1MC Strives to Provide Resources for Diverse-Owned Businesses

1Million Cups is a nationwide group of volunteers that support start up entrepreneurs (5 years or less) with weekly meetings where those startups tell their story and get support from the community. You can find out more about it and see past presentations on video at www.1millioncups.com/mankato/.

Along with the usual presenters, 1MC has been doing a series of ecosystem mapping discussions with the community to find out what gaps are out there in our entrepreneurial supports. 1MC recently held a mapping session on resources for diverse-owned businesses.

1 Million Cups Mankato will now follow up by hosting a panel with resources for diverse-owned businesses in southern Minnesota. In the resource mapping session held this summer, a few things came across as needs for this segment of entrepreneur: education and access to capital were chief among them. The panel discussion scheduled for September 2 will address these needs.

Across the nation, minority-owned businesses are on the rise. According to Inc.com, there continues to be steady growth in the number of minority-owned businesses in the United States.

The state of Minnesota reflects the trends of the country when it comes to minority-owned businesses. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Developments cites that nearly 10 percent of the state’s firms…nearly 48,000, are minority-owned according to recent Census data. (According to the national Survey of Business Owners conducted every five years by the U.S. Census Bureau.)

For these entrepreneurs, starting a small business enables them to step out of a traditional job and pursue their career passion. Likewise, many immigrant families see businesses as a way to become self-sufficient and provide a necessary – and often missing – service to their community. Our cover story this issue is a great example of that.

All small business owners find themselves with challenges on a daily basis, that’s one reason the 1Million Cups program is so important. But for minority business owners, there can be additional hurdles to overcome. Some of those barriers include financial matters, professional development obstacles and access to the right kinds of advisers and mentors.

As we dig up resources specific to minority-owned business, one stands out at this time. Here in our region, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation or SMIF, has found a unique way to support diverse businesses.

Called the Prosperity Initiative, SMIF hopes to promote inclusive entrepreneurship and minority-owned business growth in southern Minnesota. The program provides regular education, coaching, and business resources to minority and new immigrant business owners in SMIF’s 20-county region.

Numbers back up SMIF’s need to address this population as according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 29 percent of Minnesota’s population will be people of color by 2040. That is up 25 percent from 1980. The Prosperity Initiative is designed to help remove barriers to success for entrepreneurs and respond to rapid growth in this area.

To help Prosperity Initiative clients turn their business dreams into a sustainable reality, the SMIF offers support from a professional business coach to set goals and work toward achieving them. SMIF can also offer access to marketing assistance, Quick Books training, financial planning and tax preparation. Business planning software, website hosting and design services, and other crucial business tools are also available.

To learn more about SMIF’s Prosperity Initiative, please visit www.smifoundation.org. The Small Business Development Corp. (SBDC) is another valuable resource.

You are invited to join the business community via Zoom, every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. A link to join the presentation will be available at 1millioncups.com/mankato.

Lisa Cownie

Editor of Connect Business Magazine