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Closing the Capital Gap in Philadelphia

Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) is about to reach a new market of urban entrepreneurs.  The national program designed to help small businesses access capital and achieve sustainable growth is hosting a capital training day on July 31st for the first in the city of Philadelphia.

Entrepreneurs from the Philadelphia area will access a full day of executive education at the Wharton School of Business, including seminars on talent management, strategy, marketing and sales, entrepreneurial finance, raising capital, and component of an investor pitch.

ICCC is expanding to Philadelphia, partly due to the amazing local partners that have supported the program’s mission.  In addition to the Wharton School, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), Small Business Administration and the Office of Senator Hughes are supporters of the program’s expansion to Philadelphia.

The MBDA has been a long-time partner of ICCC, nominating small businesses to participate in the program. Below, James Sanders, director at the MBDA Business Center Philadelphia offers insight about why he partners with ICIC to help small businesses access growth resources.

How do you support small businesses in Philadelphia?

Currently, I am the Director at the MBDA Business Center Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We are operated by The Enterprise Center.  Our organization has been focused on Entrepreneurship since inception.  Our niche area is minority-owned businesses.  Our team is a provider of consulting services in three (3) key areas. Those areas are:

  • Access to markets/contracts: we focus on business development and revenue diversification in multiple industries, such as government, healthcare, education, etc.
  •   Access to capital: we provide loan packaging, financial analysis, intermediary services, due diligence, and much more.
  •  Strategic business consulting: we provide tailored consulting services with the intent to drive revenue growth, client acquisition and increased profit margins. We also focus on marketing, financial management, and operations & quality management
  •  Market Research and Development: our team of consultants does a thorough scan of the local, state, regional, and national environment to determine procurement and capital opportunities.
  • Business promotion and Advocacy: we host, co-host, and sponsor business to business match making events (B2B’s), networking events, seminars/workshops, and are abreast of legislative and policy issues concerning MBE’s.

Why is a program like ICCC an important resource for urban entrepreneurs?

The American economy is being redefined right before our eyes. The days of working for large companies for 30 years are rare in the 21st century. Times have changed. In the mid-to-late 1990’s technology began to rise in the mainstream and change how we work, learn, bank, communicate, and run businesses.  Our economy is recovering from one of the toughest economic downturns since the “great depression”.  I don’t think we could have the great depression twice otherwise it would lose the meaning of great, so we had a “great recession”.  Cities are being developed and becoming more vibrant than ever.  Incubators, accelerators, debt, equity, and alternative financiers are locating in urban cities.  There is still a disconnect between funders and entrepreneurs. ICCC is there to close the gap and to bring the financiers to the business owners. When you think of financing for entrepreneurs they are located in hubs, like New York, Boston, San Francisco’s Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C.

How did you become a nominating partner for ICIC? 

My background is in banking and financial services after doing some due diligence on various forms of financing for business owners, I learned about the Inner City Capital Connections program from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency.  Over 5 years ago Hyacinth Vassell, Director of the ICCC program did a presentation at MBDA National MED Week. After hearing the presentation, I was sold. On an annual basis, I nominate firms to ICCC, attend webinars, and keep up with the organization (ICIC) at least monthly if not more. I follow ICIC on Twitter, LinkedIn, and constant updates.

What do you look for in businesses that you nominate for ICCC? 

The most important thing I look for in businesses that I nominate is the minimum requirements to qualify.  Next, I meet with the management team to talk about the opportunity afford to them if they are selected to participate in the ICCC program. The business should be financially solvent; they should have financial controls in place, an executive in-house or out-sourced managing the financials, such as taxes, financial statements, etc. I also look for a company with a unique value proposition that will set their firm apart from the crowd. Lastly, the ideal nominee in my opinion is a firm that seeking growth and expansion to create jobs in their respective inner city economy.

Have any of your nominees participated in ICCC? How are they doing today?  

Yes, I have at least 5 firms participate per year. So far we have two clients seeking over $5,000,000 in financing and another received $1,500,000, which they attributed to the training they received through ICCC.

Learn more about MBDA Business Center Philadelphia.


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