National small business mentorship program expands to Northern Virginia; nominations due Sept. 24

Small business owners in Northern Virginia are invited to apply to participate in the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City’s (ICIC) Inner City’s Capital Connections (ICCC) program, a tuition-free, 40-hour “mini-MBA” program that combines executive education, webinars and coaching delivered by top-ranking university professors and local experts. A nationwide program, the upcoming 2021 cohort marks the first time that the ICCC has been offered to small businesses in Northern Virginia. With applications due September 24, the Northern Virginia cohort kicks off with seminars on October 19 and 21.

Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, the program is designed to help small businesses in communities facing economic injustice develop strategies to build capacity for sustainable growth and opportunities to connect with capital sources to help create jobs locally. The program is particularly relevant this year as many small businesses in communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) and Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance (NOVA EDA), the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of CommerceVirginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce and other partners are collaborating to build awareness of the opportunity for small business owners across Northern Virginia.

“This tuition-free program designed by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City is exactly the kind of technical assistance that can build the capacity of minority-owned businesses across Northern Virginia,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the FCEDA at the program’s Northern Virginia kick-off virtual event on July 28.  “We have all known for a long time that access to capital, one-on-one coaching, and capacity-building education are essential for businesses from underserved communities to survive and thrive. And we also know that the pandemic only made the problem more acute.”

A business must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for participation.

  • Be an independent, for-profit or non-profit corporation, partnership or proprietorship.
  • Have its headquarters or more than 51 percent of its physical operations located in an economically-distressed area or  have more than 40 percent of employees residing in an economically-distressed area.
  • Be past the proof-of-concept stage.
  • Have been in operation for two years or more. ICCC does not accept start-up companies.

On a case-by-case basis, businesses will be considered that do not meet all of the specified criteria on the recommendation of a nominator, according to the ICCC.

According to the ICCC, 3,836 ICCC alumni nationwide from 2005-2019 have averaged 126 percent growth in revenue, raised $2.3 billion in capital, and created 22,707 jobs in their communities.

In Washington, D.C., from 2017-2020, 261 ICCC alumni have averaged 51 percent growth in revenue, raised $55 million in capital; and created 793 jobs. The 2020 DC cohort included 87 percent Black, indigenous or people-of-color-owned and 63 percent woman-owned businesses, according to Kaiser Permanente.

(Image courtesy of Inner City Capital Connections)

“The ICCC program offers valuable lessons for small business owners at any phase – from start-up owners to more experienced entrepreneurs like myself,” said Kevin Jennings, an ICCC alum who completed the program in Atlanta, and is CEO and co-founder of Millennium Corp., an Arlington-based cybersecurity company. “Even in a virtual environment, I was able to learn from the first-hand experiences entrepreneurs and build relationships within the local business community. I am thrilled that the ICCC is expanding to Northern Virginia and I encourage fellow small business owners to consider this opportunity.”

Entrepreneurs accepted into the program will participate in 40 hours of high-impact virtual learning that is divided into four components designed to maximize each participant’s experience and accommodate their busy schedules. Throughout the program, participants engage in webinars, digital learning sessions and one-on-one business coaching appointments that tackle immediate challenges. The program culminates with a virtual national conference that focuses on building strategies of resilience and connecting with capital providers.

“ICIC is proud to partner with Kaiser Permanente to foster inclusive prosperity in inner-city communities,” said Steve Grossman, CEO of ICIC. “Together, we are creating sustainable small business ecosystems in the region’s most economically vulnerable cities by providing hundreds of under-resourced local entrepreneurs the ability to build access to capital and achieve sustainable growth in revenue and employment.”

Funding for this year’s cohorts is part of a $100 million commitment that Kaiser Permanente announced last June to advance racial equity, strengthen businesses led by people of color to help them overcome systemic economic disadvantage and to support them in the wake of COVID-19.

To nominate a business, click here. To apply for the program for your own business click here.

For additional information and assistance, Fairfax County-based business owners may contact Karen Smaw, the FCEDA’s director of business diversity and investment, at ksmaw@fceda.org.

ICIC was founded by renowned Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter in 1994 as a research and strategy organization that today is widely recognized as the preeminent authority on urban economic growth. ICIC drives inclusive economic prosperity in under-resourced communities through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents.

“Healthy small businesses bring jobs and important services to our communities,” said Celeste James, executive director, Community Health, Kaiser Permanente, Mid-Atlantic. “We are honored to partner with ICIC to invest in the future of Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia.”

Black-owned Business Showcase this weekend at Springfield Town Center

August is Black Business Month. Show your support for Black-owned businesses by participating in the Black-owned Business Showcase at the Springfield Town Center this Saturday and Sunday, August 7 and 8. Shop with more than 25 small Black-owned businesses in the Grand Court. To find out about vendor and sponsor opportunities, apply online here.

August 5, 2021