Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Ga.

Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Ga.

Credit: Courtesy of Congresswoman Nikema Williams official website

Recently, U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Georgia) has introduced the Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act. along with fellow Reps. Alma Adams (D-North Carolina), Dwight Evans (D-Pennsylvania), Brian Fitzpatrick (D-Pennsylvania), and Norma Torres (D-California) who are co-sponsors of this legislation.

The bill would create a grant program with the Small Business Administration for entrepreneurs at minority-serving institutions such as historically Black colleges and universities. Williams says this would address the wealth gap that has continually plagued African-American communities. 

“Too often, Black and brown entrepreneurs face enormous barriers to accessing the capital needed to launch and sustain businesses. The Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program will help to break down those barriers and ensure that the next generation of minority business owners have a fair shot at the promise of America. Investing in minority-owned businesses is also one path on the journey to close the racial wealth gap. I am proud to advance legislation to continue creating equity in entrepreneurship opportunity for everyone — no matter your ZIP Code, no matter your bank account.”

Additionally, the legislation would enable minority-serving institutions to apply for grants starting at $250,000 to provide resources for student entrepreneurs.

“We enthusiastically support the innovative measure introduced today by Congresswoman Nikema Williams to increase entrepreneurship in communities of color,” said Nancy Flake Johnson, the President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta. “By promoting small business development at colleges and universities that historically serve people of color, The Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act will help ensure a pipeline of successful minority entrepreneurs.”

The introduction of the Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act comes at a time where minority-based initiatives are under attack by the far right. The Fearless Fund was sued by Edward Blum because he said the Black-woman led venture capital firm is discriminatory in its nature.

According to a study conducted by Pew Research, majority Black American-owned businesses made up the greatest shareof all classifiable firms in the District of Columbia, Georgia and Maryland. Additionally, Nearly 6-in-10 Black adults (58%) say supporting Black businesses, or “buying Black,” is an extremely or very effective strategy for moving Black people toward equality in the United States. 

“Statistics show that minority entrepreneurs disproportionately struggle to receive adequate financing to stay in business,” Williams continued. “Bloomberg reports, for example, that 8 of 10 Black-owned businesses fail within the first 18 months. We applaud Congresswoman Williams and her colleagues for taking action to address an issue of this magnitude and to improve the rate of sustainability and success for small businesses owned by Black, Brown, Asian, and Indigenous entrepreneurs.”

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Atlanta Voice.