How KC Entrepreneur Resources Help Black Founders Launch, Grow BusinessesPorcshe Moran Murphy
Did you know Kansas City is home to over 230 nonprofit organizations that can boost your small business? These Resource Partners are ready to help you advance at every stage of your venture, and when the pandemic struck, they were ready to support those in need. While COVID-19 has challenged nearly every founder, the problems have been especially glaring for entrepreneurs of color. The Resource Partner Network responded with existing organizations pivoting and new groups forming to bridge gaps in assistance for current and future Black small business owners.
“Anyone can start a small business with the right support, but we know the road is harder for some than it is for others,” says Carilyn Riley of SCORE Kansas City’s Community Strategic Alliance. “There’s an extensive ecosystem of resources in Kansas City specifically focused on supporting the success of Black business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.”
To shed light on this free and low-cost help, a panel of six Kansas City-area business leaders, many from KCSourceLink Resource Partner organizations, discussed opportunities for Black entrepreneurs within the local ecosystem during a recent SCORE Kansas City and U.S. Small Business Administration webinar. (SCORE Kansas City has many events on the KCSourceLink Classes and Events Calendar.) Hosted by Isaac Collins, founder of Purposeful Profit Academy, Yogurtini and Superhero Yoga, the conversation covered resources available through chambers and agencies, information on business enablement organizations and funding sources.
Pardon the interruption, but if you’re looking for help for your business (or business idea), KCSourceLink is your connection to hundreds of nonprofit resources in Kansas City that can help you write a business plan, find financial help, locate mentors and business coaches and much, much more. Just tell us what you need here or call us at 816-235-6500, and we’ll craft your custom set of next steps for free and the KC experts who can help.
Now let’s dive into the resources…
Kansas City’s chamber groups and agencies can serve as pivotal resources for founders. The KC Prospect Business Association is just one example. The organization offers free entrepreneurial support programs and business association services related to loan packaging, legal, accounting, marketing, contracts, accessing capital and more. It also facilitates networking opportunities and business-to-business connections.
“Entrepreneurs are often good at their product and services, but the back office is something they need help with, so we provide one-on-one business coaching, including goal setting and forecasting,” says Simone Curls, executive director of the Prospect Business Association. “You should always be asking yourself, ‘How much money am I supposed to make today, how much money did I make this month, and am I hitting my targets?’”
In addition, PBA collaborates with Grow with Google, Kansas City Art Institute and the City of Kansas City’s KC BizCare office to provide monthly online digital skills training, development of basic marketing tools, such as websites and logos, and guidance on how to start a business.
KC BizCare’s website is a virtual one-stop-shop for new and established entrepreneurs operating in Kansas City, Missouri. The free information and resources span business registrations (state, federal, city), licensing (city), permits, taxes, grants and loans, procurement and more.
“We’re the only agency in the nation that provides all the services, technology and initiatives we have for entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises,” says Nia Richardson, assistant director, small business and entrepreneurship, KC BizCare.
The process of growing and scaling is an important part of the entrepreneurship journey. Kansas City is rich with resources to help founders continue to develop their businesses.
Missouri Small Business Development Center at University of Missouri Kansas City provides small businesses and technology venture firms in the Kansas City region with guidance on consulting, management, finance, marketing, international trade, retail and other topics relevant to business building. The staff of current and former business owners, executives and coaches facilitate in-depth programs like GROWTH360 and ScaleUP! Kansas City. They also lead single- and multi-session courses and one-on-one business counseling.
“Our businesses are like our babies,” says David Neal, business development consultant, Missouri SBDC at UMKC. “We’re passionate about them, and we want to see them grow, mature and succeed.”
Donetta Watson founded The Black MasterMind Group, a 501c3 charitable foundation, to serve Black entrepreneurs around the country through education, training, coaching, mentoring and funding initiatives. The organization recently opened the Entrepreneurial Resource and Training Center in Kansas City, Kansas, which offers classes, seminars, coaching, financial review and loan prep services and office and meeting spaces. Scholarships are available to support Black entrepreneurs in Wyandotte County who want to attend the training courses.
“We see too many entrepreneurs jumping into business ill-prepared,” Donetta says. “They have knowledge about their product or service, but they don’t have adequate leadership skills, financial literacy and other needed training and development. Our ultimate desire is to help Black businesses stabilize, sustain and scale from hobbies or side hustles to full-fledged companies with employees and a viable structure.”
Whether through grants, pitch competitions or a traditional bank loan, acquiring funding is one of the most common hurdles for Black entrepreneurs looking to launch their startups. Since May of 2020, G.I. F. T. (Generating Income for Tomorrow) has strived to improve outcomes for Black businesses and neighborhoods in Kansas City.
“We give grants to Black-owned businesses that operate in historically redlined areas of Kansas City, Missouri, where Black poverty is most concentrated,” says Brandon Calloway, CEO, G.I.F.T. “We identify great Black business owners who are already up and running and doing good work, but for some reason, have not been able to access capital. We help them grow through grant funding specifically so they can create jobs and increase the economic viability of the whole community.”
All grant awardees also receive one year of technical assistance from G.I.F.T. which entails business coaching, bookkeeping, legal consulting and marketing services.
“It’s important to have the right team around you when you’re trying to grow a business and be successful,” Brandon says. “It can be difficult for small business owners to build that team, so we want to make sure we provide that for them.”
A study of Paycheck Protection Program loans finds the success rate of white applicants was 60% compared with the success rate of 29% for Black applicants. Shanee` Kimber, vice president, community small business relationship manager, UMB Bank says statistics like this one motivate her to help drive programs and initiatives that support minority entrepreneurs. For 2022, Shanee` says UMB Bank will prioritize second step and owner-occupied financing programs. It will also host industry strategy education sessions in partnership with Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce, Black Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City and The Toolbox Small Business Resource Center.
Although the impacts of the pandemic continue to challenge business owners, Shanee` says entrepreneurs should be encouraged by happenings such as the Minority Business Development Agency helping minority-owned businesses secure more than $2 billion in contracts and $708 million in financing and supporting the creation and retention of nearly 14,000 jobs in 2021.
“The pandemic actually brought opportunities for minority businesses that weren’t available prior,” Shanee` says. “There are bigger and better resources and support than ever before to help you fulfill your business goals.”
More help for your business
There’s more help in KC for your small business (like The Porter House KC, Square One Small Business Services by Mid-Continent Public Library and the Kansas SBDC at Johnson County Community College), and we can connect you to those experts and organizations for free. Just call 816-235-6500 or tell us a bit about what your business needs here, and we’ll craft your custom set of next steps for free.