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$50,000 Grants Available To Elevate Black Entrepreneurship In North Carolina

NC BEC's Funding Initiative aims to address racial inequities in business support and economic development in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council (NC BEC) is launching new funding via grants to support the growth of local Black companies.

The council will begin taking applications on March 11 to help elevate Black entrepreneurship through the 2024 NC BEC Ecosystem Grant. Applicants can pursue grants up to $50,000 each out of a $300,000 budget. That means roughly six grants will be awarded. The application deadline is April 15, 5:00 p.m. EST. You must be a North Carolina-based organization to seek funding.

Qualified applicants can only include diverse types of non-profits, for-profits, HBCUs, entrepreneurial support organizations, and others that serve or host programs geared to support or help Black entrepreneurs.

The NC IDEA, a Durham, NC-based private foundation that backs entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in the state, created the NC BEC in 2020. That council so far has awarded over $2 million in grants in North Carolina, including Black entrepreneurs ($525,000), entrepreneurial support organizations ($775,990), and Historically Black Colleges and Universities ($775,990).

NC Idea President and CEO Thom Ruhe stated, “Under the leadership of the NC BEC, our call to fund the entrepreneur aspirations of these organizations will provide the Black community with greater opportunities for access, exposure, and networks, thereby leveling the playing field and realizing the potential in everyone.”

The funding effort comes after corporate America reportedly failed to fulfill pledges to commit $50 billion to address racial inequities and empower Black individuals and businesses after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Yet, some observers have contested how much in pledges have actually been made, as many firms have not publicly reported updates on their commitments. The announced pledges ranged from helping Black companies grow to assisting Black individuals in making big-ticket purchases, like buying homes.

Now NC Idea and NC BEC are stepping up to help fill that void in North Carolina.

The NC BEC’s work includes building the capacity of Black leaders, allowing them to be more supportive of Black proprietors on the capital funding and economic development front. It has grown from a small, accomplished group of Black professionals to over two dozen experts in various fields that serve on the BEC.  It informs the funding and supports priorities for NC IDEA, which aims to become the nation’s best state for Black founders.

Desmond A. Wiggan, CEO & Founder of BatteryXchange, reflected on how gaining funding last year helped his Charlotte, N.C.-based  company. “The $50,000 SEED grant from NC IDEA Foundation, along with the $75,000 GROWTH grant from The Black Entrepreneurship Council, proved instrumental in attracting multiple angel investors and propelling our business to new heights. Their commitment to fostering equitable entrepreneurship is truly elevating opportunities for all entrepreneurs in our state.”

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