Office of Women’s Business Ownership Entrepreneurial Development
Under the auspices of the SBA, the OWBO provides educational resources to women by funding Women’s Business Centers across the country. Women entrepreneurs often face challenges such as childcare issues and establishing credit in their own name, says Hedy M. Ratner, co-president of the Women’s Business Development Center in Chicago. “Traditional assistance organizations didn’t understand their unique needs,” she adds. Local centers provide low-cost loans, training, and free counseling. For a list of Women’s Business Centers, visit SBA.gov.
Minority Business Development Agency
Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the MBDA was specifically created to help minority businesses grow. Through the MBDA, a network of Minority Business Development Centers receive funding to help entrepreneurs with writing business plans, marketing, financial planning, and technical assistance. The centers and resources are available to businesses with a 51% minority (by ethnicity or gender) ownership. While some services are free, centers charge for others on a sliding scale based on the size of the business. To find a center near you here.
Procurement Technical Assistance Centers
Business owners wanting to sell products or services to the federal government and some municipal agencies can take advantage of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, located in each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. For little or no cost, the centers — which fall under the umbrella of the Department of Defense — provide training and technical assistance. Find the center here.
Keeping track of all of the resources the government has for small businesses can be a challenge. With information ranging from business financing to small business taxes, Business.gov acts as a one-stop Web portal to help you get started. Bookmark this site to make sure you take advantage of all that the federal government has to offer.
This story originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.