Starting and running a small business is not for the faint of heart. It requires long hours, lots of determination, and above all, passion. And things that can be difficult even during the best of times have been magnified exponentially during COVID-19, especially for minority-owned businesses. In fact, since the pandemic began, The Washington Post reported more than 40% of African American business owners had to shut down. This is nearly double the average across all business owners (22%). The report also showed that 32% of Hispanic business owners and 25% of Asian business owners followed suit.
Fortunately, there are specific resources that can help minority and women-owned businesses cope in the face of all this uncertainty. Nationwide programs are available and BCT Partners has put together this list to help organizations get through the pandemic in order to build a stronger foundation for future success.
Federal Grants and Agencies
Several federal agencies have programs in place aimed at connecting minority and women-owned businesses with funding sources and new business opportunities.
1. U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development Program
The government sets aside $25 billion each year for contracts with small and disadvantaged businesses. The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program helps these business owners learn how to compete for these opportunities. Some of the benefits include:
Consulting with a business opportunity specialist
Participating in the SBA mentor-protégé program
Receiving support in executive development, building infrastructure, and effective marketing techniques. ·
The SBA's microloans offer loans up to $50,000 to help small businesses and individual not-for-profit childcare centers start up and expand. The average microloan is about $13,000. They usually are granted to individuals who would not typically qualify for a traditional bank loan.
2. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program
The DBE program is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and helps connect small, minority owned businesses with departmental contracts.
This program can guide small businesses through the DBE certification process. Once your business is certified, the program provides the following supportive services:
Training and technical assistance
Aid in creating estimates
Support in fine-tuning business management practices
Help to obtain financing and bonding
And contracts are not just for transportation related projects but could also help a retail business or restaurant open within an airport or rest-stop.
3. Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
The MDBA is the only federal agency specifically tasked with promoting and growing minority businesses. In 2018, the agency helped facilitate $3.5 billion in contracts for minority business owners, leading to the creation of 19,000 jobs.
Current initiatives include:
Research on minority businesses’ economic impact, and best strategies for growth
A nationwide network of business centers equipped to support minority businesses
Grant and loan opportunities – you can apply for grants directly on their website.
Never stop networking! For many small businesses, their best opportunities come from referrals. Professional networks offer ways to connect with peers and potential mentors and take advantage of training and other resources.
1. The National Hispanic Business Group
Founded in 1985, the NHBG’s mission is to “support Hispanic business owners and the communities they serve by fostering dialogue and economic exchange” through some of the following efforts:
Meetings and education – Seminars and events connect members with business trends and networking opportunities.
Relationships with national corporations – NHBG works with large enterprises to help diversify their employees, consultants, vendors and contractors.
NHBG funds scholarship programs to enable more Hispanic students to attend college.
2. U.S. Black Chambers
Comprising over 100 local chambers, they provide the following member services:
Financing – Partnerships with J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo help the chambers connect members with capital
Contracting opportunities – Through their directory and networking events, they help members connect with each other to facilitate new business opportunities
Advocacy – The USBC lobbies for legislation supporting minority and black-owned businesses
Training for entrepreneurs – Helps businesses navigate various programs available during COVID, such as The CARES Act, PPP loans, and other related funding opportunities
3. National Minority Supplier Development Council
The NMSDC helps its member organizations find opportunities to enter corporate and public-sector supply chains matching over 12,000 minority businesses to date.
After becoming MBE certified, your business can access:
Education and training
In addition to other programs, nonprofit organizations provide funding, opportunities, and training for minority business owners. Here are just a few of the many nonprofits that you can access.
1. The National Minority Business Council
The NMBC supports small, minority and women-owned businesses in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. It provides the following services:
Support for businesses seeking international trade partners
Support for business that want to go green (environmentally friendly) and helping those businesses take advantage of tax benefits and grants
Educational opportunities and seminars, including an executive management program and Entrepreneurial Bootcamp
2. Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA)
MEDA provides financing, training, and opportunities for minority business owners.
Current initiatives include:
A seven month “Mini-MBA” program designed to support minority entrepreneurs
Business consulting services including financial planning and analysis ·
The MEDA million dollar challenge competition for start-up funding
3. First Nations Development Institute
The FNDI provides grants, training, and advocacy for small businesses and nonprofits owned by First Nations entrepreneurs. Their mission is to support Native communities and people through several initiatives, including grant funding for businesses.
Since its founding in 1980, First Nations has distributed over $37 million in grants.
4. Black Founders
The mission of Black Founders is to “increase the number of successful black entrepreneurs in technology.” The organization offers events, conferences and tools to help black tech entrepreneurs grow their business and become part of an ecosystem that provides support and resources.
Code2040 works to guarantee that black and hispanic innovators have access to the things they need in order to enter and excel in the technology industry. They offer an entrepreneur residency program in several U.S. cities.
6. National Women’s Business Council
National Women’s Business Council (NWBC): Provides independent advice and policy recommendations to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues important to female business owners.
Publications for Minority Owned Businesses
Minority Business Entrepreneur Magazine contains a diverse range of minority voices and relevant information for minority-owned businesses. ·
Black Enterprise Small Business offers features that can help in all areas of business—from raising capital to best practices to individual stories of black small business owners. ·
Latin Business Today contains a multitude of resources for Hispanic entrepreneurs including information about starting a business, growing it, and innovating in a global economy.
Beyond the national resources we’ve shared, it’s important to be active within your local business community as well.
Nextdoor is one such opportunity where you can take advantage of some of their tools for businesses.
Create a free Business Page
Run promotions if you offer local discounts
Utilize their free business posts to connect with customers and other businesses
So, while being an entrepreneur is by no means easy, they don’t have to go it alone. There are many sources for advice, free tools and ideas for creative financing. And our country depends on their survival with the number of small businesses reaching almost 32 million in 2020. BCT Partners is rooting for each and every one of them!
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