Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency Announces Nearly $100 Million to Expand Opportunities for Underserved Entrepreneurs

The Capital Readiness Program grant competition marks the largest investment to support minority entrepreneurs and businesses from the Commerce Department

WASHINGTON DC, December. This program, administered by the Minority Business Development Agency, marks the largest program of its kind in the history of the Commerce Department.

The Capital Readiness Program will provide funding to incubators and accelerators across the country with expertise to help and train minority and other underserved entrepreneurs seeking resources, tools and technical assistance to grow their businesses in high-growth industries such as healthcare, climate to start or scale. resilient technology, asset management, infrastructure, and more.

Businesses owned by women of color represent one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy. However, structural barriers persist, preventing many women from starting their own businesses and accessing capital, childcare solutions and peer networks. The Capital Readiness Program provides the curriculum, tools, and resources to minority entrepreneurs to access capital and financing, and connects them with subject matter experts, vendors, and peer support to help start or scale their business.

“This new program reflects President Biden and the Commerce Department’s continued historic commitment to underserved business owners and entrepreneurs,” said US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “During the pandemic, women and minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs were among the hardest hit, often lacking the resources they needed to keep their doors open. We can’t let that happen again. That’s why the Capital Readiness Program prioritizes resources and tools, such as childcare services, prioritized and encouraged, which ensure that more people can launch and scale businesses.

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“In 2020, Black and Hispanic female founders accounted for less than half of one percent of total venture capital investments,” said US Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves. “Spurring the next generation of entrepreneurs and ensuring diverse representation in these high-growth industries is essential, not only to spur innovation, but also to build a more resilient economy that reflects all Americans.”

MBDA’s Capital Readiness Program is funded by the Department of Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), reauthorized under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. SSBCI provides $10 billion to states, the District of Columbia, territories and tribal governments to promote entrepreneurship, increase Access to capital, and help businesses grow—especially in traditionally underserved communities. The Capital Readiness Program is intended to serve entrepreneurs and businesses who are applying, have applied or plan to apply to SSBCI or other government programs that support small businesses.

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“We know that entrepreneurs and small businesses in underserved communities have long lacked equal access to resources and capital to reach their full economic potential,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo. “Through the Capital Readiness Program, the Minority Business Development Agency – tasked with promoting the growth and competitiveness of our nation’s minority-owned businesses – will help empower entrepreneurs and business owners to get the information they need to access to access funding through small business support programs When entrepreneurs and small business owners in all communities have the chance to compete and thrive, it increases our country’s overall economic potential and growth.

MBDA is the only federal government agency dedicated solely to supporting minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs and helping them overcome the barriers to economic success that many women and minority communities face. The agency is uniquely positioned to provide technical assistance and help these businesses be successful in applying for SSBCI capital programs and other government programs that support small businesses.

“The Capital Readiness Program will open doors for entrepreneurs,” said Donald Cravins, Jr., Under Secretary of the Minority Business Development Agency. “The biggest obstacle for disadvantaged entrepreneurs, especially entrepreneurs of color, is access. MBDA can effectively launch initiatives to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, access capital through the Department of Treasury’s SSBCI Capital Program, and access Networks that understand and address the unique challenges of minority entrepreneurs and other underserved entrepreneurs.

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Entities eligible to apply include non-profit organizations, private sector entities, institutions of higher education, and a consortium of two or more of the above eligible applicants. To address one of the biggest barriers for women in the workplace, the competition encourages applicants to offer childcare solutions, such as on-site day care, as a strategic priority. The competition also stimulates proposals from organizations working to break down economic barriers for underserved communities and support traditionally underrepresented, high-growth industries while growing the American economy.

Starting in January, MBDA will host a series of informative pre-application webinars. The webinars help potential applicants to better understand the capital readiness program and the application requirements outlined in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). The webinars are scheduled for January 10, 17 and 24th 2023 at 2:00 PM Eastern Time.

For more information about the program and to register for the pre-application webinars, visit


CONTACT: Gabriel Cushing Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) [email protected]


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