By Maddy Kennedy | July 27, 2018 | MinneInno
A group of 16 local entrepreneurs recently completed the Metropolitan Economic Development Association‘s (Meda) first Mini MBA program, a curriculum designed to refresh and jumpstart minority-owned businesses and startups in the Twin Cities.
Meda, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that provides consulting to minority-owned businesses, announced the creation of the Mini MBA program last fall, and kicked off its first cohort in January. By offering a program that helps participants craft business plans, Meda hopes to offset the sluggish growth that many minority-owned companies face after a few years in business, Meda CEO Gary Cunningham said.
“We see this happen all the time with minority businesses,” Cunningham explained. “They start with a lot of energy, contacts and relationships, which helps for a few years, but then they hit a plateau.”
The Mini MBA program is a seven-month, business-growth curriculum that teaches owners better management skills, how to gain access to capital and how to network to find new business. Some of the topics covered in the program include finance, statistics, supply chain, management, fundamental accounting, and other areas of business.
The curriculum is built around the Streetwise MBA program, designed by Boston-based Interise Inc. By the time participants receive their Mini MBAs, they have created an intensive, three-year growth action plan. They also are assigned mentors who continue to work with them after the program wraps up.
In order to be eligible for the Mini MBA program, applicants must be part of a minority-owned business that’s at least three years old, has at least one employee and is generating between $250,000 to $10 million in annual revenue. MEDA charges a $1,000 fee to participate in the program, but $500 of that is refunded upon completion.
“We have high expectations because we’re using resources too,” Cunningham said. “It’s a bootcamp. You have to show up. You have to put in the work.”
Each cohort is limited to 18 entrepreneurs, but far more wanted in on the new program. Around 10 people who didn’t get into the course showed up on the first day of class, hoping that one of the enrolled students would drop out and they could take their place, Cunningham said.
“We could easily be doing three of four classes at a time,” he added. “There’s that much demand.”
For now, Meda is sticking with one Mini MBA class annually. The nonprofit will host an information session for its next cohort in early October, and will kick off the second Mini MBA class in January 2019. Within the next year or so, Meda hopes to add another Mini MBA program, running two each year.
Entrepreneurs who went through the first program saw their business’ revenue climb an average of 43 percent, Cunningham said, and almost 100 percent of the participating companies reached profitability.
Receiving a Mini MBA also helps business owners revive what Cunningham calls their “entrepreneurial thirst.” It’s easy to lose enthusiasm or drive after being in business for a while. Some of this year’s participants had run startups or small businesses for more than a decade. Resources like the Mini MBA program can help these experienced entrepreneurs get out of a rut and onto their next stage of growth.
“We feel very excited to be able to do this work because it’s the number one way Minnesota and the Twin Cities is going to deal with issues of diversity and disparity,” Cunningham said. “Businesses create jobs and jobs create opportunities.”