I was not prepared for the challenges that you face as a Black business owner when I started my business. I knew there would be obstacles, but the way racial discrimination plays out when you add gender to it makes things extra spicy. So from the beginning I knew that I had to find programs and services that centered my lived experience as a Black woman, which is why I jumped at the opportunity when I saw the announcement for the Black Woman Accelerator Program.
Why I Applied For The Accelerator Program
The purpose of this accelerator program was to help Black women leverage certifications and apply for the National Minority Supplier Development Council’s Minority Business Enterprise certification. I tried to get my MBE certification through a local women's commerce center here in Phoenix. A government office. I filled out the form for services on their website, I emailed them and I even called them a couple of times and left messages. I never heard back even though their mission is to support women-owned businesses.
I wasn't surprised because I've learned that some organizations just don't deliver on their promises, but Buy From A Black Woman has a track record of delivering. When I discovered them in 2020, they showed me what an impactful business really looks like and they've helped me grow and become even more impactful since. So I knew I could trust them and finally get this certification.
Also, the program was offering:
Access to mentorship from experienced mentors who would provide guidance on the aspects of business development necessary to grow and scale.
Development of business skills through a structured curriculum designed to help us develop key business skills such as financial management, team building, and strategic planning.
Networking opportunities and the ability to connect with other entrepreneurs and industry experts, which would help expand my business connections and potential partnerships.
What I Gained Over The Six Weeks
First and foremost, the program provided me with a plan to strategically leverage my MBE certification, in addition to gently guiding me through the application process and paying the application fee. I shared more on this when I first wrote about the accelerator program, but I already know that being set up for success in this way is going to have an impact that I won’t be able to measure.
Then experts from H&M, the NMSDC and Buy From A Black Woman’s network of industry-leading companies totally gathered me and helped me refine my business plan by presenting sessions on strategic growth, the legal aspects of business and social impact. They went deep. They gave us the tools and resources we need to scale in preparation for the opportunities that the MBE certification is going to unlock.
And I also got the opportunity to connect with other Black women entrepreneurs who are doing amazing things in their respective fields. Women with inspiring stories who were so generous and happy to share. And the program provided a safe and supportive environment where we could get into our experiences and challenges, and give each other valuable feedback and guidance because we’ve had similar experiences.
Why This Is Just The Beginning
Already I’ve grown and received a roadmap to keep me on this accelerated path, and I haven’t even tapped into the benefits of being an MBE certified business. This minority certification is a game-changer for small businesses. Some of the benefits include:
Access to new business opportunities: Many corporations and government agencies have supplier diversity programs that seek to do business with minority-owned firms. The MBE certification makes it easier for these organizations to find and do business with our companies.
Increased visibility: The certification helps increase our visibility in the marketplace. Which can lead to new business relationships, partnerships and increased revenue.
Networking opportunities: The NMSDC provides networking opportunities for MBEs through its events, conferences and other programs. These events provide a chance to meet other minority-owned businesses, potential clients and even partners.
Educational resources: The NMSDC offers a variety of educational resources and training programs to help MBEs grow and thrive. These resources include webinars, workshops and other educational materials.
Increased credibility: The certification is a third-party validation of our minority-owned status as a company, which can increase our credibility with potential clients, partners, and investors.
Access to capital: The MBE certification can make it easier for us to access capital, such as loans and grants, from government agencies or other organizations that support minority-owned businesses.
To be honest this opportunity is still blowing my mind and I’m so grateful that I got to participate in this program. I hope Buy From A Black Woman continues to receive the support and funding they need to carry out such programs and I’m excited for where this is going to go.
This Program Was Exactly What I Needed
A business accelerator program specifically designed for Black women founders, to provide us with the resources and support that we need to overcome the unique obstacles that we face was exactly what I needed and exactly what I got. Not only did I receive invaluable guidance and support, but I also connected with a community of like-minded women who share my passion for making the world a better place through entrepreneurship. With this level of support I can only succeed. I’m very optimistic about the long-term impact this will have and wish that more Black businesses could receive such thoughtful support.
If you’re a Black women business owner who’s been looking for a program to help you level up, I highly recommend connecting with Buy From A Black Woman because they’re playing to win and they don’t play about us.