Columbia-based TEDCO’s Open Institute for Black Women Entrepreneur Excellence program, which will kick off in Howard County, was selected by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee for fiscal 2023 Congressionally Directed Spending funding at a level of $418,000 ― a direct federal funding request sponsored by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
The funding for TEDCO’s 10-month leadership development program was included in the fiscal 2023 Omnibus Spending bill recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden.
The Institute was created to address barriers to success. While Black women lead the way in business formation, only 3% of Black women business owners are running mature businesses. Research cites three key reasons — the types of businesses, limited access to capital and the uneven distribution of access to key resources needed for entrepreneurship success — as barriers to entry and catching-up of disadvantaged groups.
The new program builds on a promising statistic for Maryland’s inclusive economy: at 52%, the state has the highest rate per capita of women-business ownership in the United States.
The first year of the Open Institute for Black Women Entrepreneur Excellence is underway, starting as a pilot program in collaboration with Howard County Government, with plans to expand across the state. The program leverages the unique expertise of Maryland’s four HBCUs: Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. They will work with the cohort to determine their needs at the intersection of research, tech transfer and education.
Another major component of the program is helping cohort members collaborate as a community and build their local and statewide networks.
“We know that women-owned startups, particularly those led by Black women, face an array of challenges, including the all-important access to capital,” said Linda Singh, executive director for TEDCO’s Women Entrepreneur Leadership Programs. “Our Open Institute for Black Women Entrepreneur Excellence will give local entrepreneurs the opportunity to collaborate, grow their networks and navigate the local innovation ecosystem together. It’s a winning combination for the leaders, their companies and the state of Maryland.”