Press Release: Mountain BizWorks Announces Details of 2024 Programs Helping Underserved Entrepreneurs through $2.3M MBDA Award

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Back row L to R: Jesse Frippe – Hatch Innovation Hub Board Member, Chris Buehler- Hatch Innovation Hub Board Member, Matt Raker – Mountain BizWorks’ Executive Director, Donald R. Cravins, Jr. – Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development Agency, Amit Patel – Program Director of the Capital Readiness Program, Kareen Boncales – Mountain BizWorks’ Director of Entrepreneurship, Jeremiah Robinson – Mountain BizWorks’ Catalyst Program Director; Front row L to R: Nubia Guido – Mountain BizWorks Lender, Maui Vang – Hatch Innovation Hub Board Member, Susan Clark Muntean – Hatch Innovation Hub Board Member; Photo: Nick Levine Photography

ASHEVILLE, NC (December 4, 2023) — Mountain BizWorks has been awarded over $2.3 million from the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). 

Last week, Donald R. Cravins, Jr., Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development, attended Mountain BizWorks Year End Celebration. He acknowledged the organization’s years of entrepreneurial support in the region and, most importantly, the entrepreneurs in WNC doing the hard work of on-the-ground business development.

“The Minority Business Development Agency’s Capital Readiness Program is the largest-ever Federal investment in small business incubators and accelerators of its kind,” said Donald R. Cravins, Jr., Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development. “This historic program reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to investing with equity and will help underserved entrepreneurs tackle one of the greatest challenges they face: access to capital. Mountain BizWorks and their partners understand the unique needs and challenges facing North Carolina entrepreneurs. MBDA is grateful they are joining our network, working alongside us to help create an economy that gives every American a shot at building a successful business.”

About the visit and award, Mountain BizWorks Executive Director Matt Raker, said, “Mountain BizWorks is honored to be selected for MBDA’s Capital Readiness Program and by Under Secretary Cravins’ visit. We look forward to working with the MBDA and local partners to further enable entrepreneurs from rural areas, communities of color, and other under-resourced communities. This is a great testament to the region’s entrepreneurial spirit.” 

The MBDA award will support three core pillars for WNC entrepreneurs: capacity building, access to capital, and access to networks. At last night’s celebration event, Mountain BizWorks announced the first details about 2024 programs supported by the funding: 

  • The application for ScaleUp is now open! The eight session program, designed for existing, proven businesses who want to grow, welcomes founders to apply by February 4. The program will start March 15. 
  • The Catalyst Cohort will open applications for its next class in January 2024. This program is designed to provide peer support and leadership skills development for entrepreneurs of color at all growth stages. 
  • Program partner Hatch Innovation Hub was also highlighted, with guests learning about their upcoming Pitchmas in Hendersonville on November 5 and their ongoing weekly 1 Million Cups peer networking and learning series.

Mike Baer, Hatch Chair, shared, “We are excited to join Mountain BizWorks in bringing more entrepreneurial opportunity and support to Western North Carolina. This is a great opportunity with many entities working together to accomplish something truly special.”

Additional program partners include Olive Hill CDC, Venture Asheville, High Country Impact Fund, Impact WNC Fund, and Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation.

“Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation (EMSDC) is a long time partner with Mountain Bizworks, being intimately involved with, and knowledgeable of their intentionality regarding serving small businesses particularly those who are most often underestimated and underserved,” shared Stephanie Swepson Twitty, CEO of EMSDC CDC. “We are delighted to celebrate this milestone moment of increased support from the MBDA Award.”

For more information about the award, visit Visit for information on lending, learning, and more. 


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