Created on June 30, 2016
Igniting the Inclusive Innovation Movement
As New Orleans prepares to welcome the 22nd Annual Essence Festival, the Crescent City and the state of Louisiana anticipate another economic boon from the expected half a million attendees. The festival, rooted in celebrating African-American music and culture, has become “a huge economic engine for the city,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a 2014 interview, noting that the Essence Festival generated some $241 million in revenue.
This year, the Festival promises to soar to new heights. For the first time, the event will feature a Money + Power Expo that offers a transformative experience for attendees, inviting them to think as innovators and entrepreneurs, and to access solution-oriented content to start, sustain, or grow their business.
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is excited to have partnered with Essence to design the Entrepreneurship Village, which anchors the Money + Power Expo. Our program sessions, titled Leap. Run .Grow. will deliver a perfect blend of inspiration and substance through three tracks of interactive workshops and panels designed with a specific goal in mind: supporting a population of emerging and established entrepreneurs whose contributions are essential to America’s economic future.
For MBDA, the Essence Festival presents an ideal vehicle for delivering useful information on entrepreneurship and creative business development strategies to equip entrepreneurs with the skills and resources needed to create a thriving and sustainable business. Our Festival audience will include thousands of the nation’s fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs -- minority women.
Our sessions will be held July 1-3 in the Festival’s Entrepreneurship Village, located at the ErnestN. Morial Convention Center.
Our program’s theme -- Leap. Run. Grow – is also an efficient and engaging way of describing MBDA’s historic mission of growth and sustainability of minority business enterprises (MBEs) in the United States.
Leap. Run. Grow: Black Women Entrepreneurs and the Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem
At Essence Festival, MBDA will reach minority women business owners where they are. My colleagues from MBDA, along with representatives from other federal agencies including the U. S. Department of Treasury, Small Business Administration, and NASA, will impart tools and resources in a context that speaks to their experiences. It is a unique opportunity to connect with entrepreneurs who constitute America’s Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem.
Our knowledge of U.S. Census Bureau and its Survey of Business Owner (SBO) data fuels our commitment to serving this population of emerging entrepreneurs with actionable information. Our work at Essence Festival is informed and driven by data. According to the 2012 SBO report:
- The number of U.S. companies owned by African-American women increased 66.9percent between 2007 and 2012.
- In total, receipts for women-owned firms rose 18.7 percent, from $1.2 trillion in 2007, to $1.4 trillion in 2012.
In addition, the Census Bureau data shows that America is fast becoming a ‘majority-minority’ nation, with several states already boasting collective populations of African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians that are the plurality of residents.
At the same time, even as growing numbers of black women and other minority entrepreneurs embark on journeys to sustainability, a range of barriers impedes growth, including access to capital. Some 80 percent of U.S. venture funding is dispersed to founders and business-owners located in just three U.S. states, less than 5 percent goes to women founders, and less than 1 percent of venture capital funding reaches entrepreneurs of color, according to Ross Baird, Executive Director of Village Capital and a University of Virginia lecturer.
This in part is why the Essence Festival programs we’re leading are strategically focused on spurring growth and sustainability. We’re eager to connect with attendees who are seeking to jumpstart, sustain, or grow their enterprises.
The MBDA slate of offerings includes free master-classes and workshops, including:
- Steps to Starting a Business
- Technology and Innovation
- Tips to Securing Government Contracts
- Pivoting to be a Global Company
I’m particularly inspired by the opportunity to provide information about NASA, one of our partners in the Money + Power programs at Essence Festival. As technological advancements sparked by the Internet and STEM innovations accelerate global trade and commerce, MBDA seeks to provide a wider array of services to foster MBEs within these sectors.
In subsequent posts this week, we’ll share more about MBDA’s role at Essence Festival, including more information on access to capital, contracts, and markets, as well as on Inclusive Innovation efforts that are underway.
Most of all, we are inspired. MBDA’s over-arching goal by partnering with Essence Festival is to provide information that attendees can synthesize and put into motion. The future of America’s economic landscape rests in large part on the success of minority entrepreneurs.
For more information on the full Leap. Run. Grow. sessions that MBDA is leading at Essence Festival’s Entrepreneurship Village, click here.
Posted at 3:43 PM