Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship for Over 30 Years

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is proposing to amend its regulations governing VA's Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) Verification Program. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (the NDAA), Public Law 114-840 , placed the responsibility for issuing regulations relating to ownership and control for the verification of VOSBs with the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). This proposed regulation seeks to remove all references to ownership and control in VAs existing verification regulations and to add and clarify certain terms and references that are currently part of the verification process. The NDAA also provides that in certain circumstances a firm can qualify as VOSB or Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) when there is a surviving spouse or an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).

The text of this proposed rule and additional information is available  here Comments on this rule are due by March 12, 2018 and can be submitted  here


The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) proposes to amend its regulations to implement provisions of The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA 2017). The NDAA 2017 placed the responsibility for issuing regulations relating to ownership and control for the Department of Veterans Affairs verification of Veteran-Owned (VO) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVO) Small Business Concern (SBC) with the SBA. Pursuant to NDAA 2017, there will be one definition of ownership and control for these concerns, which will apply to the Department of Veterans Affairs in its verification and Vets First Contracting Program procurements, and all other government acquisitions which require self-certification. The legislation also provides that in certain circumstances a firm can qualify as VO or SDVO when there is a surviving spouse or an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).

The text of this proposed rule and additional information is available here Comments on this rule are due by March 30, 2018 and can be submitted here

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced the launch of the 2018 Emerging Leaders initiative for executives of small businesses poised for growth in emerging markets. Local area recruitment for the 2018 training cycle is currently ongoing at designated SBA District Offices. Classes are scheduled to begin this spring with specific dates differing by location. Interested small business owners can learn more regarding eligibility, how to apply, and class schedules at the SBA’s Emerging Leaders website.

The Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders initiative provides free entrepreneurship education and training for executives of small, poised-for-growth companies that are potential job creators. This intensive executive entrepreneurship series includes nearly 100 hours of classroom time. It also provides opportunities for small business owners to work with experienced coaches and mentors, attend workshops, and develop connections with their peers, local leaders, and the financial community.

Since its inception in 2008, the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative has trained over 5,000 small business owners, creating over 6,500 jobs, generating over $300 million in new financing, and securing over $3.16 billion in government contracts.

Business executives who want to join the 2018 Emerging Leaders can find locations online at , or by contacting your local SBA district office.


The U.S. Small Business Administration today announced the Veteran Federal Procurement Entrepreneurship Training Program funding opportunity competition. The funding will be given to a U.S.-based organization to expand an existing program providing federal procurement entrepreneurship training to veteran-owned small businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, while building the capacity of VOSBs and SDVOSBs to compete for and win federal contracts.

The funding opportunity, offered by SBAs Office of Veterans Business Development, will enable one awardee to deliver, and scale as required, an existing veteran federal procurement entrepreneurial training program to VOSBs and SDVOSBs who intend to pursue, or are already engaged in federal procurement.

The VFPETP funding competition is open to eligible nonprofit or private sector organizations with a demonstrated history of providing quality entrepreneurship and/or business management training for VOSBs and SDVOSBs. Other criteria to be evaluated will include performance metrics, outcomes of the existing program and the ability to scale operations of the existing program to serve SDVOSBs and VOSBs from all U.S. states and territories.

The OVBD will host a webinar on Wednesday, May 24 at 2 p.m. EDT to provide additional information and address any questions related to the VFPETP grant announcement. To ensure your questions are addressed during the webinar, please submit them to no later than Friday, May 19, by 4 p.m. EDT.

The webinar link, call-in number, and access code are listed below:
USA Toll-Free:(888) 958-2144 or (646) 746-3008
Access Code:1183010
Web Conference URL:

Eligible, interested parties should submit their application for funding opportunity the web portal at no later than Friday, June 8 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Applications submitted via other media or sites will be rejected and will not be evaluated.


The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced the awarding of $300,000 in Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program grants to three organizations offering small business development resources to women veterans and military spouses.

The funding opportunity, offered by SBAs Office of Veterans Business Development, supports each organization’s entrepreneurial training programs for women who are veterans, service members, and spouses of veterans and service members. Each awardee was chosen based on their demonstrated history of and commitment to providing training programs and resources to women.

Increasingly, women small business owners are contributing in a major way to the growth of the U.S. economy, and women veterans bring a unique and valued skill set to entrepreneurship, SBA Administrator Linda McMahon said. Funding these organizations involved in helping women veterans and military spouses establish successful businesses will go a long way towards securing the future for these women and their families.

The three awardees are:

  • Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University: Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) - $135,000. The V-WISE program is an intensive three-phase program containing a 15-day online preparatory course, a two-day residency program, and post-training technical support. IVMF also offers an accelerated version of the course called IGNITE. Both programs are open to applicants nationwide.
  • Bunker Labs:Entrepreneurial Program for Innovation and Collaboration (EPIC) and Bunker in a Box - $90,000. Bunker Labs provides education, mentoring and networking opportunities to help military veterans start and grow their businesses. EPIC is a 14-week training course offered by Bunker Labs where participants meet weekly, while also having access to the online Bunker in a Box. The program is offered in Chicago, Philadelphia, Redwood City (California), Nashville, Austin, Minneapolis, New York City, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Raleigh-Durham, Madison (Wisconsin), and Washington, D.C.
  • San Antonio Lift Fund - $75,000.Lift Fund is a non-profit organization that helps small business owners with limited access to capital. The Texas-based Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Program is a seven-week course offering both in-person and online training, and covers everything from technical assistance to capital requirements. The program serves the San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Laredo, Brownsville, and El Paso areas.

Women veteran-owned small businesses represent a burgeoning economic powerhouse in the military small business community. As of 2012, women veterans owned 383,302 businesses, generating $17.9 billion in sales. From 2007 to 2012, despite representing only 15.2 percent of all veteran-owned businesses, the number of women-veteran owned small businesses increased by 294.7 percent.

To learn more about additional opportunities for veterans available through the SBA, visit


Female entrepreneurs across the globe could have the opportunity to work with Walmart and eight other Fortune 500 companies, thanks to a new initiative.

The mega-retailer—along with Campbell SoupCoca-Cola, ExxonMobil, General MillsJohnson & Johnson, Mondelēz, PepsiCo, and Procter & Gamble—is taking part in a collaborative effort to source from more women-owned businesses (WOBs). The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the U.S., will track and publicly report the aggregated value of the sourcing done from WOBs each year for the next five years.

Walmart, which is spearheading the program, announced it during its Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit in Washington, D.C. This isn't the first time that the retail-giant has taken part in an effort of this kind, though never before at this scale. From 2011-2016, Walmart initially sourced over $20 billion from WOBs on its own, as part of its five-year Global WEE Initiative. The effort resulted in more than 1,500 WOB suppliers to-date, varying from food, to children's toys, to lingerie, to cleaning products, and more.

According to Kathleen McLaughlin, the chief sustainability officer at Walmart, the companies taking part in the larger initiative have a similar objective: to increase the awareness of the importance of sourcing from women's businesses.

Wells Fargo and Tuck Announce Scholarship Program for Diverse Businesses

Wells Fargo has announced the Wells Fargo Scholarship Fund for Diverse Businesses in collaboration with the Tuck School of Business. With $100,000 to fund 24 scholarships for the Tuck School of Business Minority Business Programs, certified minority, women, veteran, LGBT and disabled owned business entrepreneurs will be able to attend Tuck.

“We’re proud to continue our work with the Tuck School of Business Minority Business Program,” said Regina O. Heyward, senior vice president and head of Wells Fargo Supplier Diversity. “Diverse-owned businesses create jobs and support families and communities in every small town and big city in the U.S. At Wells Fargo, we’re focused on growing diverse businesses by offering executive training, providing access to capital, and working with external organizations to broaden opportunities that will benefit diverse- owned businesses, which are so vital to our country’s economy.”

Wells Fargo has set a goal of spending 15 percent of procurement dollars with certified diverse suppliers by 2020. To reach that goal, they’ve focused on two strategic areas: growing spend with certified diverse suppliers and working with business development organizations and the community to help build a strong network of diverse suppliers.

“Tuck MBE Programs is very excited about this expanded relationship with Wells Fargo that allows us to bring our curriculum, faculty and 37 years of experience developing diverse businesses to even more entrepreneurs from diverse communities from across the county,” said Len Greenhalgh, faculty director and professor of Management, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Diverse business owners interested in applying for a Wells Fargo Scholarship should contact Jade Melvin at 603-646-8214 or

The National Urban League released a comprehensive scorecard evaluating the presidential term of Barack Obama, giving the administration its second-highest rating of "Excellent."

"Throughout our history, the National Urban League has taken seriously our responsibility to hold the President of the United States accountable to the needs of urban America and communities of color," National Urban League President Marc H. Morial said. "During the Great Depression, Executive Secretary Eugene Kinkle Jones served on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 'Black Cabinet.' Lester Granger, who headed the League during World War II, is among those credited with persuading President Harry Truman to desegregate the Armed Forces. Whitney M. Young advised presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and was instrumental in the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act.

"Urban League Presidents Vernon Jordan, John Jacob and Hugh Price continued our engagement with the Presidents with whom they served to further the work of civil rights and secure support for Urban League programs."

"The National Urban League has regarded the first African-American Presidency with special significance, not simply because of its trailblazing status, but also because of the unique conditions under which President Barack Obama took office and served his two terms," Morial said. "He inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression, and was faced with Congressional opposition unprecedented in its intensity and sinister nature."

Morial said his organization harkened back to the famous question Ronald Reagan asked the nation during his sole debate against President Jimmy Carter: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

"We asked ourselves not only whether the nation as a whole is better off than it was eight years ago, but also whether Black America is better off," Morial said. " The answer to both questions is, unequivocally, yes."

The administration was given ratings of "Superior," "Excellent," "Good," "Fair" or "Poor" on a wide range of policy areas including jobs and the economy, education, criminal justice, civil rights, housing and others.

The full scorecard can be found at the following link:


In FY2015, the Federal government awarded $439.3 billion in contracts, down 19% from FY2010. The government remains an important market for growth-oriented small businesses – with U.S. small businesses awarded approximately $90 billion in government contracts by the Federal government.

For the fourth time since 2010, the OPEN for Government Contracting initiative from American Express released a survey looking at small business trends in the Federal procurement marketplace.

Notable findings from the Trends in Federal Contracting for Small Business study:

    • Bidding activity has rebounded strongly since its lowest point measured in 2013, during the recession. On average, active contractors submitted nearly 18 prime contract bids between 2013 and 2016, and participated in 11 bids as a subcontractor – similar to the levels measured in the 2010 survey.
    • Over the past year, the amount of time and money that active small business contractors have invested while seeking Federal contracting opportunities has averaged $148,124 – which represents a 72 percent increase over the past six years, and a 15 percent increase since 2013.
    • Only the largest active contractors (those with 50 or more employees or $5M+ in revenues) report they are more active in Federal procurement now compared to five years ago. 25 percent of active Federal contractors say they are more active in contracting now than they were five years ago, while 34 percent say they are less active, and 29 percent say it’s about the same.
    • Small business contractors report that there are now fewer bidding opportunities and increased competition. Nonetheless, over the past three years, nearly half of prime contract bids were successful, and two-thirds of subcontracting participation likewise yielded some contracting activity.


The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) has issued a robust list of planned procurements for the first quarter of 2017. Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) member firms are invited and encouraged to review the following roster of opportunities and prepare to bid on these projects individually or in partnership with other companies. AMAC was among a small group of organizations that recently received a briefing by MWAA DC Board members. The participants shared ideas to help increase diversity in MWAA contracting opportunities. As a result of that meeting, the MWAA Planned Procurements Report for Q1, 2017 was released to help businesses identify projects that they are best suited to pursue.    

Review the list here.


The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the business voice of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, has released the first-ever snapshot demonstrating the economic and social impact of America's LGBT business owners and entrepreneurs. The America's LGBT Economy report explores the revenues, types, sizes and geography of LGBT-owned businesses currently certified by NGLCC, as well as the number of jobs they create and the personal narratives of successful LGBT business owners who reflect the very best about America's innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.

NGLCC's "America's LGBT Economy" report can be viewed and downloaded at

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced seven awardees of $700,000 in new grant funding for continued projects to promote the development, success, and long-term survival of Native American firms eligible for assistance under the SBAs 7(j) Management and Technical Assistance Program.

The SBAs 7(j) Program helps provide specialized management and technical assistance to underserved markets and small business owners who are socially and economically disadvantaged. The program emphasizes entrepreneurial education, counseling, and training resources to help these firms succeed in federal, state, and local government markets for goods and services, and also as subcontractors to government prime contractors.

In making the announcement, Assistant Administrator for SBAs Native American Affairs David Sanborn said “We’re excited to be able to help fund these organizations to engage with Native American entrepreneurs across the county and strengthen the SBAs support network to provide more boots on the ground in local communities.”

Project funding for each of the seven $100,000 Native American Micro Enterprise Business Services grants is provided by the SBAs Office of Native American Affairs.

Functional areas of assistance regularly include strategic and operational planning and management; marketing, business development, and identification and capture of opportunities; accounting, bookkeeping, and financial analysis; contract management and compliance; information technology and systems development; and industry-specific requirements.

The seven grant awardees represent a range of diverse geographic tribal areas and industries. They will focus on helping to narrow the gap in business development services provided by the SBA to Native American firms. The awardees include:

      • Indian Dispute Resolution Services, Inc. (IDRS, Inc.),Plymouth, California
      • The Cherokee Nation,Tahlequah, Oklahoma
      • Oregon Native American Business and Entrepreneurial Network (ONABEN),Portland, Oregon and Tulsa, Oklahoma
      • Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma, Inc. (REI Oklahoma)), Durant, Oklahoma
      • The Native American Development Corporation (NADC), North Billings, Montana
      • Hi'ilei Aloha LLC, Honolulu, Hawaii
      • Central Plains Foundation, Inc. (GROW Nebraska), ), Holbrook, Nebraska

TheU.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is seeking proposals to support MBDA’s key initiatives through a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).

The BAA allows organizations to submit proposals for new programs, education, outreach, innovative projects, or sponsorships not addressed through the existing MBDA business center program.

All proposals must align with the Agency’s key priorities centered around supporting minority businesses that include: Inclusive Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship; Business and Economic Rehabilitation in the Gulf States; Federal Contracting Transition and Sustainability; MBE Community Business Access to Capital; and Business Innovation for the Next Generation.“

“This is an opportunity to leverage MBDA’s resources to support our MBEs beyond just our traditional business center program. We want to encourage innovation and provide a unique platform to launch new ideas and resources,” said MBDA National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo.

MBDA expects a total of approximately $2 million per year to fund the financial assistance awards under this announcement through Fiscal Year 2017. Awards are subject to funding availability

The BAA is not a method for awarding congressionally directed funds or existing funded awards. Funding for potential projects submitted in response to the BAA are contingent upon the availability of Fiscal Year 2016 and Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations.

The deadline to submit completed applications for the BAA is June 21, 2017.Applicants are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible to receive funding for Fiscal Year 2016. For more information visit and

TheNational Minority Business Council (NMBC) has announced the formal establishment of its NMBC Endowment Fund to be financed by contributors to its GoFundMe page "The initial funding level to be reached by October 1, 2016 is $20,000 and to be ultimately funded at $50,000 by 2020 or sooner," said John F. Robinsonpresident and CEO of the NMBC, Inc. The fund is seeking average contributions of $100 per contributor

As stated in the organization’s GoFundMe statement and purpose document, "The raising of the initial $20,000 by October 1 for the NMBC Endowment Fund will move the organization to a new plateau of becoming a more permanent organization over the short as well as the long term. For the organization to grow and reach its ultimate goal of having an endowment fund of $50,000 over the next few years by 2020 would ensure that the organization will be here for the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders."

The ultimate goal of any charitable organization is to ensure that it is in existence to serve the next generation of its members and clientele in a professional way that builds on its rich history and service to others.

The NMBC is a New York-based, 44-year old global business membership organization of small, minority, women and veteran-owned businesses providing services in the areas of procurement, education and training, advocacy, global business trading and women business development growth services and programs.

To contribute to the NMBC's Endowment Fund through its GoFundMe page, please go to,

All contributions to the NMBC Endowment Fund are fully tax deductible as the organization is a not-for-profit 501c tax exempt organization by the IRS.

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) introduced legislation to bring contracting and procurement opportunities to the estimated 86,000 LGBT-owned businesses in the state, as well as business owners with disabilities and veterans. The New York State Supplier Diversity Act would:

      • Make New York the first state to legislatively establish a comprehensive, statewide program to provide traditionally underrepresented small businesses with greater economic opportunity.
      • Create equal, unfettered access to New York state's nearly $240 billion contracting and procurement system across over 50,000 contracts.
      • Expand on recent National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)-led initiatives in Massachusetts and California, which will cultivate innovation, create jobs, and drive economic growth for an estimated 86,000 LGBT-owned, 25,000 veteran-owned, and 114,000 disability-owned businesses throughout the state.
      • Save New York taxpayers millions each year thanks to more competitive bids in a greatly diversified supplier pool.
      • Create a new Division of Supplier Diversity within the Office of General Services that would serve as a resource for the establishment, growth and success of small businesses owned by members of the LGBT, disability, or veteran communities.

"Nothing says 'Ever Upward' like New York leading the way in equality by creating greater access to the American Dream. By offering New Yorkers who are LGBT or with disabilities an equal seat at the table, the New York State Supplier Diversity Act has the power to economically advance diverse communities," says NGLCC Co-Founder & CEO Chance Mitchell.

"New York State currently has more than 50,000 contracts worth nearly $240 billion a year. The success of our state's Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise program has demonstrated that our state has an opportunity and responsibility to leverage those tremendous resources to ensure a seat at the table for those who remain underrepresented in state contracting or the business world. The Supplier Diversity Act will make New York a true engine of economic development, creating jobs and opportunities for the LGBT, disability and veteran communities," said Hoylman. The proposed bill names NGLCC as the official third-party certifier of LGBT businesses. LGBT business owners interested in the certification process can find information and an application at

The U.S. Supreme Court recently affirmed that universities may continue to provide students the substantial benefits of learning in an integrated and diverse student body by upholding the admissions program at issue in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. As argued in the amicus brief submitted by the National Education Association and joined by the American Federation of Teachers, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrialized Organization, the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union achieving diversity in public schools and universities remains a compelling government interest. The court agreed in a 4-3 decision.

“We are profoundly gratified by the courts decision in Fisher because the long-term benefits set in motion by programs like the one at the University of Texas, Austin have such a real and profound impact on the way society functions,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garca. “Our institutions of higher education need to continue to be able to use such programs, which provide a crucial foundation for achieving true equality throughout our society.”

On June 27, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a proposed rule that would increase the financial thresholds in the smaller reporting company definition. The proposal would expand the number of companies that qualify as smaller reporting companies, thus qualifying for certain existing scaled disclosures. The proposed rule would enable a company with less than $250 million of public float to provide scaled disclosures as a smaller reporting company, as compared to the $75 million threshold under the current definition. In addition, if a company does not have a public float, it would be permitted to provide scaled disclosures if its annual revenues are less than $100 million, as compared to the current threshold of less than $50 million in annual revenues. Review the proposed rule at

The U.S. Small Business Administration will award up to $125,000 in grants to 16 Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program recipients including state and local economic development agencies, business development centers, and colleges and universities and up to $200,000 in grants to five Small Business Technology Development Centers to support programs for innovative, technology-driven small businesses.

“We’re excited about partnering with these organizations to help entrepreneurs around the country learn about and compete for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs awards,” said John Williams, SBA Director of Innovation. The main goal of FAST is to provide more boots on the ground in local communities through our partner organizations to increase awareness about SBIR/STTRs early stage funding and level the playing field for entrepreneurs, especially those in underrepresented communities.

FAST is designed to stimulate economic development with outreach and technical assistance to science and technology-driven small businesses, with a particular emphasis on socially and economically disadvantaged firms, helping them to compete in federally-funded research and development through the SBIR and STTR Programs. The recipients of the FY 2016 FAST awards are:

Regular FAST State Organization up to $125K - Connecticut Innovations Incorporated, Kansas (Wichita State University), Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation, Lousiana (Louisiana State University and A&M College), Minnesota High Tech Association, Mississippi (Innovate Mississippi), New Mexico (The Regents of New Mexico State University), New York (The Research Foundation for the State University of New York), North Dakota (University of North Dakota), Ohio Aerospace Institute, Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center, South Dakota (Governor's Office of Economic Development), Texas (The University of Texas at San Antonio), Virginia (Center for Innovative Technology), Wisconsin (Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, UWEX), Wyoming (University of Wyoming).

SBTDC Up to $200K - Arkansas (University of Arkansas System), California (Riverside Community College District), Idaho (Boise State University), Nebraska (Board of Regents, Univ. of NE dba Univ. of NE at Omaha), Pennsylvania (Ben Franklin Technology Partners Corporation).

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is taking steps to ensure more minority and women-owned businesses receive state contracts. A 2015 study found the businesses are underrepresented among those awarded state contracts. Rauner signed an executive order that requires the state's purchasing office to establish a mentor program to assist minority and women-owned businesses. The office also must review how it sets goals for the number of contracts awarded to those companies.

The state will also study and potentially establish so-called "sheltered markets," in which contracts are set aside specifically for underrepresented businesses. Sheila Morgan, president and CEO of the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council calls the order "an important step for the minority business community and their ability to compete and grow."

On January 12, 2016, the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce issued a detailed statistical report( highlighting the disparity between the number of women business owners in America and their business revenues. This report, derived from the recently released2012 U.S. Census Survey of Business Ownerspoints out that women business owners are failing to achieve revenues on par with male-owned firms.

Women own 9.9 million U.S. firms representing 35.76 percent of all firms and generate$1.4 trillionin revenues annually. But, women-owned firms produce only 4.23% of all U.S. revenues. 70% of women-owned firms have less than$25,000in revenues annually. Only 1.74% have revenues over one million. Only 10% have paid employees. And, between 2007 and 2012, the average receipts generated by women-owned firms dropped by nearly$10,000annually. Firms owned by women of color are even more challenged: while 28% of all women-owned firms are owned by women of color, they secure only 14% of all women-owned revenues.

"The obstacles to growth facing women business owners are dramatically impacting their business revenues and profits," states Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce. "These struggles translate into massive opportunity losses for business owners, their employees, families and communities. It behooves every American to call upon political, governmental and business leaders to take action to open the doors to opportunity for women-owned firms."

Thirty-nine community-based organizations across the United States that provide assistance to disadvantaged entrepreneurs are set to receive $5 million in grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME). These organizations help low-income entrepreneurs gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses.

“By training low-income and disadvantaged micro-entrepreneurs on how to grow their businesses, particularly through the smart use of information technology, the PRIME Program helps small businesses thrive in a 21st century economy,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “The beauty of PRIME is that it assists small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs to become lender ready, complementing the roughly $140 million approved this year through SBA’s mission-based lending programs.”

This year’s 39 recipients come from 16 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The grants range from $35,000 to $200,000 and typically require at least 50 percent in matching funds or in-kind contributions. In total, 104 organizations applied for PRIME awards.

The SBA placed special emphasis in this year’s competition on applications for projects utilizing information technology and software to help small businesses start, strengthen and/or grow. Assisting small businesses with the tools needed to implement automated financial accounting, financial reporting, inventory management and web-based marketing and distribution is emerging as an industry best practice among SBA’s most successful microlenders.

This year’s awards also emphasized organizations participating in the SBA’s Community Advantage Program. This program provides mission-oriented, non-profit lenders access to SBA’s 7(a) loan guarantees to help small businesses that have outgrown microlending but are not able to access more traditional financing, including funding from SBA commercial lending partners. Twenty SBA Community Advantage lenders submitted applications, and 13 were selected for PRIME awards.

PRIME was created by Congress as part of the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act of 1999. Funds become available on September 30 and the grant is for one year.

For more information on PRIME grants and a list of this year’s grantees, visit

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order to increase opportunities for small businesses owned by women and minorities — including veterans, disabled and those of different sexual orientation — doing business with the state.

The order, "Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities in Pennsylvania," will "correct the course of the commonwealth with respect to state contracting opportunities for small diverse businesses," Wolf said.

Diversity is "something that is part of everything that makes up an economy, a community, a neighborhood, a family. And that's what this executive order is about. I need to make the point that Pennsylvania is open for business for everybody," Wolf said "A society that is unfair to some is unfair to all. If we want a healthy economy, if we want strong neighborhoods, if we want good families, we must have a fair society. And my hope is that this executive order is one small step in the direction of that fair society."

Curt Topper, secretary of the Department of General Services, said the best data the state has suggests that number of small businesses and diverse businesses doing business with Pennsylvania declined from about 10 percent to about 6 percent from 2010 to 2014.

The executive order:

• Creates an advisory council on diversity, inclusion and small business opportunities that would advise the governor's office and agencies under the governor's control;

• Renames the Bureau of Small Business Opportunities as the Bureau on Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities;

• Directs the advisory council and state agencies to consider ways to increase participation of small businesses and businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, disabled persons and lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered persons; and,

• Works to increase the participation of such businesses in the state's overall economy, not just in state contracting.

A leading researcher at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business has received a $1.5 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to study the effects of entrepreneurship education on entrepreneurial success.
The five-year project will work with leading startup support organizations in the United States to track the outcomes of a group of startups receiving a free, concentrated entrepreneurship curriculum.

“Many resources are thought to feed into entrepreneurial success, including technical knowledge, business acumen, professional and entrepreneurial networks and market conditions,” said Yael Hochberg, the Ralph S. O’Connor Associate Professor of Finance and Entrepreneurship at the Jones School. “However, very little evidence exists to support the notion that business acumen and education accelerate startup success. We believe our study will help develop sharp inferences that will contribute to our current understanding of factors contributing to entrepreneurial success.”

Hochberg, who is considered one of the foremost experts on accelerator programs and serves as managing director of the annual Seed Accelerator Rankings Project, is the grants principal investigator. This month she received the 2016 Ewing Marion Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship. The medal, which includes a $50,000 prize, is awarded annually to recognize a scholar early in his or her career as an associate or full professor whose research has made a significant contribution to entrepreneurship. Prior recipients of this award are at some of the most highly regarded universities in the U.S.

The last decade has seen the proliferation of new types of programs, such as accelerators (fixed-term, cohort-based programs with an educational and mentorship component that culminate in a pitch event), and the re-emergence and growth of incubators and entrepreneurship and innovation-focused co-working facilities, Hochberg said.

Our research agenda aims to explore these new institutions and their features, and to answer a number of fundamental questions about their nature and efficacy, Hochberg said.

We expect the results of our study to be of considerable interest to many groups, including accelerators, incubators, local governments considering entrepreneurship education programs and educational institutions, she said.

Professor Hochberg’s approach goes well beyond the standard at most universities today, said Rice University Provost Marie Lynn Miranda. While many are offering activities around entrepreneurship, Yael is establishing the evidence basis for what actually works in activating the entrepreneurial capabilities of students and in so doing, building a more robust program for students.

Other key team members of the grants research team are Eric Floyd, an assistant professor of accounting at the Jones School, and Daniel Fehder, a Ph.D. student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.

Congress’ year-end “omnibus” spending bill includes provisions to improve several programs at the Small Business Administration (SBA), Democrats on the House Small Business Committee announced in December. Rep. Nydia M. Velzquez (D-NY), the top Democrat on the Committee, said the measures would help small firms access capital, grow and create new jobs.

“Small businesses are critical to the U.S. economy and the bipartisan provisions included in the year-end spending bill will help many of them expand and create new jobs,” Velzquez said. “Letting small firms refinance debt through SBA’s 504 program will give many greater flexibility and free up resources to grow stronger. Likewise, the change we made to the SBIC program will channel more investment capital to promising startups. I’m pleased these measures were included in this package and thank my colleagues for working together on this bipartisan achievement.”

The legislation permanently reauthorizes the SBA’s “504 refinancing” program. That program allows small businesses to refinance debt under the 504/CDC program to reduce monthly payments and restructure debt. The language in the omnibus is modeled on legislation authored by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), the Commercial Real Estate and Economic Development Act.

Said Chu, “To meet our job creation goals, we must put more capital in the hands of job creators. Reinstating the SBA’s successful 504 refinancing program will do that by helping small business owners refinance billions of dollars in old debt at no cost to the taxpayer. This is a benefit to the entire economy. Now owners can focus their resources on hiring employees and growing their businesses.”

The legislation also expands and strengthens the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) initiative, which helps channel investment capital to small companies and fast growing startups. The legislation increases the cap that managers of SBICs can invest from $225 million to $350 million.

“Raising the leverage cap means more funding will be accessible to small firms seeking equity capital,” Velzquez said. “Dynamic companies in the SBIC program have a strong record of growing quickly and I was pleased to see this job creating measure included in the spending bill.”

The spending bill has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) has completed a National Survey that illuminates issues of Access to Capital among Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs). The Survey examines MBEs and "focuses on the internal factors, those within a minority firm's control, which may hamper their ability to obtain critical growth or acquisition capital." Education is key, the Survey finds, to improving access to capital, along with more opportunities for networking between capital providers and minority entrepreneurs.

Internal factors among MBEs that contribute to lack of access to venture and other forms of institutional capital include: the lack of growth-oriented succession planning for owners; lack of knowledge about sources of capital, combined with a lack of engagement by owners seeking funding alternatives beyond banks; and a negative perception of venture capital. MBE certification requirements may also inhibit owners from seeking institutional funding that is likely to make their businesses ineligible for certification.

Among the Survey's recommendations are online and on-site education promoted by networks such as NMSDC to teach MBEs best practices for fundraising, entrepreneurship in high-growth sectors, and better understanding of all types of financial tools, fostering an "overall level of financial sophistication to be able to interact in a substantive way with various fund managers." The Survey also concludes that relationships need to be significantly improved between networks of MBEs, such as NMSDC, and networks of investors.

Demographic shifts mean that in coming decades more than half of all Americans will belong to minority groups, greatly affecting employment and entrepreneurship which, along with small business ownership, is the greatest driver of wealth and job creation in the U.S. "Improving access to capital among underrepresented minority entrepreneurs is more than a social issue," the Survey states. "It is an economic imperative."

The National Survey on Access to Capital among Minority Business Enterprises was conducted in early 2015, using a representative sample of the population of interest - in this case, minority business enterprises certified by NMSDC. To review the Survey, please go to

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