NABEELA TAREEN

JUSTLAW STAFF WRITER

 

Businesses act as a source of economic development globally. They play a vital role in the progress of any country by contributing to employment creation and sustainable growth. The Small Business Administration (SBA) defines the term “small business” relative to varied industries. For instance, in manufacturing and mining, a company with fewer than 500 employees is considered small, while in retail and service the bar is set at $6 million in annual sales. The federal government specifies distinct definitions for businesses in all other fields of commerce.[1] Small scale businesses are important for promoting stability and innovation that offers their owners a sense of financial independence. Further, they serve as a driving force for creating job opportunities and economic mobility. Initially, businesses owned by women and minority groups were limited, but with each passing year, the ownership composition of these firms is diversifying.

In the United States, the data offered by the Ninth Annual State of Women-Owned Business Report (2019), show that US women owned approximately 42% of all business in America. Furthermore, 50% of all the women owned business belong to minority groups (i.e., coming from diverse ethnic and geographic backgrounds).[2] The Annual Business survey (2019) in reference to the year 2018 states that minority owned businesses saw a dramatic increase by forming about 18.3% (1.0 million) of all US businesses.[3] In the UK, female and minority owned businesses contribute approximately $35-45 billion USD to the UK economy.[4]  

The Center for American Progress (CAP) report titled ‘A Progressive Agenda for Inclusive and Diverse Entrepreneurship, 2016’ remarks the despite the increase in female and minority ownership (Hispanics and African Americans) in the business world, there still remains a vast gap on a per-capita basis in comparison to white male entrepreneurs.[5]

 

Starting a business can be a very daunting task. An aspiring business owner – especially women and minorities- faces a number of obstacles. Access to capital is challenging for any entrepreneur. But for minority groups in particular, often times there is little family wealth to tap and they are thus compelled to start with constrained resources. Many such would-be owners also lack an existing network, making it hard for diverse entrepreneurs to find capital, opportunities and advice. Lack of proper skills and education can also serve as a hindrance to the budding entrepreneurs.[6]

Hidden Gems – Financial Resources for Minority and Female-Owned Business

To alleviate some of these concerns, there are many available financing options for female and minority entrepreneurs. These may include special loan programs designed exclusively for the promotion of small-scale industry owned by these groups. Furthermore, there are also a variety of grants which can help the business owner with capital and development.

These loan and grant programs may vary in nature but all of them connate a similar notion of providing liberal funding to small- business with certain benefits. The loan offered may be funded under various government offered scheme or by private establishments. In the USA, State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) is a federal scheme available to fund small scale business and provide credit support.[7]      

Apart from the loans, a large number of grants are available which can serve as an ample opportunity for aspiring businesses. The Minority Business Development Agency of the Department of Commerce, U.S is a federal agency created with a mission to encourage growth and worldwide competition of minority businesses. Grants such as American Indian, Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Grant, The Global Women of Color Economic Empowerment Grant, Minority Growth Equity Funds Initiative (the Billion-Dollar Fund) and more are available.  [8]

The Amber Grant Program offered by The WomenNet Foundation offers a generous grant up to $10,000 to the winner (female entrepreneur) each month and one of the 12 monthly winners may also receive an additional grant of $25,000 by the end of the year. Women with a strong entrepreneurial plan and leadership personality are eligible for this grant.[9]        

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) growth grant is another important grant scheme which offers up to $ 4000 for development of business units. This program is designed to fuel small business for several business needs such as advertising, marketing etc. To qualify for this grant, there are certain eligibility criteria that an aspiring entrepreneur must fulfill. Firstly, the entrepreneur must be a reputable member of NASE. Secondly, their proposal should indicate a need that would be satisfied by this financial program. Thirdly, the member needs to put forward a comprehensive plan highlighting how the financial aid will be utilized for the progress and advancement of the business enterprise. Finally, supporting documents have to be submitted before the given deadline.[10]  To help manage the deadlines and paper work, entrepreneurs will likely need competent tax advisors and great small business lawyers.    

Other examples for important grants include GirlBoss Foundation Grant Program ($15000 for creative projects), Cartier Women’s Initiative which is available globally and offer a grant up to $100,000,[11] Rural Business Development Grant Program (under USDA grants between $10,000- $500,000, FedEx Small Business Grant Contest (awards $25000 to a unique business idea with positive impact on society) [12]etc.

Conclusion

A good business can flourish with the support of loans and grants; however, gaining such opportunities is not an easy task. Fierce competition exists among the participants and only those entrepreneurs with strong, innovative ideas, an analytical personality infused with a spirit of leadership are likely to achieve such handsome opportunities.