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The White House Announced that South Carolina’s only Statewide Women’s Business Center at an HBCU will Receive $2 Million from the Minority Business Development Agency Capital Readiness Program

 The Grant will enable the Benedict College Women’s Business Center to help empower entrepreneurs from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds in South Carolina.

Columbia, SC, August 14, 2023, The Benedict College Women’s Business Center (WBC) has been selected as one of 43 organizations nationwide to receive a significant grant award from the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Capital Readiness Program (CRP).  The $2 million that the BC WBC will receive is part of the Biden Administration’s Capital Readiness Program. Over the next four years, the grant will enable the WBC to expand its mission and services which focuses on empowering entrepreneurs from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

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Shauna R. Cooper, Executive Director of the Benedict College Women’s Business Center, and Don Cravins, Jr. the first Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development at the Press Conference held on Friday, August 4, 2023, in Washington, DC.

“We are thrilled and humbled to be chosen as a recipient of this grant. With this funding, we can further our commitment to supporting under-resourced entrepreneurs, especially women, veterans, and those from rural communities in South Carolina,” said, Shauna R. Cooper, the Executive Director of the Benedict College Women’s Business Center.

“Our goal is to emphasize diversity and inclusion in the business world. This grant will enable us to make a lasting impact on the entrepreneurial landscape.”

“We applaud the Minority Business Development Agency for their commitment to supporting incubators and accelerators that are providing critical services to South Carolina’s underserved businesses,” said Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, President and CEO of Benedict College. “I am proud that our Women’s Business Center is one of the first awardees under the Capital Readiness Program especially since it is the only statewide Women’s Business Center at an HBCU.”

“The Capital Readiness Program marks the largest investment to support underserved entrepreneurs and businesses in Commerce Department history,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The Biden Administration continues to make historic investments in building a strong, equitable economy, including by supporting our Nation’s small and disadvantaged businesses. The Capital Readiness Program will provide the resources and tools to prepare businesses to access capital and funding, and ensure prosperity is within reach for all American entrepreneurs.

Under the grant program, the WBC will implement initiatives designed to address the unique needs of socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs in South Carolina. The WBC aims to level the playing field by providing accessible and flexible technical assistance services, ensuring that all entrepreneurs have the necessary tools to succeed. The program will offer both virtual and in-person resources, including agnostic and retail-specific accelerator programs, mentoring, consultation services, and networking events tailored to the diverse needs of the participants.

“We also want to acknowledge the continuous advocacy of Congressman James E. Clyburn and his unwavering support of the MBDA which is the only federal government agency dedicated solely to supporting the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises,” noted Dr. Artis. “As the first Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development, Mr. Donald Cravins, Jr. has shown outstanding leadership championing the nation’s 9.7 million minority business enterprises.”

Through intentional programming, mentorship, networking, and one-on-one business consultation services, the WBC strives to create a more equitable and diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem. By breaking down barriers and offering equal opportunities for success, the center aims to foster a thriving entrepreneurial community.

The award from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency was announced by Vice President Kamala Harris at a White House “Investing in America: Small Business” event on August 4. 

“President Biden and I firmly believe that for America’s economy to be strong, America’s small businesses must be strong. I am proud to announce that we will invest an additional $125 million in small businesses across our country through a national network of small business incubators and accelerators,” said Harris.


About Benedict College (benedict.edu)

Founded in 1870 by a woman, Bathsheba A. Benedict, Benedict College is a private co-educational liberal arts institution offering 26 competitive baccalaureate degree programs. The Midlands HBCU welcomes students from all 46 counties in South Carolina, 30 states across America, and 26 countries around the world. The College also has a diverse faculty; more importantly, 80 percent of courses are taught by full-time faculty. 

Benedict College has been highly regarded and exceptionally ranked for its programs by several academic and traditional publications.   2019 Benedict College received the 2019 ACE/ Fidelity Investments Awards for Institutional Transformation and was named the HBCU of the Year by HBCU Digest. Benedict College was listed among the top half of ranked HBCUs in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges by US News and World Report.

Benedict College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and master’s degrees. Six of the College’s degree programs hold national accreditation: The School of Education, Social Work Program, Environmental Health Science Program, Environmental Engineering Program, Studio Art Program, and the Tyrone Adam Burroughs School of Business and Entrepreneurship.

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