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Capital Readiness Program - FAQs

The below FAQs are for informational purposes only and are intended solely to assist potential applicants in better understanding the MBDA Capital Readiness Program and the application requirements set forth in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for this program. The FAQs do not and are not intended to supersede, modify, or otherwise alter applicable statutory or regulatory requirements, or the specific application requirements set forth in the NOFO. In all cases, applicable statutory and regulatory mandates, and the requirements set forth in the NOFO, shall prevail over any inconsistencies contained in the below FAQs.

MBDA will update these FAQs throughout the competition as it receives additional questions or requests for clarification.

 

Preliminary Questions

1) What is this competition?

MBDA published Notice of Funding Opportunity MBDA-OBD-2023-2007775 to seek applications for funding under the MBDA Capital Readiness Program (Program). This Program is designed to help close the entrepreneurship gap between socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI) and non-SEDI. This NOFO requests applications from qualified organizations that have the expertise to provide technical assistance for entrepreneurs starting or scaling their businesses who are seeking various forms of capital. Specifically, MBDA expects this Program to serve SEDI-owned businesses that are applying, have previously applied, or plan to apply to an SSBCI capital program or other government program that supports small businesses.

The competition seeks applicants that:

  1. help SEDI entrepreneurs build capacity;
  2. attract and provide access to capital opportunities; and
  3. attract and provide access to networks.

See Section 1.A of the NOFO. The proposed activities may resemble the service models of incubators (focusing on early-stage technical assistance for new entrepreneurs) or accelerators (providing emerging-stage technical assistance to businesses ready to expand or scale), or provide a combination of both service models.

See the NOFO and the FAQs below for more information about this Program, how to apply for this funding opportunity, and what could make an application competitive.

2) I am an entrepreneur or small business owner, and I am looking to launch or scale my business. Can I receive funding under this competition to help my business?

No, this program does not provide grants to entrepreneurs or small business owners directly to grow their own businesses. Rather, the funding under this program will go to entities who will provide technical assistance services designed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners build the skills to launch or scale their businesses. For eligibility information, please see Section III.A of the NOFO.

Once the awardees are selected and the Capital Readiness Program is operational, we encourage you to apply to receive technical assistance services. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit our website at MBDA.gov to learn more about the nearest MBDA Business Center or other MBDA technical assistance programs that are currently serving businesses in your area.

 

Application Process

3) How do I apply for this funding opportunity?

  • Step 1
    Read the entire NOFO. An incomplete application, or an application that does not address required program objectives and priorities may not be reviewed or considered for funding. Applicants are also encouraged to participate in pre-application webinars, and review supporting materials, such as FAQs and the “How to Apply for a Grant” videos. Visit MBDA.gov to see available materials.
    Also, consider sending a voluntary Email of Intent to ssbci@mbda.gov. See page 15 of the NOFO for additional information and sample text.
  • Step 2
    Become familiar with MBDA, including its mission, vision, programs and initiatives. Click here to learn more about our current portfolio of programs. Get familiar with our most recent Annual Performance Report to gain insight into our agency’s accomplishments.
  • Step 3
    1. The SAM is the official U.S. government system that consolidated the capabilities of several government-wide registries including the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) System. Applicants without a current Sam.Gov account must register with SAM.gov to do business with the federal government It may take up to a couple of weeks to receive the UEI, so we encourage prospective applicants to register early.
    2. For applicants with an existing Sam.Gov account: On April 4, 2022, the identifier was changed from the DUNS number to the Unique Entity ID (UEI), issued by SAM.gov. Learn more about the transition and how to retrieve your assigned UEI here.
    3. Your UEI and Sam.Gov account must be active in order to start your application in the Grants.gov system. Unfortunately, MBDA is not able to extend the deadline for individual applicants who are unable to provide their UEI and complete an application by the competition deadline.
    4. Register in the Grants.gov system. Your application must be submitted online through Grants.gov in order to be filed with MBDA.
  • Step 4
    Write the proposal for submission and submit by no later than February 28, 2023, by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. This is the final step in the application process and cannot be completed unless the applicant has registered with each of the stated entities above. Assess your completed application package, ensure all the necessary and required information and forms are entered, check the package for errors, then click the “Submit" button. Once you have submitted your application you will receive a confirmation email that your application was successfully submitted, and a tracking number to track your application.

4) I am an entrepreneur or small business owner, and I am looking to launch or scale my business. Can I receive funding under this competition to help my business?

No, this program does not provide grants to entrepreneurs or small business owners directly to grow their own businesses. Rather, the funding under this program will go to entities who will provide technical assistance services designed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners build the skills to launch or scale their businesses. For eligibility information, please see Section III.A of the NOFO.

Once the awardees are selected and the Capital Readiness Program is operational, we encourage you to apply to receive technical assistance services. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit our website at MBDA.gov to learn more about the nearest MBDA Business Center or other MBDA technical assistance programs that are currently serving businesses in your area.

5) What is the difference between a grant and a cooperative agreement?

The key difference between a grant and a cooperative agreement is that under a cooperative agreement, the Federal agency has substantial involvement in the operation of the program and the technical assistance provided. See 2 CFR 200.1. All Capital Readiness Program awards will be cooperative agreements.

6) Why is it important to understand the competition funding announcement (i.e., the NOFO)?

The NOFO outlines requirements for eligible entities interested in applying for an award under this competition. Applications that do not meet application requirements may not be reviewed. The NOFO also identifies program requirements that grantees (i.e., the applicants ultimately selected for funding), must adhere to. We strongly encourage all interested applicants and grantees to read the NOFO in its entirety to understand application and program requirements.

7) What are some of the reasons an application could be unsuccessful?

  • Applicants failed to submit a full multi-year budget for the entire performance periods and budget narratives, as required by the NOFO.
  • Applicants’ application failed to propose a non-federal cost share that is in alignment with the requirement in the NOFO.
  • Applicants' application is not aligned with the program objectives.
  • Applicants’ application failed to propose and justify its numerical goals for the NOFO performance metrics.
  • Applicants failed to submit a complete application.

8) Will there be a pre-application webinar?

Yes. MBDA will conduct a series of pre-application webinars from 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Eastern time on the following dates with focus areas noted below:

  • JANUARY 10, 2023: Webinar I – Competition overview, Program priorities and objectives, key dates, live Question and Answer session
  • JANUARY 17, 2023: Webinar II – Application review criteria, live Question and Answer session
  • JANUARY 24, 2023: Webinar III – Budget best practices and pitfalls to avoid, measuring success and performance, live Question and Answer session

Participants should register at least 24 hours in advance of the teleconference. Click here MBDA.gov to register and view recordings of the teleconferences, as well as other additional information.

9) I won’t be able to attend the webinars live. Will they be recorded and posted on MBDA’s website?

Yes, MBDA will record the pre-application webinars and will post links to those recordings at www.mbda.gov.

10) How many awards will be made pursuant to this NOFO?

Pursuant to this funding opportunity, MBDA expects to make 35-46 awards.

 

Eligibility Information

11) Who may apply for funding under this NOFO?

Eligible applicants are limited to:

  • Non-profit organizations,
  • Private sector entities (defined as entities that are not public sector entities). This includes, for example, for-profit entities of any type, including sole-proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations, but does not include public sector entities, such as Federal, State, Local, or Tribal Governments, agencies, or any of their instrumentalities,
  • Institutions of higher education, and
  • A consortium of two or more of any of the above-mentioned eligible applicants. In a consortium application, there must be a designated lead applicant; the lead applicant would enter into the award agreement with MBDA and assume primary operational and financial responsibility for completing the project should an award be made.

MBDA is not authorized to provide awards to individuals under this BAA, and applications from individuals will not be considered under this request.

12) Are current MBDA grantees, including existing Business Centers, eligible to apply for funding under this NOFO?

Yes, if a current MBDA grantee is an otherwise eligible entity under the eligibility categories in this NOFO, it would be eligible to apply under this NOFO. Receipt of other MBDA funds does not render an applicant ineligible. Similarly, receipt of other MBDA funds does not make an otherwise ineligible entity eligible under this NOFO.

13) Are applicants who have received or plan to receive funding from Treasury’s SSBCI technical assistance program(s) eligible to apply for these funds?

Yes, if that entity is an otherwise eligible entity under the eligibility categories in this NOFO, it would be eligible to apply. Receipt of other Federal funds does not render an applicant ineligible. Similarly, receipt of other federal funds does not make an otherwise ineligible entity eligible under this NOFO.

14) Are state, local, territorial, tribal governments eligible to apply for funding under this NOFO?

No, state, local, territorial, and tribal government entities are not eligible applicants under this NOFO. However, eligible applicants could consider forming strategic alliances with such entities to assist their efforts to drive SEDI participation to their programs.

15) What is initial application screening process?

Prior to the formal review process, each application will receive an initial administrative screening to ensure that all required forms, signatures, and documents are present. An application may not be evaluated by the review panel if:

  1. The application is received after the closing date.
  2. The application package does not contain mandatory items (see Section IV. B of the NOFO).
  3. The project fails to address program objectives and priorities (see Section I of the NOFO).

MBDA, in its sole discretion, may continue review of applications with minor defects that may be easily rectified or cured.

 

Application Review Process

16) How will my application be scored?

All complete applications will be reviewed by at least three individuals and scored against the merit review criteria provided in Section V(A) of the NOFO. Applications will receive a score out of a possible 110 points (including any bonus points). Applications that receive an overall average of 65 points or more are eligible to be considered for funding.

17) What are the merit review criteria for this program?

Applicants should review the NOFO for a complete breakdown of the merit criteria for this funding opportunity. The number of points that can be earned for each category of criteria is listed below, with 110 points being the maximum total that can be earned including bonus points. The NOFO further allocates points within each broad category.

Project Goals and Proposed Solutions (40 points)
Organizational Capacity (Resources and Assets) (40 points)
Budget and Timeline (20 points)
Bonus Point Categories (up to a maximum of 10 points total)

18) How do selection factors impact the competition?

The merit review score is used to evaluate applications based on how well the application met the merit review criteria identified in the NOFO. Applications that scored at least 65 points are then eligible for consideration by the Selection Review Panel, which will consist of no more than five federal employees. The Selection Review Panel will apply the selection factors identified in the NOFO to the applications and recommend to the Selecting Official a portfolio of applications for funding in accordance with their application of the selection factors. The Selecting Official makes the final recommendation regarding the funding of applications under this NOFO. The Selecting Official retains discretion to select and recommend an application for funding that was not recommended by the selection review panel based on one or more of the selection factors.

19) What are the selection factors for this NOFO?

The selection factors for this funding opportunity are:

  • The extent to which the application meets the overall objectives and priorities of the MBDA Capital Readiness Program as provided in Section I.A.
  • Likelihood that the applicant will be able to assist SEDI-owned businesses with producing high-quality applications to state SSBCI programs or other similar government programs that support small businesses.
  • Demonstrated ability to provide high quality technical assistance.
  • The performance of the applicant under previous Federal financial assistance awards, as well as the performance of any third parties the applicant identifies who will carry out a substantial portion of the project.
  • The availability of funds.
  • The extent to which the application demonstrates an effective plan to ensure that SEDI entrepreneurs benefit from available resources.
  • The likelihood that the applicant and its proposed partners will be able to effectively engage with one or more SEDI groups.
  • The likelihood that the proposal will benefit the SEDI business ecosystem in a lasting way (i.e., sustainability and lasting impact).
  • Diversity of SEDI needs targeted - The extent to which the project supports MBDA’s goal of balance in distribution of program funds within the overall portfolio of awards to serve a wide range of SEDI groups. Recognizing that the needs of various SEDI groups vary widely, applicants may design programs that target the needs specific SEDI sub-groups.
  • The extent to which the project supports MBDA’s goals of balance in distribution of program funds within the overall portfolio of awards, including balance in geographic locations, business sectors, and/or life cycles of businesses targeted. Note: given the widespread need for support for early-stage services for entrepreneurs, MBDA encourages applicants to include services for new entrepreneurs and/or businesses in the early stages of the business lifecycle as part of its offerings.
  • The extent to which the proposal aligns with MBDA’s mission.

20) How long does the application review process take? When will I find out the results of the competition?

The anticipated timeline for processing awards is between ninety (90) and one hundred and twenty (120) days from the closing date for receipt of applications. The anticipated award start date is July 1, 2023. MBDA a anticipates announcing a list of award recipients prior to the start of the award period.

21) What is the project/award period?

Subject to availability of funding, MBDA expects to issue awards for a total term of four years from July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2027. The initial budget year will be 12 months. Subsequent budget years will be for 12-month terms, as outlined below.

Year Fiscal Year Months Budget Year
Year 1 FY23 12 months July 1, 2023 June 30, 2024
Year 2 FY24 12 months July 1, 2024 June 30, 2025
Year 3 FY25 12 months July 1, 2025 June 30, 2026
Year 4 FY26 12 months July 1, 2026 June 30, 2027

 

22) When is the submission deadline?

All applications must be received on or before February 28, 2023 at 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time (E.T). Applications may be submitted starting from the publication date of this NOFO up to the deadline above. Applications received after this time will not be reviewed or considered for funding. Applications must be submitted electronically via Grants.gov.

Budget

23) How much funding can I request in my application?

Applicants may propose projects for up to $750,000 per year for four years under this Program for a maximum award amount of $3 million dollars over the four-year project period. MBDA encourages applicants to request yearly budgets of $500,000, $625,000, or $750,000 in accordance with the proposed project’s activities and needs.

Applicants are required to provide a non-Federal cost share as part of this program. The required non-Federal cost share (also commonly referred to as matching funds, matching share, non-federal cost share, or non-federal share) is calculated as a percentage of the total funding that the applicant requests. Applicants should note that the amount of funding they request will determine what matching funds the applicant is required to provide as a condition of funding. See Section II.A and III.B of the NOFO and the FAQs below for additional information.

24) The NOFO discusses a maximum amount for an MBDA grant, but can applicants apply for less than that amount?

Yes, an applicant can apply for less than the maximum amount stated in the NOFO. MBDA encourages applicants to develop compelling proposals that efficiently use federal dollars.

25) If my application is selected for funding, am I required to provide any additional money as a non-Federal cost share (i.e. “cost match” or “matching share”)?

Yes, unless you apply for and are granted a wavier, your organization will be required to provide the required non-Federal cost share. The required amount of the cost match is calculated as a percentage of the total amount of MBDA funding requested.

As explained in the chart below, applicants that request up to $2 million total will be required to provide a 10% non-Federal cost share. Applicants requesting between $2 million and $2.5 million will be required to provide a 15% non-Federal cost share. Applicants requesting between $2.5 million and $3 million will be required to provide a 25% non-Federal cost share. See Section II.A and III.B of the NOFO and the FAQs below for additional information.

Tier Level Yearly Budget Amount Required Non-Federal Share Estimated Total Federal Funding (Over Four Years) Estimated Total Non-Federal Share (Over Four Years)
Tier 1 Up to $500,000 10% Up to $2,000,000 Up to $200,000
Tier 2 From $500,001 to $625,000 15% From $2,000,001 to $2,500,000 From $300,001 to $375,000
Tier 3 From $625,001 to $750,000 25% From $2,500,001 to $3,000,000 From $625,001 to $750,000

Note: if the applicant’s proposal is selected for funding but receives less than the amount of funding requested, the percentage will be calculated based on the total amount of funding received from MBDA.

26) How can I meet the Non-Federal cost share or matching requirement?

All cost sharing or matching must be consistent with the requirements of 2 CFR 200.306. Awardees may meet the non-Federal matching requirement by using (i) cash or in-kind contributions, without regard to whether the contribution is made by a third party if the contributions meet the requirements in 2 CFR 200.306(b)(1)-(7); and (ii) Federal funds received from other Federal programs only if those programs allow funding to be used for cost sharing purposes. If contributions include Federal funds received from other Federal programs, the applicant must attest that such program funding may be used for cost sharing purposes.

In-kind contributions must be documented and must be directed towards eligible project costs and meet applicable Federal cost principles and other requirements of the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards at 2 CFR Part 200.

Revenue may be, but is not required to be, generated from fees for service, client fees, membership fees, or other appropriate fees associated with services or activities funded through this Program as long as they are approved by MBDA. Any income generated may be used towards the matching requirement unless the matching requirement is met from other cash or in-kind sources. Any income generated in excess of the matching requirement must be used to carry out the activities of the program authorized by the award (2 C.F.R. 200.307(e)(2)). Awardees cannot charge fees so high that Program-funded services and activities are not accessible to a broad range of SEDI entrepreneurs and SEDI-owned businesses.

The budget narrative, SF-424A, and commitment letters should clearly and consistently document the total project budget and should delineate and substantiate matching share, both cash and in-kind, including appropriate valuations.

27) I do not believe my organization can afford to provide the full amount of the minimum cost match. Can I request a waiver of the matching requirement?

Yes, applicants may request a waiver of the matching requirement. If you intend to request a waiver, you must submit a waiver request with your application, including a justification for the waiver, supporting documentation, and the amount being sought. MBDA will only grant waiver requests if it determines in its sole discretion that the applicant has demonstrated a showing of substantial need for the waiver amount requested. Note: If an applicant has requested a waiver, the applicant must also submit a plan to meet the matching share if they wish to be considered for funding in the event that waiver is not granted.

28) The NOFO indicates that applicants must include a budget narrative, but the required SF424A Budget Information Non-Construction Programs form seems to cover that information. Are those the same?

No, the Budget Narrative and the SF-424A (Budget Information Non-Construction Programs) are separate and distinct required documents. The SF-424A identifies the totals per budget line item. Applicants should submit one SF-424A form for each budget year. The budget narrative identifies and justifies how the funds in each budget line item will be used to support the proposed project and links each line item to its relevant commitment letter or funding source. Budget narrative line items and whole budget totals should mathematically match the total project costs listed in the appropriate totals fields of the SF-424A and question 18, line g (“TOTAL”) of the SF-424. The budget narrative and each SF-424A (one per budget year) should clearly and consistently delineate federal funds and matching share funds, both cash and in-kind. MBDA strongly encourages applicants to review Section IV(B)(4) of the NOFO for additional information.

29) Should the budget reflect funds allotted by year or for the entire period of performance?

Applicants should break down their budget by year. For the Budget narrative and the Standard Form 424A (Budget Information – Non-Construction Programs) you should submit information for EACH budget year, including a separate SF-424A for each year.

30) Can grant funds be used to provide wages or stipends to program participants?

No. The grant funds are only to be used to provide technical assistance service delivery to program participants (i.e., entrepreneurs or businesses). Direct transfer of federal funds or non-federal matching share funds to program participants is not allowed under this Program.

31) Can I charge indirect costs to this project? How do applicants without a current or pending negotiated indirect cost rate agreement account for indirect costs in the Budget Narrative?

If indirect costs are included in the project budget, the applicant must include documentation to support the indirect cost rate it is using by submitting a copy of its current, approved negotiated indirect cost rate agreement (NICRA). See NOFO Section IV at page 14 (Indirect Cost Rate Agreement) for full details.

If the applicant does not have a current or pending NICRA, the applicant can elect to apply the 10 percent de minimis rate to modified total direct costs (MTDC). The definition of MTDC can be found at 2 CFR 200.1. If electing to use the de minimis rate, the applicant should include a statement in the budget narrative stating that is does not have a current (or provisional) negotiated indirect rate and is electing to charge the de minimis rate (see 2 CFR § 200.414(f)).

If the applicant would like to apply for a NICRA the applicant will be required to obtain such a rate in accordance with Section B.06 of the Department of Commerce Financial Assistance Standard Terms and Conditions, dated November 12, 2020 available at this link.

32) Will we be expected to attend each conference for each budget year?

For the first budget year only, applicants must budget for two personnel to attend the MBDA Capital Readiness Program Implementation Meeting in person in Washington, DC.

For each budget year (including the first year), applicants should include in their SF 424A budget forms and budget narrative travel costs for up to two (2) personnel (one of whom must be the project director) to attend two events listed below. The conference location may vary, and applicants should use their judgment. MBDA will notify applicants no later than 2 months before each conference whether there will be a virtual attendance option for these events. In the event of a virtual conference, applicants will be allowed to reallocate the estimated travel expenses to other budget line items.

  1. Minority Enterprise Development Week
  2. National Training Conference

 

Application Materials

33) What must be included in an application for this competition?

Applicant should review the entire NOFO to understand what is required for an application to be considered for funding. Applications for the Program must be complete and follow the format described in the NOFO. A complete application packet consists of the following forms and required submissions described below. Applications that fail to include all the necessary elements may not be reviewed or considered and may be disqualified.

Required Application Content
1 Project Abstract One (1) page limit
2 Project Narrative Twenty (20) page limit
3 Supporting Documents (i.e., letters of commitment, resumes)  
4

Standard Forms

  • SF-424 (Application for Federal Assistance)
  • SF-424A (Budget Information Non-Construction Programs)
  • SF-424B (Assurances for Non-Construction Programs)
  • CD-511 (Certification Regarding Lobbying)
  • SF-LLL (Disclosure of Lobbying Activities)
 
5 Budget Narrative  
6 Letters of Commitment (from applicants who are working with other organizations with strong track records of working with SEDI)  
7 Indirect Cost Rate (ICR) Agreement Documentation (if applicable)  

Throughout the review process, MBDA reserves the right to seek clarification and corrected or missing documents in writing from applicants.

34) What information must be included in the Project Narrative?

Section IV(B)(2) of the NOFO lists in depth the information that applicants are required to include in their Project Narrative. The Project Narrative is one of the most important parts of your application, and MBDA strongly encourages applicants to review the NOFO carefully and ensure that all required information is included.

35) What supporting documents must be included in an application for this program?

Applicants should review the entire NOFO to understand what suggested and/or required supporting documents should be submitted as part of their application. For example, the applicant must provide in the Supporting Documents section of the application a bio or resume showing relevant experience of the applicant’s key leader(s), for example President/CEO, to oversee the success of the proposed project, as well as for the key project personnel who will lead the project. See page 23 of the NOFO for a list of required documents.

Please note that applicants should have ONE Budget Narrative that covers all budget years, ONE SF-424 that covers all budget years, and FOUR SF-424As (one SF-424A for each budget year).

36) Do you have to have your staff positions completely filled with the application submission or can you designate open roles and people that will fill in the interim?

The application merit evaluation considers the knowledge, experience, and qualifications of the key project personnel, but if the individuals are not yet in place, awardees will be given a reasonable window of time to fill the positions.

 

What Makes an Application Competitive?

37) What are the primary program objectives and priorities that must be addressed i

Section I.A of the NOFO gives important and detailed information about the Capital Readiness Program priorities and objectives. The primary objective for this funding opportunity is to award cooperative agreements to eligible entities for the operation of technical assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs under three Program Pillars:

  1. Access to Capital
  2. Access to Networks
  3. Capacity Building

The proposed activities may resemble the service models of incubators (focusing on early-stage technical assistance for new entrepreneurs) or accelerators (providing emerging-stage technical assistance to businesses ready to expand or scale), or provide a combination of both service models. MBDA seeks to fund holistic programs for entrepreneurs, not one-off services. Activities and services that are provided as part of a multiple week curriculum seeking to graduate participants will be viewed as more competitive. MBDA strongly encourages applicants to carefully review Section I.A as they prepare their applications.

38) Where must applicants address program objectives and program priorities within the application?

Applicants must address the program objectives and program priorities in the applicant narrative. See Section IV(B)(2) of the NOFO for more detailed information. Within the project description of the applicant narrative, applicants are required to address the needs of the SEDI population(s) it proposes to target and how that applicant (and any strategic alliance organizations) is prepared to drive SEDI participation in its project. Applicants are also required to identify whether they propose to serve early-stage entrepreneurs or later stage entrepreneurs.

39) What can I do to make my application competitive?

Competitive applications will:

  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the business environment, Capital landscape, and government program opportunities in the identified geographic area, industry, and/or for the SEDI entrepreneurs that the proposal proposes to serve. This includes a demonstrated familiarity and understanding in state SSBCI programs or other government programs that support small businesses.
  • Clearly identify SEDI entrepreneurs’ needs or barriers in launching or scaling businesses, accessing Capital and accessing networks in a defined geographic area, industry, and/or market segment.
  • Clearly delineate strategies to provide effective tailored technical assistance to overcome barriers that inhibit access to Capital and access to networks for SEDI-owned businesses and to leverage business ecosystems to stimulate commercialization. Proposed strategies and solutions to the above-identified needs must align with and address all three Program Pillars (capacity building, access to Capital, and access to networks). Proposals should provide evidence illustrating how funds received through this competition will not only help launch new businesses and/or scale existing businesses that produce good jobs,1 but also promote a region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem or promote more SEDI entrepreneur participation in traditionally non-SEDI industries. MBDA seeks to fund holistic programs for entrepreneurs, not one-off services. Activities and services that are provided as part of a multiple week curriculum seeking to graduate participants will be viewed as more competitive.
  • Demonstrate a successful track record in working with one or more SEDI groups or (for applicants who have not historically served SEDI groups) demonstrate commitments from organizations with track records in working with one or more SEDI groups, such as community-based organizations and HBCUs, TCUs, or MSIs. The proposal must identify one or more SEDI group’s needs it proposes to target. See Section IV.B.2.d.ii for more information about alliances and commitments.
  • Demonstrate a successful track record in working with early-stage businesses or working with emerging businesses that are poised to raise Capital, that have successfully raised Capital, or that have exited via a sale. The proposal must identify where in the business lifecycle its target participants are – i.e., whether the proposal proposes to serve mostly early-stage businesses, emerging businesses, or a mix of both. The proposal should note the industry(ies)/sector(s)/business stage(s) that they serve and their track record in serving those entrepreneurs. See Section IV.B.2.d.iii for more information.
  • Demonstrate an effective network of contacts in the investment ecosystem that the applicant and/or strategic alliances can leverage to provide program participants with capital raising opportunities.
  • Propose outreach strategies to maximize participation of SEDI entrepreneurs and increase the likelihood of success in achieving performance goals.
  • Provide a non-Federal match of 10% to 25% of the total requested award amount (see Sections II.A and III.B, below).

40) For this Program, what does “Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individual” (SEDI) mean?

For this Program, a SEDI-owned firm is:

  1. a business that is owned and controlled by individuals or whose current majority founders are individuals who have had their access to credit on reasonable terms diminished compared to others in comparable economic circumstances, due to their:
    1. membership in a group that has been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias within American society;
    2. gender;
    3. veteran status;
    4. limited English proficiency
    5. disability;
    6. long-term residence in an environment isolated from the mainstream of American society;
    7. membership in a federally or state-recognized Indian Tribe;
    8. long-term residence in a rural community;
    9. residence in a U.S. territory;
    10. residence in a community undergoing economic transitions (including communities impacted by the shift towards a net-zero economy or deindustrialization); or
    11. membership in an underserved community.
  2. a business enterprise that certifies that it is owned and controlled by individuals whose residences are in Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Investment Areas, as defined in 12 C.F.R. § 1805.201(b)(3)(ii);
  3. a business enterprise that certifies that it will build, open, or operate a location in a CDFI Investment Area, as defined in 12 C.F.R. § 1805.201(b)(3)(ii); or
  4. a business enterprise that certifies that it is located in a CDFI Investment Area, as defined in 12 C.F.R. § 1805.201(b)(3)(ii).

41) Does an applicant’s proposal need to address every group or community that’s covered in the SEDI definition?

No, MBDA recognizes that the needs among different SEDI groups may vary significantly, and not all SEDI group needs may be targeted at once by any single project under this Program. As such, applicants can design their proposals to target the needs of one or more group within the definition of SEDI. However, service delivery must be in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 42 U.S.C. § 2000d to 2000d-7, and its implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart C; and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794. MBDA’s goal for the Capital Readiness Program is to fund a portfolio of projects that will serve a wide range of SEDI groups.

42) Does the project need to have a physical location in the geographic area it proposes to serve?

Awardees may provide proposed services in-person, virtually, or through a combination of in-person and virtual services. If the proposal seeks to focus instead on a particular industry or market segment that spans multiple geographic service areas, the proposal must clearly demonstrate a plan to effectively service multiple geographic areas. As part of the merit review, applicants will be evaluated on their plan to effectively provide services. MBDA encourages applicants to consider in-person services as part of their offerings.

43) My organization is not a formal incubator or accelerator. Could we be a competitive applicant for funding under this NOFO?

Yes, applicants do not have to be formal incubators or accelerators so long as they are otherwise eligible entities as provided in Section III of the NOFO. Competitive applicants will have the necessary skills and ability to execute the proposed activities that align with the three Program Pillars. See Section I(A) of the NOFO.

44) My organization is an incubator/accelerator/venture capital firm that has not historically served SEDI populations in the past. Could we be a competitive applicant for funding under this Program?

Yes, applicants who have not historically served SEDI populations must demonstrate a commitment from at least one SEDI-serving institution to work with the applicant to increase the proposed activities’ ability to effectively serve SEDI groups and effectively target SEDI needs. The applicant must explain the role the SEDI-serving institution(s) will play in the proposal. Such roles could include, but are not limited to, ensuring that the applicant’s proposed activities and curricula address the needs of SEDI group(s), identifying potential barriers to SEDI participation in the applicant’s current services and curricula, working with the applicant to design a plan to remediate those barriers, and amplifying and driving SEDI participation in the applicant’s project. For each commitment by a SEDI-serving organization, the applicant must provide a letter of commitment from the SEDI-serving institution signed by an official authorized to commit that institution. Letters with more detail about the institution’s willingness and ability to provide support to the applicant will be viewed as more competitive.

45) What are some examples of types of SEDI-serving organization that an applicant could partner with?

Examples of SEDI-serving organizations include, but are not limited to, community-based organizations, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) or Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), chambers of commerce at the Federal, state, or local level that serve SEDI groups, investment funds or institutions that focus on specific SEDI groups’ needs, and any other organization that could aid the applicant in cultural competency in its proposed curricula and activities, identifying barriers to SEDI participation in its proposed project, working with the applicant to design a plan to remediate those barriers, and amplifying and driving SEDI participation in the applicant’s project.

46) The NOFO requires applicants to demonstrate an effective track record in working with SEDI populations. How can I demonstrate that track record?

An applicant could include the applicant’s (or alliance organization’s) history working with the target program participants, quantitative and/or qualitative data about the applicant or alliance organization’s ability to build trust within the SEDI group(s) and drive participation in similar programs, or other indicia that the applicant or alliance organization are able to understand the needs of and reach SEDI groups. Applicants should include any numerical data broken down on an annual basis up to the last five years to support the applicant’s track record and experience.

 

Project Performance Measures and Goals

47) What are the performance measures for this program that must be addressed in an application for Capital Readiness Program funding opportunity?

Section I.B. and Appendix A of the NOFO include information for applicants related to program performance measures. Applicants should develop workplans that allow them to achieve and report on the required annual goals and measures. Achieving and reporting on performance goals is a requirement of the award.

The following are the six (6) required measures that applicants must report on under the Program (See Appendix B of the NOFO for the definitions of each performance measures and how goals must be set):

  • Number of SEDI entrepreneurs enrolled in the project
  • Number of SEDI entrepreneurs that graduate from the project
  • Number of networking events held
  • Number of SEDI entrepreneur or SEDI-owned business pitches to Capital provider(s)
  • Number of SEDI-owned businesses formed or scaled
  • Total amount of Capital raised (equity investments, debt, and grants)

Applicants must also propose and define at least one additional performance measure (“Other Performance Measure”) that best reflects project scope of work. This Other Performance Measure is subject to MBDA approval (see Appendix B).

Applicants must propose specific numerical goals in their applications for each performance measure for each year of the project. Applicants should also identify the rationale for the proposed measure, including any key assumptions underlying the measure.

48) The NOFO gives the required performance measures for the Program, but it doesn’t give us numbers that we have to hit each year. Where can we find those minimum numbers?

MBDA did not provide minimums for the performance measures. Applicants are in the best position to determine what goals they can meet based on their location, proposed activities, and amount of funding requested. As part of their application, applicants must propose specific numerical goals in their applications for each performance measure for each year of the project.

Applicants should also identify the rationale for the proposed measure, including any key assumptions underlying the measure. MBDA encourages applicants to be ambitious and realistic in setting proposed numerical goals. The merit review process will evaluate the feasibility of the proposed performance goals, particularly whether the goals and activities are ambitious, realistic, achievable, and reasonable given the amount of funding requested by the proposal.

49) Where must an applicant address project performance measures and goals in the application?

Applicants must propose numerical goals for each performance measure in the Project Narrative. See NOFO Section IV(B)(2) and Appendix B for more information.

50) Can your performance goals for number of clients served include those who are located outside of the state your MBDA Business Center is located in?

MBDA will evaluate applications based on the applicant’s demonstrated ability to serve the community and states in which they are located. However, eligible clients to whom a Business Center may provide services located in any U.S. state or territory will count toward the performance goals.

 

Reporting

51) What are the reports that each project is required to provide?

The project is required to provide the following reports:

  1. Financial Reports – The financial report shall include details on the use of Federal funds and contributions of non-Federal funds (if proposed). The financial reports are to be submitted via Grants Online (or its successor system) on a periodic basis using the SF-425 form. The financial reports are due thirty (30) days after the end of the initial six-month period and every six-month period thereafter. The final report for each budget year is due within ninety (90) days after the expiration of that year.
  2. Progress Reports – Progress reports are to be via the Grants Online system (or its successor) on a periodic basis. The periodic reports are due 30 days after the end of the initial six-month period and every six-month period thereafter. The final report is due within ninety (90) days after the expiration of each budget year.

    The periodic reports must include data and information to determine project progression and success. MBDA will rely on these reports, data, and information as evidence for success stories, future program design, policy recommendations, and/or statistical purposes.

    Note: Failure to submit reports in a timely manner may result in MBDA award enforcement and/or delayed and/or terminated access to Federal funds.
  3. Ongoing Performance Reporting - All required project performance reporting to MBDA shall be conducted via the Internet using a Performance System to be designated and provided by MBDA. Data entry shall occur on a frequent basis and no later than five (5) business days of service action by the project.
  4. Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 Reporting - The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, 31 U.S.C. 6101 includes a requirement for awardees of applicable Federal grants to report information about first-tier sub-awards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards. All awardees of applicable grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Sub-award Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.FSRS.gov on all sub-awards over $30,000. Please see the OMB guidance published at 2 CFR Parts 170 and 200, which can be accessed at http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title02/2cfr200_main_02.tpl.
  5. Operational assessment input – The project is required to provide information as requested by MBDA related to the project’s operational status, including but not limited to branding, website, hiring and training of staff, office space, and compliance with information technology requirements.