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Business Empowerment as a Catalyst for Change!

The Cedar Valley Black Business & Entrepreneurship Accelerator aims to provide critical and intensive financial and sustainability support to accelerate growth and development for new and existing minority owned businesses in the Cedar Valley. We believe in taking action with urgency in order to reduce barriers and raise public awareness about the most pressing issues facing the minority owned business community.  We offer a free, six-month intensive accelerator designed to provide financial aid, business resilience, mentorship and scale strategies for minority owned businesses.



Entrepreneurs and small businesses have unquestionably been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of all vulnerable small businesses, minority-owned ones may be most at risk. According to research, Black-owned businesses have experienced the largest losses from February to April, losing 41% of active business owners. Also disappearing are 32% of Latino business owners, 36% of immigrant business owners, and 25% of female-owned businesses. Many were in financially precarious positions prior to COVID-19 due to underlying structural challenges and are also often in industries that are directly combating the
virus or are most impacted by social distancing measures. 

A recent poll also shows that
minority-owned businesses have added more services to support their communities and employees during this time compared to average small businesses. Minority-owned businesses serve at the center of the COVID-19 economic fallout as well as on the frontlines for supporting their communities through this crisis, yet access to resources and entrepreneurial opportunities for these businesses have been limited and short in supply.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the many challenges of minority-owned small businesses. Historically disadvantaged populations find that even if they have a high functioning business, they are now facing the threat of closure. While the government has offered assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, experts predict that up to 90% of minority and women small businesses owners have been, or are likely to be, denied a PPP loan. One obstacle in obtaining a PPP loan is that financial institutions favor existing customers they already have a credit relationship with, leaving out many minority-owned businesses that may not have a bank loan. Data shows that in 2018 large banks approved of 60% of loans by white business owners, compared to 29% of loans by black business owners.

Investing in entrepreneurs and minority-owned businesses in Waterloo during this crisis will strengthen our community, grow the local economy, reduce inequities while fostering job creation.

The Cedar Valley Black Business & Entrepreneurship Accelerator is a Community Educational Outreach Inc. and the 24/7 Black Leadership Advancement Consortium initiative.  Additionally, the Center for Business Growth and Innovation at the University of Northern Iowa, Red Cedar and Iowa C.O.R.E. serve as founding task force members with strong support from Grow Cedar Valley, the City of Waterloo and the Waterloo School District.



Accelerators, which are designed to address the networking, education and capital challenges that minority entrepreneurs face, are a promising strategy to address the unique financial issues faced by business owners and aspiring businesses in times of crisis. These programs provide resources, networking and funding opportunities, and professional consultation that increase the chance of survival for new or existing businesses.

As of September 2020 we launched our first cohort of business owners to address immediate needs and provide access to innovative growth strategies and resources with business coaches, mentors and financial support .

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Our program is designed to increase both mentor/coaches and peer to peer collaborative relationships to create long-term sustainable networks of influence and support for our participants.

Young Business Woman


We provide cutting edge entrepreneurship curriculum and seminars from experts who have worked in a variety of industries and have proven track records of success to increase a competitive edge in your respective industry. We understand the importance of the business "pivot" and have virtual options available to meet participants' needs.


"It's not about ideas, it's about making ideas happen."

- Scott Belsky




Artist in Workshop
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