Letter from Under Secretary Donald R. Cravins Jr.
2022 was a historic year for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). This marks the first full calendar year since President Biden signed into law the Minority Business Development Act on November 15, 2021. It continues to be the honor of my lifetime to serve at the helm of MBDA during this exciting new chapter in the Agency’s 53-year history.
Congress and the Biden Administration mandated the elevation of the MBDA as the leader for America’s businesses and entrepreneurs of color. This Act grants MBDA a bold new mission to evolve and to both strengthen our efforts serving individual businesses and break down the systemic barriers holding back minority businesses and entrepreneurs. I’m excited to say our mission is firmly underway. Our Agency is a lready implementing policies and initiatives to fulfill its elevated role as the Federal Government’s driving force for businesses and entrepreneurs of color.
In my first 100 days, MBDA awarded millions of dollars in grants to expand the backbone of our Agency, which is our National Network of 88 Business Centers, Specialty Centers, and Grant Programs. We are also laying the groundwork to not only help individual businesses, but to create an economic system that offers equitable access and opportunities for all American businesses. This includes expanding our reach in rural communities, becoming the data clearinghouse for and about minority businesses, and guiding all Federal Agencies in prioritizing access and opportunities for minority-owned businesses in our collective mission to serve the American people.
We capped off the year by making history just one more time. MBDA launched the largest investment to support minority entrepreneurs and businesses of its kind in the Department of Commerce’s history, the Capital Readiness Program. This program dedicates $93.5 million to help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs start or scale their business, with the goal of closing the gaps in opportunity and access to capital for minority and non-minority entrepreneurs.
This is just the beginning, and in the coming weeks and months, MBDA will continue fulfilling our duties under this new law, not only to benefit today’s minority businesses, but also to break down systemic barriers so America’s next generation of entrepreneurs has every chance to succeed.
To everyone who helped MBDA reach this point, thank you. And to America’s businesses of color, to our future entrepreneurs, and to every American eager to achieve our Nation’s full potential, we won’t let you down.
MAKING HISTORY: MBDA LAUNCHES THE CAPITAL READINESS PROGRAM - NEARLY $100 MILLION TO EXPAND OPPORTUNITIES FOR UNDERSERVED ENTREPRENEURS
On Wednesday, December 21, 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce launched the Capital Readiness Program grant competition, which dedicates $93.5 million to help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs launch and scale their businesses.
The Capital Readiness Program will provide funding to incubators and accelerators across the country, with expertise to assist and train minority and other underserved entrepreneurs seeking resources, tools, and technical assistance to start or scale their businesses in high-growth industries such as healthcare, climate resilient technology, asset management, infrastructure, and more.
“The Capital Readiness Program will open doors for entrepreneurs,” said Donald Cravins, Jr., Under Secretary of the Minority Business Development Agency. “The greatest obstacle facing disadvantaged entrepreneurs, especially entrepreneurs of color, is access. MBDA can effectively launch the initiative to help entrepreneurs start and develop their business, access capital through the Department of Treasury’s SSBCI Capital Program, and access networks that understand and address the unique challenges minority entrepreneurs and other underserved entrepreneurs face.”
REGISTER TODAY! Starting in January, MBDA will host a series of informational pre-application webinars. The webinars will assist potential applicants in better understanding the Capital Readiness Program and the application requirements outlined in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). The webinars are scheduled on January 10, 17, and 24th 2023 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time.Official Press Release
EXPANDING MBDA’s NATIONAL NETWORK OF GRANT PROGRAMS
In 2022, the Minority Business Development Agency awarded more than $9 million in Federal grants, expanding its national network of business centers, specialty, and grant programs.
New Locations - MBDA Business Center Grant Program
MBDA awarded $2.1 million in grant funding to open six new MBDA Business Centers in Arkansas, Indiana, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin. We awarded these grants to organizations in each state to operate one of MBDA’s 88 business centers and provide technical assistance, business development services, and consulting to businesses and entrepreneurs of color. All of the selected organizations understand deeply the unique challenges and needs faced by minority-owned enterprises in their communities.
Official Press Release
Supplemental Grants to Expand MBDA’s Procurement Services
MBDA awarded $2.62 million to 26 existing MBDA Business Centers to expand their Federal procurement assistance services for minority-owned businesses, including the hiring of procurement specialists to offer their clients the best resources and opportunities possible to successfully navigate the government contracting landscape.
Official Press Release
Minority Serving Institution Grant Program – Launching Student Entrepreneurship Projects
MBDA awarded $2.62 million in grant funding to six Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to develop entrepreneurship pilot programs whose purpose is to develop curriculum, capital opportunities, technical training services for undergraduate students to become the next generation of entrepreneurs.
The grants were awarded to Chaminade University of Honolulu in Honolulu, HI, Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA, Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, Bowie State University in Bowie, MD, St. Augustine College in Chicago, IL, and Universidad del Sagrado Corazon in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Official Press Release
Innovative Access to Capital Grant Program
MBDA awarded $1.68 million for two grant projects led by FinRegLab, Inc. and the National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB). The purpose of these projects is to address historical barriers to capital for MBEs by leveraging non-traditional financial resources, technology, and innovative lending practices.
Official Press Release
2022 NATIONAL Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week
September 18 – 24, 2022, the Nation celebrated the 2022 National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week to recognize the achievements and contributions of minority business owners and enterprises and promote economic equality.
The National MED Week Conference is the Federal government’s foremost annual gathering and celebration of the minority business community. The conference is a forum for minority entrepreneurs, business owners, and stakeholders to engage with the community and learn about current industry trends, key resources, and tools to grow and improve their business. The MED Week Awards Ceremony celebrated individuals and organizations for their exceptional commitments and contributions to minority business growth.
The 2022 National MED Week conference was the first since President Biden’s enaction of the Minority Business Development Act of 2021. The MED Week theme, “Power in Capital, Strength in Equity” highlighted MBDA’s and the Biden Administration’s mission to break down the minority business community’s greatest barrier: access to capital, contracts, and markets. Equitable access will empower minority entrepreneurs and businesses and, ultimately, create a stronger economy for all Americans.
2022 MED Week culminated with MBDA’s third annual Buy MBE Day, a national campaign encouraging all Americans to support and engage with minority-owned businesses in their communities. MBDA led a successful support and awareness campaign via social media encouraging people to support MBEs, garnering over 2 million impressions across social media platforms.
MBDA Publishes Key Study and Data to Guide Effective Policy for Minority Business Enterprise
MBDA released The Probability of Winning Federal Contracts: An Analysis of Small Minority Owned Firms. A study that found on an industry-by-industry basis the odds of non-8(a) minority-owned small disadvantage businesses winning contracts, all else equal (size, age, legal organization, level of government clearance) were lower than the odds of other small firms winning contracts. The findings provide compelling evidence to support minority business enterprises in Federal contracting. The report was submitted and accepted for the record by the U.S. Congress.
MBDA produced new MBE fact sheets by race and ethnicity, and fifty-one MBE fact sheets by State including the District of Columbia that detail demographic and economic data related to minority-owned businesses.
MBDA developed and launched a new Research and Data landing page on the MBDA website to house and disseminate information to the public. The landing page features MBDA commissioned work and other publications originating from other viable sources.
MBDA and the Department of Transportation’s Memorandum of Understanding
The Minority Business Development Act mandates MBDA to lead Federal coordination efforts promoting equitable access and opportunities for MBEs across the Federal Government. MBDA is fulfilling that mandate with the Agency’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Transportation (DOT).
On September 20, 2022, MBDA Under Secretary Donald R. Cravins, Jr. and DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg formalized a partnership to prioritizing minority business in the infrastructure and transportation procurement space arising from the $1.2 trillion in Federal investment under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Under this partnership, DOT and MBDA committed to increasing the number of MBEs in the transportation supply chain, promoting Federal resources for MBEs in the transportation sector, and leveraging MBDA’s National Network of 88 centers and programs to promote procurement opportunities through DOT.
MBDA and NMSDC’s Memorandum of Understanding
On October 31, 2022, MBDA and the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Inc. (NMSDC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to empower the minority business community. NMSDC, one of the largest minority business-serving organizations in the Nation, and MBDA, the only Federal Agency solely dedicated to the growth and competitiveness of MBEs, are working together to:
- expand minority contractor opportunities available through Federal investments like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the CHIPS Act;
- build public awareness about the programs, services, and events offered by each organization;
- identify opportunities to work together and participate in conferences, workshops, seminars, and other educational outreach activities; and
- increase the participation of minority entrepreneurs and business owners in various supply chains and provide access to public-private partnerships of both parties.