By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced last month that a new Women’s Business Center is set to launch in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In partnership with the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, the center will be operated by the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC), and it will become the SBA’s 138th Women’s Business Center.
After World War I, Tulsa’s Greenwood District was recognized nationally for its wealthy and thriving African American community. Its flourishing business sector became famously known as Black Wall Street. In 1921, the district was destroyed by White rioters in a race massacre that burned Greenwood to the ground and killed hundreds of African Americans.
In June, President Joe Biden visited Tulsa in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the race massacre. There, he announced that he would increase the number of federal contracts awarded to small, disadvantaged businesses.
Following this declaration, the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership put out a Notice of Funding Opportunity to establish a Women’s Business Center in Tulsa, which the USBC then won. It will receive $150,000 annually for five years and has the option of receiving funding for an additional three years.
“Being able to have the USBC, who competitively won the grant award for this Women’s Business Center in partnership with the Greenwood Chamber, is a big deal from the perspective of being able to engage with also another fast-growing entrepreneurial segment, which is African American women,” said Natalie Madeira Cofield, assistant administrator of the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership.
Women comprise the fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs in the U.S., and that growth is primarily driven by African American- and Hispanic-led businesses. However, women of color face disparities in access to capital, receiving less than .002% of venture capital funds, according to Cofield.
Women Business Centers aid female entrepreneurs in growing and scaling their businesses by offering access to educational training, business counseling, opportunities for capital, financial training on various loans and disaster recovery. They also provide community for the business owners.
With the new Tulsa Women’s Business Center, as with all of the existing centers, Cofield is excited for women entrepreneurs to build and grow successful businesses in their communities. This creates more jobs for residents and contributes to household incomes.
“We know that when women do well, all communities do well,” said Cofield. “The goal of the Women’s Business Center is to be able to give women an equitable opportunity to compete entrepreneurially and to be prepared for small business.”
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