WASHINGTON (Globe Newswire) — Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), signed a Strategic Alliance Memorandum (SAM)–an authority unique to the SBA among federal agencies–with President Reuben A. Shelton III, Esq., on behalf of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)’s Council of Presidents, comprised of nine historically Black fraternities and sororities, sometimes referred to as the “Divine Nine.”
“This historic alliance between the SBA and the NPHC—the first of its kind for a government agency—will bring SBA’s valuable small business resources into reach for many small businesses and entrepreneurs, furthering the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to build equity and close historic wealth gaps that have held back America’s Black entrepreneurs, small business owners and their families and communities for generations,” Guzman said. “Over the past 18 months, the SBA has made incredible progress reaching more of America’s small businesses, delivering vital resources and support to entrepreneurs who have been historically underinvested in and overlooked—the same people and communities hit hardest by the COVID pandemic. Working alongside partners and allies within the Divine Nine will provide even greater reach for the SBA to better provide the highly entrepreneurial Black community access to networks, financial literacy, technical training, and capital readiness so they can successfully realize their American Dreams of business ownership, create jobs, and advance our economy.”
Announced in the leadup to Juneteenth, this new strategic alliance advances the SBA’s implementation of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to building equity throughout the federal government and across America. Under the new alliance, a unique agreement for a federal government agency, the partnership will focus on increasing financial literacy within traditionally underserved, disadvantaged communities, expanding the Agency’s outreach, and introducing Black entrepreneurs to the SBA’s suite of tools and resources to start and grow their businesses including access to capital, government contracting opportunities and counseling.
Reuben A. Shelton III, Esq., Chairman of the Council of Presidents of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Grand Polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., added: “The National Pan Hellenic Council and its affiliate organizations are very excited about this opportunity with the U.S. Small Business Administration. This collaboration will give NPHC members critical access to information that will promote small business growth and create jobs in all sectors of our economy.”
Often represented on thousands of university campuses, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), with members in leadership roles across civic and business organizations and the faith community, the NPHC boasts over 2.5 million active members and scores of alumni members. Taken together, this group of engaged leaders is a critical ally in helping building trust within key communities and introducing small business owners to critical resources to bolster their business outcomes as we seek to close the wealth gap. The NPHC represents the following organizations:
- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
- Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
- Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
- Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
- Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
- Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.
Deepened engagement and support
In line with the Biden-Harris Administration’s agenda outlined in the recently released SBA Equity Action Plan, the SBA has instituted several major changes to level the playing field for all small businesses, including making impactful reforms to the Community Advantage (CA) Pilot loan program that prioritizes equitable access to capital for low-income borrowers and those from underserved communities, releasing disaggregated data across industries and sectors by race and ethnicity and helping to deliver contracting reforms to bring in new, diverse contractors, and launching the American Rescue Plan’s $100 million Community Navigators program.
In addition, the SBA has expanded the number of Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) it supports to 146 – the largest WBC network in the history of the SBA. Notably, this investment under Administrator Guzman signifies the tripling of WBCs at HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Since March 2021, the complete listing of WBCs housed on the campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) now includes:
- Miles College, Fairfield, Alabama
- Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia
- Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland
- Bowie State University, Bowie, Maryland
- Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi
- Alcorn State University, Lorman, Mississippi
- Bennett College, Greensboro, North Carolina
- Winston-Salem State University, Winston Salem, North Carolina
- Benedict College, Columbia, South Carolina
- Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia
SBA remains committed to increasing capital for small businesses, including those in underserved communities. This means ensuring entrepreneurs have access to capital, standard and disaster lending programs, and PPP direct forgiveness as well as assistance in growing their revenues by getting their products online or into global markets and accessing federal contracting opportunities, often by connecting them to one of the Agency’s newly launched Community Navigators, hundreds of Field Offices, or thousands of Resource Partners – including Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, SCORE chapters, and Veterans Business Ownership Centers – for mentoring, training, and assistance in navigating government resources.
For additional information on SBA funding opportunities, please visit www.sba.gov/funding-programs.