South Carolina MBDA Business Center, Columbia, SC | Photo Credit: Michael R. Bailey

Growing Minority-Owned Businesses: South Carolina MBDA Business Center’s Three-Decade Legacy

Nearly 30 years of helping Minority-owned businesses grow and scale

5 mins read


(Columbia, SC) – In the ever-evolving landscape of American business, minority-owned enterprises have played a crucial role in shaping the nation’s economy. Recognizing this impact, President Richard M. Nixon established the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) in 1969. For nearly 30 years, the South Carolina MBDA Business Center, operated by DESA, Inc., has been at the forefront, offering consulting services to minority-owned businesses in South Carolina and North Carolina. Amid economic downturns and budgetary challenges in 2022 and 2023, the center continued its mission to support businesses in scaling up, building capacity, and adapting to industry changes.

Historical Perspective

The MBDA’s inception marked a pivotal moment in acknowledging the vital role of minority businesses in the nation’s welfare. President Nixon’s Executive Orders in 1969 and 1971 expanded the MBDA’s scope, authorizing grants for technical and management assistance to minority business enterprises (MBEs). Present day, the SC MBDA Business Center serves as an important resource for minority-owned businesses, in the Carolinas.

The Carolina Connection

The SC MBDA Business Center, part of a national network strategically positioned to champion economic parity for minority-owned businesses, is operated by DESA, Inc., led by Diane E. Sumpter. Over the last decade, DESA has tirelessly operated the center, aligning its mission with that of the MBDA – fostering the growth and global competitiveness of minority-owned businesses. The center’s focus extends to Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) generating a minimum of $1 million in annual revenue, providing them with access to contracts, global markets, capital, strategic business counseling, and marketing assistance.

Achievements: A Glimpse into the 2022-2023 Annual Report

The numbers speak volumes about the impact of the SC MBDA Business Center. During the 10-month period, the center surpassed its goals, reaching 3,514 customers, serving 90 MBEs, creating 218 jobs, forming 12 strategic alliances, and facilitating 15 strategic actions. These achievements highlight the center’s effectiveness in delivering essential services to minority-owned businesses.

Financial Impact: Fueling Growth

Financially, the center’s total revenue, contracts, and financing for the period reached an impressive $73,829,768. This underscores the tangible results of the center’s efforts in securing contracts, providing access to capital, and facilitating financial transactions for minority-owned businesses.

Core Services Driving Success

The success of the SC MBDA Business Center can be attributed to its comprehensive set of services, including access to contracts, global markets, capital, strategic business counseling, and marketing assistance. These services empower minority-owned businesses to navigate the complexities of the business landscape, positioning them for growth and success.

A Testament to Success

One shining example of the center’s impact is the recognition bestowed upon Optus Bank, the only Black-owned bank in South Carolina. Honored with the Robert J. Brown Minority Business Enterprise of the Year Award by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s MBDA, Optus Bank’s exponential growth and success were acknowledged during the 2023 National MED Week Awards Ceremony. The SC MBDA Business Center, operated by DESA Inc., played a pivotal role in endorsing Optus Bank, contributing significantly to its growth and success.

Strategic Partnerships and Future Outlook

In today’s dynamic business environment, strategic partnerships are more critical than ever. The SC MBDA Business Center serves as a bridge, connecting minority-owned businesses with larger corporations. Its role as a liaison, facilitator, marketer, and advocate is evident in success stories, like that of Optus Bank. For high-earning businesses, the center serves as a valuable resource for unlocking new opportunities and navigating the path to sustained growth.


South Carolina MBDA achievements, highlighted in the 2022-2023 Annual Report, underscore the tangible impact of its services. The success of Optus Bank, honored with a prestigious award, is a testament to the center’s commitment to fostering economic growth and empowering minority-owned businesses. In the spirit of collaboration and growth, the center continues to play a vital role in shaping the success stories of minority entrepreneurs, contributing not only to local economies but to the nation’s economic fabric as a whole. 

The SC MBDA Business Center is a steadfast partner and experienced advisor, offering unwavering support to minority-owned businesses seeking to scale and future-proof their operations. For businesses looking to make a lasting impact and thrive in increasingly complex and competitive local, national, and global business markets of the digital age, the South Carolina MBDA Business Center is the ideal ally on the journey to success.

Businesses interested in learning more about the Center should call 803-743-1152 or email

Michael Bailey, a trailblazer in the field of photojournalism and a profound political writer, possesses the exceptional ability to distill complex political issues into accessible narratives that resonate with readers of all backgrounds. As the vanguard of the editorial team, Michael not only serves as a new media correspondent but also showcases his distinct talent as a photojournalist. His portfolio is a testament to his expertise in crafting news stories and intimate profiles that vividly portray the cultural, social, economic, and political journeys of minorities, both in South Carolina and beyond. With a rich tapestry of experience spanning media, business, and politics, Michael has emerged as a highly regarded voice and a sought-after commentator, offering invaluable insights into the challenges faced by people of color.

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