, Nelson became a National Gates Millennium Scholar and ventured to Atlanta to complete her undergraduate degree in international studies at Spelman. Upon graduation, she remained in Georgia and started her career in the travel industry at Delta Air Lines in the pricing and revenue management department.

"In this experience, I learned the core business model of supply and demand for an airline and contributed to the transformation of how Delta de-commoditized the market. I supported the company’s efforts on the pricing team for the Basic Economy and Delta One branded aircraft products. My fascination of how Delta elevated its brand position and gained global market share encouraged me to join the sales department where I managed the pricing strategy for travel agents in the the Asia-Pacific region. In this role, I discovered my passion for multi-cultural marketing to influence consumer perception of products and services," Nelson said in a Lauder Institute interview.

As a graduate student at the Wharton School and the Lauder Institute, Nelson is passionate about business development and entrepreneurship in Africa. She is involved in the Wharton Africa Investment Partners program that focuses on completing due diligence, go-to-market strategies, and other consulting projects for African companies. She serves as the director of communications and manages the digital newsletter and promotes awareness for African culture and original content. Nelson’s long-term goal is to become well-versed in building a global market strategy in emerging markets across Africa.


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