Women of color have always been enterprising. In its latest annual State of Women-Owned Businesses report, which uses Census and other national data to track trends, American Express OPEN estimates that women of color are responsible for 78 percent of the nearly 2.8 million women-owned firms opened over the last decade.
The same source estimates that African-American women launched an average of 311 net companies every day for the last nine years.
Women entrepreneurs of color have also always faced particular challenges that their white and male counterparts do not. Chief among these is securing funding. Though money can be difficult to find and is often bound by bureaucracy and discrimination, there is still plenty of targeted assistance available.
This month, for starters, Odyssey Media launches its Keys to Success: Access to Capital program, a digital workshop series and $25,000-prize business pitch competition powered by the Coca-Cola 5 by 20 Initiative, and designed to help women of color expand their small businesses.
According to Keys to Success program coordinator and women entrepreneurswomen entrepreneursentrepreneur, Cheryl McCants, the initiative seeks to address the concerns and questions women of color harbor most.
“It’s really important to Impact, Odyssey and the Coca-Cola 5 by 20 Initiative that minority- and women-owned businesses are able to grow and expand,” said Cheryl McCants, founder, and CEO of Impact Consulting Enterprises, a strategic communication, marketing, and public relations firm.
“While there are lots of other competitions and lots of other opportunities, we really wanted to design and implement a program that would make sure that minority women business owners faced their fears, got the info they needed, and then asked for the money that they needed in order expand. We don’t ask – and when you don’t ask you don’t get.”
The Keys to Success digital workshops will discuss financial literacy and management, funding sources, personal presentation, brand image, certifications, business plans, and business pitching. Anyone can register to view the three webinars, which will be released to registered participants on April 13, 18, and 20 respectively. All workshops will remain available through May 5, which is also the deadline to submit a pitch for the competition.
Interested competitors must:
• Register for and complete the workshop series;
• Have at least three years in business;
• Have Minority Woman Business Enterprise (MWBE) certification from the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) or your state or be in the process of getting this certification.
“Multicultural women are opening small businesses at a faster rate than any other segment, and these women are putting Americans to work. Yet, even with this phenomenal success, staying in business can be tough without access to investors and a line of credit,” said Odyssey Media CEO and founder, Linda Spradley Dunn. “I launched Keys to Success to draw attention to this issue and help raise money for these phenomenal women.”
Continue onto Blavity to read more about this initiative.