Nineteen Mississippi small business owners complete Women and Minority Entrepreneurial Development Program

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Nineteen Mississippi tech and non-tech small business owners have completed the Women and Minority Entrepreneurial Development Program funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The Women and Minority Entrepreneur Development Program is an entrepreneurial technical assistance program focused on developing companies led by women and minority founders. Since its inception in 2020, Innovate Mississippi has successfully provided assistance to nearly 40 new and recently established founders.

The minority and women founders who participated in the 2021 Cohort included business ideas for mobile grocery stores for food desserts, medication dispense devices for the visually impaired, and a platform for remote maintenance coordination.

Upon submission of their applications, the Cohort participants were selected then invited to join a network of peers to participate in programs that furthered their entrepreneurial education, provided mentor connections and offered general development assistance.

Participants attended webinars and office hours with advisors & mentors each week.

Innovate Mississippi hosted the weekly webinars on various topics that were essential to building a successful business and walked participants through progressive steps that outline critical business concepts, from legal to minimum viable product to marketing.

“This program taught me a lot, and I really was pleased about being connected to a mentor who is a business owner too as well as has mentored other successful start-ups”, said Temeka Denson, Founder of MedFusion Inkk.

Upon completion of the program, all participants are eligible to apply for financial assistance through the LaunchFund, a loan program offered through the Women and Minority Entrepreneurial Development Initiative.

“We found that – in addition to the need for guidance, education, and mentorship – capital is often a crucial need with small start-ups”, Tasha Bibb, Entrepreneurial Development Director at Innovate Mississippi.

This year, we had several companies participate in a Pitch Competition before angel investors and local, established women & minority business owners. Cash prizes were awarded. Data shows that Mississippi is a state with one of the highest minority populations.

The impact of minority entrepreneurship can be significant by targeting resources to help this demographic become more successful in entrepreneurship.

Nationally, minority ownership of small businesses took a serious hit at the height of COVID-19, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. From February through April 2020, the number of Black-owned small businesses fell 41%.

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