WWBIC to launch accelerator for minority-owned businesses

11-week program will have five businesses per cohort

The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. will soon launch the “Diversity Driven Growth Accelerator,” a program that supports and grows businesses owned by minorities, veterans and women in greater Milwaukee, the organization announced this week.

The Diversity Driven Growth Accelerator is an 11-week program with five businesses per cohort. During the accelerator, each business will develop their business models by engaging in consumer testing and integrating input from customers, mentors and advisers.

By the end of the program, each business will pitch their business plan to qualify for a $500 minimum seed grant. The first-place winner of the pitch competition will receive $1,500 while second and third place will receive $1,000 and $500 respectively, said Wendy Baumann, WWBIC president and CVO.

Baumann said the accelerator will focus on “Main Street” businesses such as gyms or bakeries as opposed to tech businesses, which are typically associated with startups or accelerator programs.

“Many accelerators throughout Wisconsin are tied to technology and gazelle companies, but this growth accelerator is really looking a little bit more at Main Street businesses,” Baumann said. “Main Street businesses that are early stage but really want to grow and accelerate.”

WWBIC will host a total of four “Diversity Driven Growth Accelerator” cohorts with at least two scheduled in 2020 and the fourth in 2021, Baumann said. All programs will focus on diverse businesses; however, one program may be held entirely in Spanish while another will focus specifically on veteran-owned businesses, she added.

In August, Wells Fargo awarded WWBIC a $500,000 grant, part of which is being used to fund the Diversity Driven Growth Accelerator program, according to a press release.

Applications for the program are due no later than close of business Friday, Dec. 6th. The accelerator is open to businesses and/or residents of the Greater Milwaukee area.

The accelerator will start the week of Jan. 6 with exact date and time to be determined, according to a press release. The application can be found here.

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Brandon Anderegg
Brandon covers startups, technology, banking and finance. He previously worked as a general assignment and court reporter for The Freeman in Waukesha. Brandon graduated from UW-Milwaukee’s journalism, advertising and media studies program with an emphasis in journalism. He enjoys live music, playing guitar and loves to hacky sack.