Minority-owned businesses are major drivers in the U.S. economy. However, they continue to face obstacles that are nonexistent for other business owners. Despite many gains in equality and recognition, minority-owned businesses tend to be smaller, generate smaller profits and have less access to funding options.
For all of these reasons, there are many grant and business support programs specifically for minority entrepreneurs. If you qualify, you can receive financial assistance, education, mentoring, or support services to start or expand your business. While not a comprehensive list, these are some of the programs your business may qualify for that will help you achieve a more level playing field with other businesses in your industry.
Black Business Owners
Black business owners encounter a number of barriers to starting and growing their business, including finding funding sources. Black borrowers typically have higher borrowing costs, are approved for smaller loans, and are more likely to be rejected for a businesses loan all together. Access to funding through traditional business loans and business lines of credit are essential to building the business of your dreams. Some organizations specifically help Black and Brown business owners find this funding.
In addition to helping small businesses secure loans, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has developed the SBA 8(a), a nine year business development program that supports small socially or economically disadvantaged businesses owners compete for coveted government contracts. Those in the program are eligible to bid on contracts with little competition, receive additional support to navigate the process of securing government contracts, and be mentored by seasoned business professionals.
The Minority Business Development Agency is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The agency specializes in connecting minority owned businesses with the resources they need to be successful. This can include capital, business loans, government grants, and relationships with industry leaders. They have a nationwide network of business offices that can support business owners in the community where they work and live.
Similarly, the National Minority Supplier Development Council works to create opportunities for minority owned businesses. They also offer support services and financial assistance to new and growing enterprises. More than 12,000 businesses of all sizes are members, and the council works to connect these businesses with their target customers.
The National Minority Business Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to improve business opportunities for minority populations. They offer member businesses extensive training opportunities and trade resources to minority and women-owned businesses.
Immigrant Business Owners
There are a number of grant programs to help immigrants and refugees establish successful businesses in the U.S.
The Wilson-Fish Alternative Program is administered by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and can provide English language classes, cash to establish a business, medical help, and business training. The goal of the program is self-sufficiency for those who have entered the U.S. as refugees.
The Microenterprise Development Program helps refugees develop the skills necessary to grow a successful business. This can include financial literacy training, as well as microloans or lines of credit.
Women Business Owners
The SBA is also committed to supporting women who are starting or expanding their businesses.
The Office of Women’s Business Ownership offers education. advocacy, outreach, and support to women entrepreneurs. They also facilitate grant opportunities for women to start and grow their business. Their Woman’s Business Centers are open specifically for women, and offer support for overcoming the barriers of being a minority in the business world.
Organizations such as the National Women’s Business Council advocate at the federal level for women in business and have collected resources to support these business owners. As well as being a source of up-to-date information, the council can connect women with resources and support systems to help them find success in their business venture. With decades of experience building successful businesses, the council offers expertise in any field and support services for any unique situation.
There are hundreds of other services specifically for minority-owned businesses. Check with the leaders of your particular industry, state, and any groups you’re a member of for more opportunities.
Many large corporations have invested in creating grants and support services for new businesses in their industry. These seasoned professionals offer resources that a start-up may not yet have access to, and can connect you with reliable contracts and solid funding sources.