EXCLUSIVE: Minority Business Development Agency Acting Director Miguel Estién chats with theGrio about how the administration is supporting minority entrepreneurs.
Small Business Saturday is one of the busiest shopping periods of the year, routinely falling after the mad rush of Black Friday and the Thanksgiving holiday. In existence since 2010, Small Business Saturday naturally encompasses the many Black-owned and minority-owned businesses across the nation, and the Biden-Harris Administration forecasts a positive outlook for this weekend’s shopping experience.
Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Acting Director Miguel Estién spoke with theGrio about Small Business Saturday and how it will positively effect business owners across the board.
Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Acting Director Miguel Estién. (Photo: Department of Commerce)
When asked what the MBDA hopes to achieve by openly supporting Small Business Saturday as it relates to minority communities, theGrio learned that a significant portion of business owners stand to benefit from the influx of customers this coming weekend.
“Roughly a third of all small businesses across the United States are owned by a minority individual,” said Estién. “That translates to around 9 million minority-owned businesses.
“We support the community in a few ways,” Estién continued. “One, we are the leading agency in obtaining research, providing data, and raising awareness for this segment of the business community. We work alongside our sister agencies among other federal departments to bolster that awareness effort, especially when new programs are enacted for those who need assistance.”
Estién added that the MBDA has its own set of programs such as its flagship Business Centers program, which provides support both virtually and within its centers with nearly three dozen locations nationwide, including Puerto Rico.
“Our business centers perform various functions of support such as accessing capital, serving as a liaison for state and federal government partnerships, exporting, hiring practices, implementing managerial strategies, and much more,” Estién said.
Estién gave praise to the Biden-Harris administration and Congress for pushing forward with a mandate that will make the MBDA a permanent agency, which in turn will give it broader resources across the board.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and vaccination program as Vice President Kamala Harris listens in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
“This administration, under the leadership of President [Joe] Biden, we’ve received a mandate from Congress to make this agency permanent by way of the infrastructure bill. This in turn helps us improve existing programs, and we’re most excited about taking these opportunities to the next level,” Estién told theGrio.
Estién was clear in stating that the MBDA isn’t merely a collection of government programs as it works with an ecosystem that consists of members of academia, the NGO (non-governmental organization) community, and other corporations while centering minorities in its influx of programs and future planning.
“Whether you own a restaurant, a dry-cleaning business, or a technology platform, the MBDA is the place [where] the community can come to for support that will be sensitive to their respective needs and focus,” Estién shared.
It comes as no surprise that minority businesses face barriers and roadblocks at a greater clip than their White counterparts. TheGrio asked Estién how the MBDA hopes to bring about equity in the business world for the community they’re pledged to serve.
“For this administration, equity as been a goal from day one,” Estién said. “President Biden opened with equity being one of his mandates, and it remains a priority for every program that we implement now and going forward.
WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 28: U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff shop in the Downton Holiday Market on November 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris made it point to shop at local shops for small business Saturday. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
“For the MBDA, one of our strategic goals is to achieve parity in terms of access, success, and representation across all industries. Ultimately, we are here to remove those barriers that stand in the way of our goals.”
The MBDA not only provides tools for business startup such as raising capital, but also pointing prospective owners to programs such as the Treasury Department’s State Small Business Credit Initiative, which came into view under the American Rescue Plan Act, giving the program a $10 billion boost of cash and is geared to assist disadvantaged businesses primarily.
Estién also made mention of the Small Business Administration’s relaxing of its guidelines to apply for the PPP loans and shared that this is only the beginning of the agency’s wide efforts.
“This is a concentrated focus on the community we serve, and our emphasis on supporting them has never been stronger and we’re super excited about what’s to come,” Estién said.
To learn more about the MBDA, click here.
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