Starting your own business can be an exciting, challenging, overwhelming time. From financing to education to networking, you may not know where to turn for support and assistance.
The good news if you’re a minority aspiring entrepreneur is that government organizations have specific programs designed to help minorities succeed in business. Read on for specific tips and resources to turn your dreams into reality.
Small Business Administration (SBA)
The federal government has designated the SBA as a resource for all entrepreneurs. Small businesses can seek out assistance from the SBA regarding funding, education, and federal contracts.
Part of the special programs provided by the SBA include a wealth of resources specific to minority entrepreneurs. The scope of their assistance includes loan programs, educational resources, and federal contracting programs for certified businesses.
SBA business development programs are available to those who quality as minorities. In order to qualify for certain programs, your company must meet the specific criteria to be deemed a minority-owned business.
Under the SBA definition, a minority-owned business is when the minority business owner holds 51% or more of the company. This 51% may be in stocks, bonds, or liquid assets. Under the SBA definition, qualifying minority groups include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and Subcontinent Asian Americans.
These designated minority groups would all be eligible for the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program. This targeted program offers training, mentorship, and protected access to federal contract options.
Another federal government agency, the MBDA (affiliated with the U.S. Department of Commerce), focuses on minority entrepreneurial development. The MBDA seeks to strengthen the U.S. economy by “improving the lives of all Americans.” To that end, their mission statement seeks to develop both job growth and economic expansion.
Part of MBDA’s focus is on educational Initiatives. One educational resource is extended continuing education in the form of webinars. MBDA produced an ongoing series of web-based seminars so that business owners or aspiring owners have access to up-to-date information on business trends.
You can explore their free webinars online.
MBDA Research Library
MBDA also provides minority entrepreneurs with a comprehensive library of free resources. Their research library is a vast repository of publications and statistics pertinent to the needs and concerns of small business owners.
MBDA Contracting Opportunities & Connections
In addition to free continuing educational programs and materials, the MBDA also offers networking options and connects minority business owners with contract opportunities for qualified businesses.
MBDA fosters connections among industry peers by providing multiple networking opportunities throughout the year. Check out their 2016 events calendar for upcoming opportunities!
CAP is specific to businesses located in New York. CAP provides multiple resources for certified minority-owned businesses – from networking to career assistance. One of their main goals is to connect qualified businesses with private sector contract opportunities. CAP also provides skills training for aspiring minority entrepreneurs so that they may have multiple career opportunities in the workforce.
The NMSDC connects certified Asian, African-American, Hispanic and Native American businesses with corporate members to provide increased procurement and business opportunities. They host a number of events and conferences to facilitate networking and help minority-owned businesses get started. Check out their 2016 calendar for upcoming events and conferences.
Black Enterprise Magazine is online magazine which provides business news, educational tools and minority business trends, as well as networking opportunities for African Americans.
Black Enterprise publishes current, trending topics, including relevant articles on career, building wealth, and small business news, with a specific focus on the challenges and accomplishments of African Americans in business.
Accion is a nonprofit, community organization dedicated to helping small business owners succeed and thrive. Their goal is fairly priced, flexible loans for a diverse group of entrepreneurs. Over 60% of Accion borrowers come from minority communities.
Microlenders like Accion can provide financing as well as mentoring and networking opportunities for minority-owned businesses.
The Bottom Line
Regardless of our heritage, many of us share the dream of starting our own business. Unfortunately, minority-owned businesses still face an unfair struggle in some arenas. That’s why federal government programs and private sector organizations have stepped in to help provide support and resources to create an equal playing field. When you’re ready to take the leap toward owning your own business, know that you have educational tools, funding options, and networking groups available to help you achieve your dream.