Urban League, Babson College effort highlights importance of a diverse business-owned environment (Editorial)

A program through Babson College aims to offer business growth opportunities for Black women entrepreneurs.

A program through Babson College aims to offer business growth opportunities for Black women entrepreneurs. This plan answers a call to provide tools to address a disparity in minority-owned businesses versus that of non-minority women-owned firms. The program, called Babson Black Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program “aims to help Black women entrepreneurs grow and sustain their ventures, by offering a virtual accelerator that includes high-level coaching and business growth strategies to assist their businesses to perform successfully in current and future marketplaces,” according to their mission statement.

Many businesses have taken a hit due to shutdowns by the pandemic, with minority businesses suffering devastating blows. Visa’s recent report on Black women-owned businesses cites nearly three-quarters of Black women-owned businesses estimate they can’t survive another year of pandemic conditions. Other obstacles exist. A report by MassINC and the Coalition for an Equitable Economy highlights “both the need and the opportunity to put inclusive entrepreneurship at the core of the state’s economic growth in 2021 and beyond.”

The program at Babson intends to do just that.

With assistance from the Urban League of Springfield – through a $500,000 donation from MassMutual – four area women took part in the course. With businesses such as a residential and adult day-care program, producing organic skin care products or creating balloon displays, some of the women shared a common goal: To make their business a national model for others to follow.

Shakenna Williams, director of global initiatives at Babson’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership said, “In looking at the stats for women entrepreneurs, their average revenue was $24,000 a year, but we are the fastest-growing minority group in the last seven to 10 years. If you look deeper into the data you’ll find that Black women are starting these businesses to supplement their income. This program is really set up towards closing the racial wealth gap along with focusing on workforce development.”

Recognizing the importance of fostering a diverse business-owned environment for the region, the Urban League of Springfield deserves praise for building on the relevance of the Babson program and bringing it to the region by sponsoring four business owners with strong growth potential.

We look forward to see these businesses utilize the strengths and opportunities offered by the Babson program and set a strong, positive example for other Black women entrepreneurs in the region.