Free business program targets minority, women entrepreneurs

Business 101: Participants of the ‘Oppurtunity for Growth’ program listen on during a session at the Harlem Commonwealth Council building. Ibrahima Diallo, foreground, owner of Ginjan Bros, and Dr. Candice Fraser, founder of Trinity Medical Care NYC, seated near him, are two of the many business owners who are part of the program.
Pedro Escobar

A Harlem-based lending company launched a business initiative to support women and minority-owned businesses in the city. The Harlem Commonwealth Council lending sector — the Harlem Entrepreneurial Fund — created the free program ‘Opportunity for Growth’ that will teach and assist participants with sessions on financial education and literacy, marketing, and the do’s and don’ts of running a business.

Collaborating with the council for the program are Citi Bank, Interise, and Columbia University, which launched the initiative CU Grow to support women and minority businesses flourish in the industry, said a university representative.

“Columbia University is pleased to partner with the Harlem Entrepreneurial Fund and further our strong commitment to increasing meaningful opportunities for minority-owned, women-owned and local firms,” said Columbia University facilities and operations assistant Vice President, Tanya Pope. “Opportunity for Growth is an important component of our new CU Grow vendor development program, which will provide expert coaching, capacity building, and professional networking skills to help these businesses succeed as they compete for business here at Columbia and across the City, driving positive growth in our communities.”

Women of color are uniquely confronted with race and gender discrimination and the initiative can help avoid that gap and provide these entrepreneurs with their backing, said the company president.

“‘Opportunity for Growth’ will deliver to women and minority firms the skills, resources, and connections needed to stabilize, adapt, and thrive in the rapidly evolving local economy,” said Kelvin Collins, president of Harlem Commonwealth Council.

The three-hour bi-weekly sessions assist entrepreneurs with key business management tools, such as making business plans, creating capital, and financing and marketing strategies, according to the council.

The program comes at no cost, but requirements other than being a woman or minority, ask that you must be a small business owner and live within specific zip codes in upper Manhattan. Matthew said ‘Opportunity for Growth’ currently has participants from businesses including contract businesses and more.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]

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