When I saw that applications were open for the Black Woman Accelerator Program I applied so fast it's embarrassing. I’d been wanting to get my MBE certification for a while because I know it’s a gateway to countless opportunities, but being able to do it with an organization that specifically caters to Black women and accounts for the unique obstacles we face as business owners made this very different.
And we’re just two weeks into the program, but I've already gained invaluable insights. Here are some of my highlights so far:
Guidance From Decision-Makers
Image via NMSDC
The NMSDC’s minority business certification unlocks access to corporate buyers, government agencies and procurement specialists focused on diversifying their supply chains. And the NMSDC successfully facilitates business connections between potential partners and small businesses in a variety of ways, so much so that these businesses generated $261 billion in revenue in 2021.
However, in order to engage in the types of business opportunities that drive billions of dollars in revenue, you need to be able to stand out in their network of 13,000 certified businesses. And during our very first session, the decision-makers responsible for selecting diverse suppliers and vendors at H&M, told us exactly what we need to do to stand out. They shared some common mistakes that they see businesses making, some under-utilized opportunities that we can tap into, and they gave us some guidance on how to leverage the certification for growth.
Imagine getting this type of advice from the people who run the second largest international clothing retailer in the world? Because these are the kinds of opportunities that Buy From A Black Woman engineers for Black women. It’s still blowing my mind.
Being Set Up For Success
In preparing us for the certification, the classes are also helping us take a closer look at our operations to identify any gaps, refine our business practices, and start putting everything we’re going to need to maximize the coming business opportunities into place. Already I can see why startups that go through accelerator programs have a 23% higher survival rate than other startups. It’s because they’re not only giving us a roadmap, they’re making sure we have what we need to navigate it and stay on course.
And they’re also giving us the language and negotiation tactics that we’re going to need to carve out a strong position, which is major.
The Comfort of Safety
As a Black woman, spaces that are completely safe from racism and misogyny are rare. Microaggressions are basically just a part of daily life, which sometimes makes being vulnerable in spaces that are supposed to be psychologically safe dangerous.
But sitting in the room with highly-ambitious, driven Black women who run competitive businesses that are at the top in their industries, I was really moved by how open they are and how easily they share. And it occurred to me that this is only possible because we feel safe.
We’re in a space that was curated for us. A space that was created by a Black woman to facilitate the type of knowledge transfer that leads to real transformation, which can be a challenge if you’re in a state of agitation.
It’s deep. And it’s making me raise my standards because Buy From A Black Woman sets the bar really high!
And one last thing, being served by an organization that actually does what they say they do and in a way that affirms your existence is an experience that every Black woman deserves. I’m grateful that I get to experience this and I truly wish it for every Black woman business owner. So just know that the online directory is just the beginning, but go ahead and add your business so you can tap into opportunities like this accelerator program.