Jozelle Booker| president and CEO of MMBC Continuum

By Paula Anderson

Small businesses in Tennessee will have an opportunity to scale and grow with the assistance of the Minority Business Development Agency.

Writing by Design Media, Inc. interviewed Jozelle Booker, president and CEO of MMBC Continuum about the latest funding initiative.

She shared the opportunity that socially and disadvantaged businesses will have with the MBDA Capital Readiness program.

MMBC Continuum also operates the Tennessee MBDA office through a five-year grant award. The office is located in Memphis, Tenn.

“The U.S. Treasury gave the state of Tennessee $100 million to help small business owners. Each state received a specific allotment from the Treasury,” said Booker.

The funding was allocated under the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

“The latest investment is $93.5 million for minority businesses who need help with technical assistance to be ready for lending or venture capital opportunities,” said Booker.

In a press release dated Dec. 21, 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce launched a capital readiness program.

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

“The program will focus on the needs of each business because businesses are different. It will help businesses launch or scale,” said Booker.

According to Booker, there is ‘pre-work’ before a business can approach a lending institution.

“Preparing businesses to access loans and money can be in the form of financial assistance, mentoring, web presence, marketing or legal assistance. It is focused on business development.” said Booker.

“Businesses positioned for success will be able to scale and grow,” said Booker.

One of the challenges for some small businesses is having multiple departments to meet the needs of customers.

“Every business does not have the infrastructure like large corporations. Small businesses don’t have all of the ancillary and support services like major corporations,” said Booker.

According to Booker, MMBC Continuum will apply for the competitive grant. The organization has a 30 year history of serving minority-owned businesses in Memphis.

MBDA is offering webinars to help individuals understand the funding process.

“This is communication to let small socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI) know about the opportunities coming. The program will not start until July 1, 2023, ” stated Booker.

“I want to encourage businesses to change their mindset and think about receiving help from organizations providing the business development and support services,” said Booker.

“This is a ‘magical time’ for Memphis with the infusion of $100 million dollars across the State and we may not ever have this opportunity again.”

To learn more about MMBC Continuum, click here.

To learn more about MBDA Capital Readiness Program, click here.