Many African American ventures end up struggling or failing due to a lack of access to capital. Another common reason businesses fail is that the business owner leading the operation lacks the business know-how to navigate the bumpy road that comes with entrepreneurship.
However, there are programs available to help alleviate some of these challenges. Among them is the 10,000 Small Businesses initiative. Sponsored by Goldman Sachs, this is a $500 million initiative designed to provide 10,000 small businesses across the United States with business education, mentors, networks, and capital. The program is mainly designed for small businesses operating in economically disadvantaged areas with revenues ranging from $150,000 and $4 million that have been in operation for at least two years and have at least four full-time employees. The program also looks for a scalable business model that can potentially create more jobs.
The program (which is expanding) is currently available for businesses located in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Long Beach, Houston and New Orleans. “I think the key thing is it encourages and assists an entrepreneur with self-analysis. One of the challenges with entrepreneurs is they’re the chief, cook and bottle-washer,” says Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, who serves on the program’s advisory council. “They’re doing so many things themselves…sometimes they’re working hard every day and have very little time for introspection and the development of strategy.”
The program focuses on three areas: business and management education, access to capital and business support services.
Business and Management Education: Through partnerships with local colleges and universities, participants receive an education that focuses on business skills that can immediately be applied by entrepreneurs, including accounting, marketing and human resources management.
Access to Capital: Through a combination of lending and philanthropic support to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), some $300 million will be available for small businesses.
Business Support Services: Advice and technical assistance will be offered to participating small business owners.
One entrepreneur who has participated in the program is Jason Horne, who owns the XS Martial Arts Dojo in New Orleans, which has around 200 students. After being accepted into the program, Horne was instructed how to operate and grow his business. “I would say that a lot of the things that I’ve taken from that program has boosted my growth and revenue,” he says. “When we finished this program, we understood that regardless of what business you’re in…the business side of business is still business.”
Not all small businesses will qualify. “The selection is competitive and the people who are invited to be a part of it are people who already have an established commitment to their small business, says Morial. “They’re not startups that just have a business plan and an idea. It also addresses the multiplicity of barriers that small businesses face and the development of a very specific curriculum.”
Horne says that since completing the program in June, revenues have increased around 10%. “Now and that’s a short time but we’ve been able to climb tremendously in the past couple of months in our revenue stream and it’s just by me being able to sell the business more and not work in the business as much as I have in the past.”
Entrepreneurs looking to participate in the program can click GoldmanSachs.com.