It has never been a “walk in the park” for small businesses to grow from the ground up. However, despite the amount of work an entrepreneur invests into their business, without sufficient financial backing often unfortunately their efforts amount to nothing. Capital is one of the most evasive yet vital resources to attain for any small business start-up. With a steady monetary foundation, an entrepreneur can finance and cover necessary and early expenses, required to make the business grow and become sustainable. Unfortunately, minority groups are faced with additional obstacles in gaining capital for their start-ups. Thankfully, there are many organizations equipped to assist minority start-ups with this type of initial investment, so that they can find a strong leg to stand on.
National Science Foundation, (NSF)
The National Science Foundation seeks to help a variety of small businesses especially in the fields of medicine, engineering, and science. Since 1977, they have been helping start-ups find their own funding on the market and while helping entrepreneurs develop their ideas into even greater endeavours. NSF has funded around 400 companies from all 50 states and territories in the United States between 2007 and 2016. In past years, NSF has invested up to $1.5 million, while requesting no equity in return.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, (NASA)
NASA thrives on technological advancements, hence their willingness to fund innovative tech start-ups. NASA typically funds start-ups if they are comprised of 500 employees or less, or the enterprise is a research laboratory with connections to a small business company (SBC). Companies that are competitive for NASA funding classically fall into either the SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) category and/or the STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) category. These special program categories can assist with gaining access to the capital needed to take small business innovations to a bigger stage. NASA’s SBIR and STTR programs function in three phases:
1. the opportunity to propose the innovation,
2. the development of the innovation,
3. the commercialization of the innovative technologies.
National Institutes of Health, (NIH)
The NIH provides funding to research and development start-ups that are involved in biomedical technologies. Over $1 billion is invested in companies that share similar visions with NIH as they seek innovation that improves the health and quality of life of people worldwide. By providing the capital required by these start-ups, NIH can assist in federal research which will then be suitable for commercialization. These small businesses are very important to various health institutions, as it facilitates the opportunity to create revolutionary technologies which could lead to the advancement of society.
Department of Homeland Security, (DHS)
DHS provides capital to small businesses that are concerned with programs that will improve homeland security. This includes cybersecurity, biological defense, border and maritime security, and explosives. The DHS SBIR program was developed in 2004 and it helps with projects that have the potential offer major contributions to the field of homeland security, and which DHS could acquire and utilize later on, once more fully developed.
These organizations are very important to start-ups in general and specifically minority start-ups which many times don’t have an alternative source of funding to advance their new business. However, with the right funding, minority start-ups can not only showcase their inventions and technologies but also make valuable contributions to society.