Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship for Over 30 Years

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 www.grants.gov and www.mbda.gov


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, https://www.gofundme.com/NMBCEndowmentFund

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 www.nglcc.org/get-certified.

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 https://www.sec.gov/rules/proposed/2016/33-10107.pdf.

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(http://uswcc.org/wake-up-call) 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 http://www.sba.gov/content/prime-grantees.


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 www.nmsdc.org/wp-content/uploads/National-Access-to-Capital-Survey15.pdf.

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