by Tyler Hale
Every business needs momentum to succeed. Some develop momentum through word-of-mouth or through a publicity campaigns. No matter what route entrepreneurs take, developing this momentum can be a difficult process on the way to success.
This is compounded for minority entrepreneurs, who may not have access to resources available to other business owners. One organization is working to change this paradigm and spark forward movement for minority women-owned businesses through a new accelerator.
Dubbed Momentum: An Accelerator for Minority Women-Owned Startups, this project is aimed at empowering minority women and providing training and assistance to their startups. Designed by the Arkansas Women’s Business Center (AWBC), the program is now aiding its second cohort, which kicked off Monday, Jan. 13.
According to AWBC Director Chauncey Holloman Pettis, the accelerator provides training and direct consulting for each of the 10 entrepreneurs in the cohort, which is aimed at creating or expanding their business.
The accelerator, Pettis, says, has three overarching goals: 1. To lower barrier for minority and women entrepreneurs, 2. To provide ongoing support and access to a peer network, and 3. To provide business growth through “trackable action items and participants’ deliverables.”
Looking at the business landscape, Pettis says that fewer female entrepreneurs receive funding and resources for their entrepreneurial projects and businesses. For minority females, the funding rate is even lower. Momentum was developed, she says, as a corrective to this trend.
“Studies show that female business owners receive nearly fifty percent less funding and fewer opportunities for training and business consulting than their male counterparts. These disparities are compounded with minority woman-owned businesses,” Pettis says. “As the first concentrated accelerator to target minority women in the state of Arkansas, Momentum is changing this dynamic.”
As part of the five-week accelerator, cohort members participate in five three-hour sessions on issues ranging from state business registration to licensing to lean canvas to business finances. The full syllabus for the accelerator includes discussions on registrations, lean canvas, marketing assistance, financial assistance and perfecting pitching.
For each cohort, AWBC partners with a different organization to work with. For the current cohort, AWBC is working alongside the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, Bank OZK and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Training isn’t the only resource that the accelerator offers the cohort members. Each participant receives access to $500 that is meant to advance their business development.
At the short-term level, Pettis aims to educate and provide services to minority women hoping to start or grow their business. In the long-term, she hopes to continue the accelerator to foster talent in Arkansas so that accelerator participants will have a greater impact on the local and state economies.
“Long-term; we hope to continue to offer Momentum cohorts to assist as many minority women launch their businesses as possible,” she says. “Our desire is that these businesses continue to grow and can eventually hire staff and lead to economic development for the state.”