RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -The inaugural Community Business Academy, a program for aspiring and current business owners in Richmond, is weeks away from launching.
The Community Business Academy is a 12-week course by The Jackson Ward Collective Foundation (JWC). A nonprofit that helps aspiring and Black-owned business owners access resources needed to survive and thrive in the business world.
The academy is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs with strong ideas or concepts and current Black business owners looking to strengthen their operations. Those accepted will attend weekly in-person sessions that will provide hands-on training and teach business fundamentals.
Melody Short is the director of programs and co-founder of the JWC Foundation. She explains what participants can look forward to.
“We will cover everything from exploring your business concept and ensuring that it’s a viable business model to finances as well,” Short said. “We’ll explore marketing and each component of your business plan.”
The CBA will be licensed through Rising Tide Capital, a New Jersey-based nonprofit that has provided business development services for nearly two decades.
With the help of sponsors like Altria, Capital One and Dominion Energy, academy participants will get to enroll in the program. Participants can pay fees on a sliding scale, with the price not to exceed $250. The value of the program is $3,000.
Benjamin Miles, a local barber who works out of a salon at Altria’s Headquarters, is excited about the opportunity. He dreams of opening his own unisex barber shop someday, but like any aspiring entrepreneur, he is unsure how to get started.
“I literally don’t know how to start the process, so I would like to see the first step to the actual last step, from ideation to launch and everything in between, but having someone to actually guide me through that process without having to make catastrophic,” Miles said.
The academy is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs with strong ideas or concepts and current Black business owners looking to strengthen their operations. Those accepted will attend weekly in-person sessions that will provide hands-on training and teach business fundamentals.
Melody Short is the director of programs and co-founder of the JWC Foundation. She explains what participants can look forward to.
“We will cover everything from exploring your business concept and ensuring that it’s a viable business model to finances as well, ” Short said. “We’ll explore marketing and each component of your business plan.”
The CBA will be licensed through, Rising Tide Capital, a New Jersey-based nonprofit that has provided business development services for nearly two decades.
With the help of sponsors like Altria, Capital One and Dominion Energy, academy participants can enroll in the program using a sliding scale, with a fee of no more than $250. The value of the program is $3,000.
Benjamin Miles, a local barber who works out of a salon at Altria’s Headquarters, is excited about the opportunity. He dreams of opening his own unisex barber shop someday, but like an aspiring entrepreneur, he is unsure how to get started.
“I literally don’t know how to start the process, so I would like to see the first step to the actual last step from ideation to launch and everything in between, but having someone to actually guide me through that process without having to make catastrophic,” Miles said.
According to Fundera by NerdWallet and other studies, eight out of 10 Black-owned businesses fail within the first 18 months. Disparities in funding and resources are a part of the root cause.
The average level of startup capital among Black entrepreneurs is just $35,205, as opposed to $106,720 for white entrepreneurs, according to “Black and White: Access to Capital Among Minority-Owned Startups,” NerdWallet reports.
It is just one of the reasons why Rasheeda Creighton, executive director of JWC, says the CBA is critical.
“The disparities around financial contributions are huge, but what we also forget is that social capital and access to information is also a barrier for us to be able to start our businesses,” Creighton said.
Like Short, Creighton is deeply passionate about helping others and feels honored to be in a position to help aspiring and Black current business owners.
Miles is just grateful for the support.
“It can change my generation, the people behind me,” Miles said. “There’s going to be so many people that need something like this.”
The academy launches on Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 1717 Innovation Center in Shockoe Bottom on 1717 E Cary St. Participants must attend the third and final virtual information session Wednesday, Aug. 3.
For information on the CBA final information session, visit here.
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