Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced the launch of the Capital Preparation Program grant competition, which will allocate $93.5 million to help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs grow and expand their businesses. The largest grant competition in Commerce Department history will be administered by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), led by Don Cravins, the first Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development.
A bipartisan infrastructure agreement made MBDA a permanent agency last November, naming Undersecretary Clavins as the agency’s first permanent head and making similar efforts possible. MBDA is the only federal government agency dedicated solely to supporting minority businesses, businesses and entrepreneurs and helping them overcome the barriers to economic success that many women and minority communities continue to face across the country.
The Capital Readiness Initiative is spearheaded by Secretary Raimondo and Deputy Secretary Cravins, who have made equitable access to capital and resources for women and minority business owners a top priority since taking office at the Commerce Department. During the announcement of the plan, Deputy Secretary Clavins emphasized that inequality in access to capital remains an issue for women and business owners of color. He made it clear that one of the program’s main goals is to support underserved communities that have the ability to thrive but lack the investment.
“The capital readiness program will open the door for entrepreneurs,” said Under Secretary Clavins. “The biggest barrier facing underrepresented entrepreneurs, especially those of color, is access. MBDA can effectively launch initiatives to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, secure funding through the Treasury Department’s SSBCI capital program, and access understanding and addressing A network of unique challenges faced by minority entrepreneurs and other underserved entrepreneurs.”
In addition to direct investment, the capital readiness program will also aim to provide underserved communities with much-needed specialist training so they can start or scale operations in highly competitive industries. The program will provide funding for incubators and accelerators across the country that help and train minority and other underserved entrepreneurs seeking resources, tools and technical assistance in high-growth industries such as healthcare, technology and infrastructure experience and knowledge.
Women- and minority-owned businesses face unique challenges that the program hopes to address. A key area they have traditionally struggled with is gaining industry connections that are critical to business network development. The program will allow underserved businesses to connect with subject matter experts, vendors, and peer support so they can build connections they may not have had easy access to previously.
Another key issue the plan aims to address is the provision of resources for child care. Businesses owned by women of color are among the fastest-growing sectors in the economy, yet a lack of affordable child care is a persistent problem for them. The childcare solutions offered by the Capital Readiness Program Grant Competition address these concerns, allowing them to avoid being forced to sacrifice business needs when balancing work and family life.
“This new plan reflects the continuing efforts of President Biden and the Department of Commerce to
Historic commitment to underserved business owners and entrepreneurs,” Secretary Raimondo said. “Women and minority businesses and entrepreneurs have been hit the hardest during the pandemic, and they often lack the resources they need to stay in business. resource. We cannot let this happen again. That’s why capital readiness plans prioritize and encourage resources and tools, such as child care, that will ensure more people can start and scale businesses. “
MBDA will provide information and plan to host several webinars in January 2023 where business owners can learn more about capital preparation programs.