The Census Bureau reports that the number of minority-owned businesses is growing—up 39 percent in just five years. But even with these gains, only 15 percent of all small businesses are minority owned. Like many small businesses, one of the key challenges is funding. But there are a number of public and private sources available that target minority-owned businesses. Here are five tips for women and minority business owners to find funding for a start-up or to grow an existing company.
Plug into funding websites
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is a U. S. Department of Commerce program offering access to capital, contracting opportunities, grants, and new markets. It provides information and workshops on a variety of funding including bonding, loan packaging, private equity and venture capital.
Access government resources
The Small Business Administration offers several programs. The 8(a) Business Development Program provides one-on-one counseling, training workshops and management guidance. It also offers a mentoring program that provides joint venture and subcontracting opportunities. That helps minority-owned businesses complete successfully for federal contracts. Similar programs are available for Native American-owned small businesses.
Link up with corporate member programs
The Minority Supplier Development Council (MSDC) connects minority-owned businesses with organizations that wish to purchase their products and services. These organizations include public and private companies, healthcare companies, and colleges and universities. Member companies diversify their supply chain and minority-owned companies expand their customer base.
Train to compete
The Department of Transportation (DOT) offers a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Its goal is to level the playing field so that minority-owned and women-owned businesses can compete fairly for DOT-assisted contracts. The agency can offer grant funding to learn how to better compete for highway contracts.
Enter a contest
There are a number of private organizations that sponsor business plan competitions or industry specific contests. Some target specific minority groups. Contestants may be required to give a presentation before a panel of judges. Here is a list of organizations that sponsor competitions, targeting women and minorities.
One of the key challenges facing start-ups and existing small businesses is access to funding—especially in today’s credit market. That’s why it’s important for women and minority business owners to take advantage of funding sources that target their business. Start by considering these five tips.