From David and Kim Mason Hanna’s perspective, the world is getting a lot more entrepreneurial — and they want to help it along. To that end, these two 1986 finance graduates have made a generous gift to UGA’s year-old Entrepreneurship Program. Headquartered in Terry, the program teaches students the ins and outs of creating and nurturing a business venture.
“It starts with both Kim’s upbringing and mine,” says David. “We had entrepreneurial fathers, so we were always encouraged on those tracks, as opposed to ‘Go work at IBM.’ It seems there has not been a lot of study about teaching people entrepreneurship. Most of my entrepreneurial skills came from watching my father from the time I was two years old until I was 20. It’s more difficult for people who don’t have that advantage.”
David is co-founder, chairman of the board, and CEO of Atlanticus Holdings Corporation, formerly CompuCredit.
Terry is a strong family tradition for the Hannas. David’s father, Frank Hanna Jr. (BBA ’61), and his brother Frank III (BBA ’83, JD ’86), are alums. So are Kim and David’s sons, John (BBA ’12) and James (BBA ’14). Daughter Anna Marie is a rising senior.
On Kim’s side of the family, the Terry grads include her brother, Keith Mason (BBA ’82, JD ’85), and sisters Kay Mason Hamil (BBA ’87) and Kristy Mason English (BBA ’90).
Kim and David especially like the Entrepreneurship Program’s broad reach — it’s open to students throughout the university — as well as its experiential elements.
“They’re really doing things now instead of just classroom learning — putting practical experience around coursework. It’s almost like graduate business schools historically have done.”
Both David and Kim welcome the opportunity to interact with students who are enrolled in the program. “I never want to make a business investment where I’m only investing money. There are plenty of people who can do that,” says David. “But if I believe I can bring something else to the table, those are the kinds of investments I’m more interested in. Then you leverage both sides of it.”
The Hannas are benefactors of many endeavors. Their generosity has helped start two Catholic schools in Atlanta, and they have supported Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Piedmont Hospital, and St. Jude’s Research Hospital. The healthcare gifts were prompted by son John’s childhood bout with cancer, which is in remission.
How do they determine which causes to support? It begins with their faith, which guides their philanthropic decisions.
“We try to donate to things where our dollars are actually going to make a difference,” says David. “We donate charitably to entrepreneurial efforts where, without our dollars, this or that thing might not happen.”
Hence, their support of the Entrepreneurship Program.
“What we’re seeing is that the whole world is getting a lot more entrepreneurial,” says David. “It’s not just the local small businessman. People are being encouraged to get out and start things up. Young people are starting things up, coming up with great ideas, new ways of doing things.”
There’s also the appeal of giving back to Terry.
“I would say overwhelmingly that we are paying it forward,” says David. “Terry is a wonderful place that has given both us and our children a great education.”