(COLUMBIA, SC) – The South Carolina Small Business Development Centers (SC SBDC), the state’s premier provider of business assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs, is pleased to announce that it is collaborating with the S.C. Commission for Minority Affairs (CMA), South Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), lenders and other partners on a joint initiative to uplift the economic prospects for African American business owners and entrepreneurs by facilitating their access to capital (a leading issue for African American business owners), developing solutions to their business challenges, encouraging dialogue and ensuring business owners support the communities they serve.
The BRIDGE Initiative
The SC SBDC calls its initiative “The BRIDGE,” which stands for “Better Resources for Inclusion, Dialogue, Growth & Equity.”
The overarching objectives of The BRIDGE are to:
- Expand outreach and awareness of small business services in underserved African American
communities throughout the state of South Carolina;
- Enhance and tailor business assistance to meet the needs of African American entrepreneurs; and
- Engage African Americans in the challenge to pursue goals that advance both their own businesses
AND their communities.
“The BRIDGE is a transformative initiative,” said SC SBDC State Director Michele Abraham. “More than just a moral or cultural imperative, it’s an economic imperative that addresses three factors impacting African American businesses and entrepreneurs: human, financial, and social capital.”
According to Abraham, 45.4 percent of SC SBDC clients are African American, and the network is committed to doing more.** The SC SBDC pledges to invest its time, talent and resources into each business that ‘accepts the challenge to participate in this initiative.’ South Carolina’s HBCUs and other partners will play a key role by helping the SC SBDC promote and facilitate essential components of The BRIDGE. “For example, the SC SBDC has established relationships with lenders that are committed to improving access to capital,” Abraham said. “Our charge and challenge are to funnel twenty million dollars into businesses owned by African Americans to help them create jobs, wealth, services and opportunities within their neighborhoods—culminating in meaningful community impact.”
There are five key components to The BRIDGE program:
- A podcast series with African American entrepreneurs, community leaders and educators.
- Training sessions tailored for African American business owners.
- Customized private consulting sessions.
- A virtual student center (to supplement the work of SC SBDC business consultants).
- An Advisory Council consisting of key stakeholders in the African American and HBCU communities.
COMPONENTS AND PARTICIPANTS OF THE BRIDGE PROGRAM:
“We intentionally crafted The BRIDGE to facilitate the important conversations and collaborations that must occur to create economic growth and prosperity in African American communities,” said Rebecca Blackburn Hines, the SC SBDC’s CARES Act program manager.
The SC SBDC invites all African American small and medium-sized business owners to support The BRIDGE program by accepting the challenge to pursue goals that advance both their businesses AND their communities. Visit scsbdc.com/bridge to take the challenge today.