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What’s your favorite minority-owned business? Can you think of more than one that’s opened in the past few years? If so, there’s a reason for it: According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), entrepreneurship within minority groups is increasing.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, unfortunately. Access to capital isn’t as easy for these entrepreneurs, including securing financing and keeping businesses open. Luckily, excellent resources for black and minority business owners are available to really help you get off the ground. And, just like black business ownership, they’re also increasing.
Data from a 2016 SBA release indicates that minorities own 29% of U.S. businesses—and the best part is that number is only growing. The number of U.S. minority-owned business enterprises more than doubled between 2002 and 2012, according to the Minority Business Development Agency (MDBA).
All of this is exactly what we want to hear. Not only does it mean that there are opportunities for business owners from all different backgrounds, often underrepresented in the small business world, to open up shop—but it also means they are seizing these opportunities.
It’s hard for minority business owners to open, flourish, and expand as quickly as they want to, however, when access to financing for minority business owners is currently lacking the same kind of growth spurt. As the MBDA points out, minority-owned businesses are more likely to be denied loans at triple the rate than non-minority firms. That’s staggering.
Starting a business is already a challenge, so when you’re up against additional odds, it’s only tougher. Fortunately, there are many resources offered by agencies and organizations dedicated to serving minority business owners, from getting the advice to start your business to accessing additional capital to finance and grow your business.
Here are the best small business resources for black business owners, and other great opportunities to find help, too.
The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) holds an ongoing application through their growth grants program in which business owners can apply for grants up to $4,000. All small business owners who are NASE members with up-to-date dues can apply. Past recipients have secured funds for help with technology, hiring, and marketing.
Funded by the U.S. Black Chambers Community Economic Development Corporation, Millennial Entrepreneurs Redefined is a program for millennials (between the ages of 18 and 35) who “have not yet started a business but have an innovative idea, or have an emerging business with less than $10,000 in capital and/or revenue.” The U.S. Black Chamber and partners involved in the program will provide ongoing support, mentorship, and consultation for the selected winners. Following the initial selections, all applicants of the first round are eligible to compete in a plan and pitch competition with awards up to $5,000.
The federal government doesn’t offer grants for business owners, as its funding is granted to organizations, not individuals. However, it does provide many resources for minority business owners. For example, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce is the only agency solely dedicated to the growth of minority businesses. That means the MBDA provides access to financing resources as well as some funding opportunities for minority business owners.
The Capital Pathways program is a workshop hosted by the MBDA across the United States that seeks to connect and educate communities of minority business owners. These live workshops provide credit counseling, entrepreneurship education, and training from local lenders, investors, and contractors, aiming to help owners grow business and secure capital.
The goal of the 8(a) Business Development Program is to promote business ownership by minority individuals by providing a variety of resources such as access to capital and other forms of financial assistance. In order to qualify for the 8(a) business development program, the small business must be 51% owned and controlled by a U.S. citizen who has experienced cultural bias and placed at an economic disadvantage because of their race or ethnicity. Here’s a list of eligibility requirements.
The Small Business Empowerment Program is hosted by Operation Hope. The 12-week training program is designed for entrepreneurs and small business owners in low-income neighborhoods. This program offers business training and financial counseling with lending services. Partnering with more than 25 direct lenders nationwide, Operation Hope provides access to a wide range of small business loan options. Plus, participants can find access to business services, training, and other resources.
The National Minority Supplier Development Council is a corporate member organization focused on increasing business opportunities for certified minority-owned businesses. It operates the Business Consortium Fund, a nonprofit business development program, which offers financing programs and business advisory services for its members.
Capital One and the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) have teamed up to offer a business development program, CATAPULT. The seven-month long program will train business owners in creating solutions to complex business problem or help in creating a new product or service. More information about the program and its requirements can be found here.
The Department of Transportation has the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, which is designed to protect small business owners against discrimination when snagging contracts in federally assisted highway, transit, airport, and highway safety sectors nationwide. The goal of the DBE program is to level the playing field for small business owners who identify as socially and economically disadvantaged, to provide them with a fair opportunity to compete for federally funded transportation contracts.
For those looking to secure government contacts in New York City, and for businesses that are certified as Minority-Owned Business Enterprises, Capalino+Company has a MWBE Consulting Group, which aims to help businesses comply with the city’s regulations. With their range of knowledge and experience with government processes, Capalino+Company helps businesses go after government contracts.
You can also try their mobile app, MWBE Connect NY, dedicated to pairing up MWBEs with government contract opportunities. Matches can also connect with their expert consultants right on the app. (Tinder, except definitely not.)
For more information on receiving a Minority-Owned Business Enterprise certification, check out the Empire State Development government website.
USA.gov provides information for small business resources specific to your state. The National Black Chamber of Commerce also provides excellent resources and national events throughout the year for black business owners. Make sure to stay involved with their initiatives to promote your business, and also see where your own expertise can be a fit.
Relatedly, reach out to your local or state chamber of commerce. There’s no better time to show that there is a need within your community for small business owners and entrepreneurs than now—by reaching out, you may even discover a local organization that is looking to help out entrepreneurs with information, resources, and maybe even financing, too.
As minority business ownership continues to grow, the opportunities for funding will continue to develop. Organizations are providing new resources and developing new programs for the future of black business ownership.
New programs, organizations, and opportunities for minority business owners are opening up every day, so keep an eye on the U.S. Black Chamber site for new events and programs as they come up. And if we missed something, or you know of something new popping up? Contact us so we can keep our listing current and list all of the opportunities out there.