There are numerous new and established accelerators that provide BIPOC-owned businesses with coaching, capital, and connections. But this constellation of accelerators does not add up to a cohesive system that adequately serves the needs of BIPOC business owners. There are gaps before, during, and after a business engages with an accelerator.
- Before: no regional system for proactively identifying businesses that are well-suited to an accelerator and matching them with the right program.
- During: accelerators in the region have varying levels of quality and depth of services.
- After: no regional system for ensuring that graduates of accelerators receive access to capital and corporate connections.
The Seattle Metro Chamber and Business Impact NW propose creating a regional network of accelerator programming for historically marginalized businesses that offers high-quality business education, near guaranteed contracting opportunities, and access to traditional and newly designed capital.
Phase I: Business Accelerator Plus Pilot
The Business Accelerator Plus has three key components:
Accelerator: Grow & Thrive is a structured 10-week mentor program led by Business Impact NW with expert guidance and advice. Participants will develop a 3-5 year strategic plan with defined objectives working with their current financial statements, operating manuals, marketing materials, etc. The Seattle Metro Chamber will utilize its connections across the region with other economic development institutions to help recruit underserved businesses into the accelerator.
Near-Guaranteed Capital: Business Impact NW will all but guarantee access to capital for businesses that graduate from the accelerator and obtain a procurement contract from private corporations, municipalities, or the state.
Corporate Connections: The Seattle Metro Chamber will bring corporations and public entities in at the outset to document their specific procurement needs. This will allow Business Impact NW to tailor the accelerator and ensure that graduates have all necessary capabilities and certifications, with assistance from entities such as PTAC and the Mountain Minority Supplier Diversity Council.
Phase 2: Scale the Program
After refining the model for delivering near-guaranteed capital and corporate connections, Business Impact NW and the Seattle Metro Chamber will scale this work.
Before – Proactive Recruitment of High-Potential Firms: The Seattle Metro Chamber and Business Impact NW will help with recruitment into the accelerators to ensure that the businesses with the greatest potential to partner successfully with large corporations are matched with the accelerator that is most appropriate for their needs.
During – Expanded Technical Assistance: Business Impact NW will provide this network of accelerators with loan readiness training, to ensure that graduates are prepared to receive near-guaranteed capital. It will also provide wraparound services for graduates with contracts.
After – Near-Guaranteed Capital and Corporate Connections: Business Impact NW will partner with other CDFIs and funders to create a larger revolving loan fund to support graduating businesses. The Seattle Metro Chamber will grow the pool of private sector employers that are ready and willing to shape accelerator curricula and offer more guaranteed contracts for participants of the accelerators.