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How MBDAs support BIPOC entrepreneurs and startups
As of 2023, there are 9.7 million minority business enterprises. And after more than 52 years in existence, in 2021 President Biden signed the Minority Business Development Act of 2021, which expanded and made permanent the MBDA as the United States’ newest federal agency.
MBDAs aim to foster the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses. There are MBDA Business Centers in nearly every state, and some states have multiple. They specialize in providing business consulting, financing services, and procurement assistance to minority business owners
For BIPOC founders launching or growing a business, connecting with your local MBDA can provide invaluable support. The services offered are tailored to minority entrepreneurs who often face unique challenges in accessing capital, contracting opportunities, and networking spaces. MBDA advisors have expertise in areas like writing business plans, securing financing, digital marketing, and government contracting - all key activities for scaling a successful business.
In particular, MBDA Business Centers can help BIPOC entrepreneurs:
Access capital through financing referrals and guidance on SBA (Small Business Administration) loan programs. This is critical as minority business owners are more likely to have their loans denied by traditional financial institutions.
Compete for public and private sector contracts by being listed in MBDA's database of certified minority businesses. Many large corporations and government agencies have supplier diversity programs that seek out minority-owned vendors.
Receive business consulting and technical assistance in areas like e-commerce, digital marketing, business planning, and exports. Minority entrepreneurs often lack connections to these specialized services.
Network with other minority business owners through events and programming at MBDA Business Centers. Building connections is vital yet minority entrepreneurs can feel isolated or excluded from mainstream business networks.
While the services are free or low-cost, the real value comes from working with MBDA's team of advisors who understand the obstacles facing minority entrepreneurs. The advisors are invested in seeing minority-owned businesses grow and can provide guidance tailored to each company's unique needs and goals.
Connecting BIPOC founders through coworking spaces
In addition to the consulting and advising services, MBDA Business Centers provide minority entrepreneurs a physical space to work, meet, and collaborate. The environment found at many MBDA locations mirrors that of coworking spaces that have grown rapidly in cities across America.
Coworking spaces are shared work environments for entrepreneurs, remote workers, and small companies. They provide practical amenities like WiFi, printing, conference rooms, and kitchen space in an open layout design. However, coworking is about more than just the physical features. Coworking fosters community and connections between members through networking and community events.
This collaborative atmosphere allows minority founders to work alongside each other and interact with more established businesses. For groups that have historically been marginalized or isolated, access to an inclusive coworking-like space can be invaluable. MBDAs provide this along with the targeted consulting services for minority entrepreneurs.
Some of the parallels between MBDAs and coworking spaces include:
- Access to amenities - MBDAs and coworking spaces both provide the fundamental utilities like WiFi, printing, and meeting rooms that early-stage ventures need.
- Community - Minority founders can connect, collaborate, and support each other through networking events and programming at MBDA facilities.
- Mentorship - Seasoned minority entrepreneurs provide guidance and advice to less experienced members of the community at MBDAs. This peer-to-peer mentorship mirrors coworking.
- Educational events - MBDAs and coworking spaces host workshops, speakers, and classes allowing members to continuously develop their skills.
- Flexibility - Affordable month-to-month access and 24/7 availability cater to the flexible needs of entrepreneurs.
For minority founders, having an ecosystem that understands the unique challenges they face in launching and growing a business is essential. Both MBDAs and coworking spaces strive to support traditionally underserved and minority entrepreneurs. They create communities that allow members to learn from and empower each other as they build their ventures.
Leveraging resources to grow your business
Minority Business Development Agencies provide a launching pad for BIPOC entrepreneurs through targeted consulting and an ecosystem that fosters collaboration. Yet many minority founders are unaware these valuable resources exist.
As you look to build your own business, be sure to leverage both the physical and knowledge assets provided by your local MBDA Business Center. They want to see your venture succeed and can be a key ally along your entrepreneurial journey.