Cedar Valley launches new accelerator program for minority-owned businesses

Several organizations in the Cedar Valley have partnered to launch the Cedar Valley Minority Business & Entrepreneurship Accelerator (CVMBEA), an accelerator for minority-owned businesses.

The CVMBEA program provides financial aid, networking opportunities, mentorship and scale strategies for new and existing minority-owned businesses in the Waterloo and Cedar Falls area.

The idea for the program came shortly after COVID began when there was a noticeable difference in the amount of funding that minority-owned businesses were getting from PPP [paycheck protection program] funding, ReShonda Young, Manager of the program, told Clay & Milk.

“COVID was really the culmination of us saying, ‘we’ve got to do something,'” said Young. “Before that though, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metro area was in 2017 voted the number one worst place for black Americans to live in the whole United States so this has been an ongoing problem.”

The pilot program of the accelerator began in early September and will run until mid-December. Fourteen companies were accepted into the pilot program of the accelerator.

As part of the program, Young meets with the business owners every Monday as a group and then meets with them again individually throughout the week.

“They’ll have between 3 and 5 goals that they want to hit between now and the end of the program,” said Young. “Basically we are trying to pull them out of working out working in their business 100% of the time and taking a percentage of that time to start working on their businesses.”

Young says she hopes to begin marketing for the next class of businesses as we got close to the end of this one. “We’re tying it with UNI’s schedule so we can have some of the classes focus on helping a business as their project.”

“It’s been really great to see such a large amount of support for the program,” said Young. “We’ve had a lot of community support with the City of Waterloo, UNI, Red Cedar, Waterloo Community Schools, and Grow Cedar Valley all coming together and rallying behind this.”