Cultivating Mobile's Minority Business Ecosystem
Posted on June 10, 2021 by MCOB Outreach
Troy Ephraim knows his business, but he didn’t know business development. “I knew I had the desire to build a company,” he said, “but hadn’t had the opportunity.”
That came when he finished a four-year term as mayor of Prichard, a town north of Mobile. He took his part-time company, Ephraim and Associates Environmental Consulting LLC, full-time, and he also enrolled in the University of South Alabama’s Minority Business Accelerator, an initiative that includes the Mitchell College of Business’s Melton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“The value of the program helped me realize it’s not enough to say, ‘I just want to do this and make money,’” said Ephraim. Instead, the program coaches business fundamentals and helps participants recognize next steps – “If you really want to know how to grow yourself into something productive, ‘This is how you do it.’”
Since its inception in 2017, the nine-week Minority Business Accelerator has enrolled 15 participants. The entrepreneurial training series culminates in a pitch competition in which the winner receives a $10,000 stipend to seed the growth of his or her business.
Ephraim was the pitch winner in his cohort and used the money for insurance needs which “allowed us to gain our first federal contract.” Since then, Ephraim’s business has expanded to a more permanent location with new hires.
“The Minority Business Accelerator program helped me to enhance my business plan by being able to identify the problems of my clients and strategize a means of adding value through solving their problems,” he said. “I think this program supports minority businesses best by showing them how to become innovators, which is a real game-changer.”
The Minority Business Accelerator is a joint effort between the Melton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Mitchell College of Business, USA Office of Research and Economic Development, USA Small Business Development Center, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Innovation Portal and City of Mobile. It is sponsored by PNC Bank.
The program runs annually from August through October. For more information, visit the Melton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
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