Pathways to Entrepreneurship: Building Strong Foundations for Growth
The Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) Program has been an economic development initiative of the Greenville Chamber since 2013. The program strives to ensure success and increase the overall capacity of locally-based high potential MBEs in the market.
The SC SBDC has been serving small businesses for more than 40 years and specializes in helping entrepreneurs start, run and grow their business. To continue its mission of providing business related knowledge and assistance, SC SBDC State Director Michele Abraham and SC SBDCs Greenville Area Manager Earl Gregorich met with MBA Program Administrator Dr. Nika White in 2018 to design a custom curriculum that would provide a gateway into the MBA Program.
Now known as Entrepreneurial Pathways (EP), this SC SBDC curriculum is designed to better position socially and economically disadvantaged candidates to become future MBA cohort members. Through a series of sessions, EP teaches participants to identify vital components of a successful business such as marketing, financial management, funding preparation, business planning and regulatory requirements. The program advances individual entrepreneurship skills by encouraging real-world, hands-on application of session topics, and to drive home the cohort-style learning experience, SC SBDC consultants are always available between sessions for one-on-one consultations.
The SC SBDC’s collaboration with the Greenville Chamber has allowed a broader audience to receive guidance on growing a strong, healthy business. Both entities contribute extensive and experienced networks, and the combination of resources provided through the MBA and EP programs has resulted in the successful production of several small companies.
Michele Abraham says working with the Chamber allows the SC SBDC to support entrepreneurs and business owners in both the present and future. “Not only is the EP program developing strong MBA candidates, but it also provides experienced long-term consulting opportunities after MBA graduation,” she says.
Participants of the EP program have also praised the SC SBDC. Jessica Kuhnel, founder of Bavarican—a start-up that sells kitchen gadgets—praises Earl Greogorich for taking the time to examine her website. “We have made changes directly based on his feedback,” she says. “Thanks for pointing these things out!”