Bernard J. Paprocki, US SBA acting regional administrator for the Atlantic region oversees agency operations in NY, NJ, PR and USVI (photo submitted)
During Black History Month, we celebrate the achievements of African Americans and recognize the central role they play as individuals and communities for the United States.
The role of the US Small Business Administration (US SBA) is to support entrepreneurs every step of the way so that they can realize their dream of owning a business while making their contribution to the success of the business. This is an even more difficult mission as we continue to adapt to the new circumstances that COVID-19 brings.
In February we can celebrate not only the incredible contributions black-owned companies are making to their local communities and our national, regional and local economies, but we can again work to ensure that they are part of our sustainable American small business recovery.
We often hear from black companies about the socio-economic and capital-financing challenges of starting and growing a business. It is for this reason that the SBA is committed to fair and equitable recreation that allows access to small businesses in every community.
Our goal is to work with black entrepreneurs to address these business challenges. The Biden-Harris government is committed to providing small businesses with the support they need during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, particularly to ensure that minority and women-owned businesses have fair and equitable access to small business aid programs .
The US Small Business Administration provides resources specifically for this purpose. Here are the top 10 resources small business owners can currently use to continue their entrepreneurial journey:
- financing: To start or grow a business, capital is required. SBA’s Lender Match connects entrepreneurs with financial institutions that provide agency-backed small business loans. SBA-guaranteed loans can be used for most business purposes, including working capital and financing equipment, as well as other long-term property, plant and equipment. However, discuss the terms of each program with your lender in advance.
For the Paycheck Protection program, the PPP Lender Lookup Map will also find the closest participating lender in your area.
- Business plan development and personal support: Small Business Development Centers offer free one-on-one advice, inexpensive training services, market research and much more. Since March 2020, SBDCs have also been helping small business owners gather the required documentation and fill out applications for PPP and economic injury catastrophe loans. Most SBDCs take virtual appointments while we continue to distance ourselves socially. You can find the closest one here.
- Mentoring: The resources of SBA, such as B. SCORE, provide business owners with free tutoring and training to learn from others who have made the journey to entrepreneurship. SCORE is a network of thousands of volunteer business consultants across the country who mentor and train small business owners. They currently offer free online one-on-one virtual counseling in multiple languages as well as educational workshops.
Scale your business and adapt during COVID
- SBA’s Emerging Leaders program is a free “mini MBA” designed to help growing entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. The 2021 classes will encourage small business owners to get even stronger and smarter during COVID. Application registration is now open to qualified applicants in New York, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico.
- Supporting women entrepreneurs: Immediately before COVID, black women started their own businesses at record prices. Women’s Business Centers help women start and grow small businesses. They offer a full range of services to women entrepreneurs at all stages of planning, implementation and growth.
- Veteran Small Business Support: Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial education and training program available to active duty members (including the National Guard and Reserve), veterans, and their spouses as they start, grow, or orient their businesses.
- Bring your business to the international market: Two thirds of the world’s consumers are outside of the United States. Export Assistance Centers help small businesses enter the international market. Entrepreneurs can learn how to export, participate in foreign trade missions and trade shows, translate websites, and design marketing campaigns.
- Access to government contracts: The SBA Mentor-Protégé program is designed for small businesses to learn from an experienced government contractor. The certification of women-owned companies helps level the playing field for women entrepreneurs as the government restricts competition for certain contracts to companies certified as women-owned companies.
- Web sources: gov includes online resources such as the newly launched Ascent platform and information on upcoming webinars to help entrepreneurs address common business challenges.
- Local support: SBA District Offices can connect you to local SBA resources, mentors and training.