Since 2007, there’s been a 38% increase in minority-owned businesses. States like California, Florida, New York, and Texas lead the way with the highest concentration of businesses that are at least 51% owned by a minority.
Unfortunately, the US economy still hasn’t reached a place of equal opportunity, and the effects of inequality ripple out into the world of small business. For one, it’s far easier to start a business if you’ve got some wealth to back you up, and unfortunately, centuries of discrimination have resulted in people of color accumulating significantly less generational wealth than white people. Luckily, there are other means of financing a business, but research shows that minority-owned businesses are less likely to be approved for business loans, and when they are approved, they tend to receive smaller amounts and higher interest rates. All of this, even though it’s been proven that diversity in business lends itself to financial performance.
Several programs offer support to level the playing field and help minority founders grow their businesses. These programs can provide grants and loans for minority-owned businesses, as well as business training, mentorship, and even better contracts. If you run a minority-owned business, consider taking advantage of these benefits.
National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)
If your business is at least 51% owned and operated by a minority, defined by the NMSDC as someone who is at least 25% Asian, Black, Hispanic, or Native American, getting certified by the NMSDC is a must. This organization will open up a range of benefits for your business, the most lucrative of which are exclusive contracts and marketing opportunities.
Many government organizations, along with a large number of private corporations, are required to give a percentage of their contracts to minority-owned businesses. This condition means that companies often seek out businesses that are certified minority-owned by the NMSDC, so holding this certification gives you a leg up over the competition. Some of the NMSDC’s biggest corporate members include Microsoft, Starbucks, American Express, FedEx, and Johnson & Johnson.
In addition to being added to the NMSDC’s database of suppliers, you’ll get access to an advanced management training program, invites to NMSDC business fairs and networking events, and the opportunity to apply for exclusive scholarships and grants.
SBA 8(a) Business Development Program
The US Small Business Administration is well known for their SBA loans, but they also have the 8(a) Business Development program, which works specifically with disadvantaged businesses–including minority-owned businesses.
The US government aims to give at least 5% of all their contracting dollars to disadvantaged businesses through this program. This designation means that minority-owned businesses can compete for lucrative government contracts by qualifying for the SBA 8(a) Business Development program.
The program includes the 8(a) Mentor-Protégé program, which assigns business owners an invaluable protégé to help them navigate everything from navigating the program and setting up an SBA-approved business plan to earning these lucrative contracts. You’ll also get business training, marketing assistance, and counseling.
Minority Development Business Agency (MDBA)
Run by the US Department of Commerce, the Minority Development Business Agency (MDBA) is wholly dedicated to the growth of minority-owned businesses and thus is full of great resources for minorities who own a business.
The organization can connect you to grants and loans specifically geared toward minority business owners, and they even hold grant competitions from time to time. If it’s training and expertise you’re after, the MDBA has dozens of business centers scattered across the US where business experts can help you with everything from creating a business plan to obtaining certifications and implementing sustainability measures.
Other Funding and Training Opportunities for Minority-Owned Businesses
Millennial Entrepreneurs Redefined runs a workshop series around the US that offers budding millennial minority entrepreneurs training in how to launch their business idea. Assistance in obtaining funding is part of the program as well, including a pitching workshop with live investors.
Some organizations aim their assistance at specific minorities. For example, the First Nations Development Institute regularly gives grants to projects and businesses run by Native Americans. The SBA also runs special small business support programs for Native American-owned businesses. Black business owners should look into joining the Black Business Association (BBA), which provides access to a massive network of other Black business owners as well as BBA events, training, and opportunities. The USPAACC is the largest organization in the US offering support to Pan-Asian business owners, and the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has a business enterprise program for Hispanic business owners.
Finally, look into programs run by your state that support minority-owned businesses. Illinois recently announced a plan to award $15 million in grants to minority business owners, and the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs offers everything from trade shows and sponsorships to youth programs.
It’s time to make America the land of opportunity for all. By taking advantage of these benefits for minority-owned businesses, you can be a part of that.