Diverse Business Accelerator Offers $5k Equity-Free Funding

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  • Published on February 7, 2022
  • Last Updated February 9, 2022
  • In News

Twelve-week program boosts business acumen of diverse entrepreneurs; provides participants with support, connections and $5,000 in non-dilutive capital. Now in its fourth year, the Diverse Business Accelerator (DBA) has provided 36 portfolio companies 320 hours of programming and a total of $120,000 in funding.


Greater St. Louis, Inc.’s Diverse Business Accelerator (DBA) has opened applications for its Spring 2022 cohort and is currently accepting applications until the Tuesday, February 22, 2022 deadline. Beginning March 2 and ending May 11, the 12-week program is open to racially, ethnically and gender-diverse entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses.  

All participants who complete the program will receive a $5,000 equity-free grant. The program concludes with a Final Pitch Competition, which is a chance for participants to present their businesses to a panel of regional stakeholders for a chance to win $25,000 in equity-free capital.

“Through the Diverse Business Accelerator, Greater St. Louis, Inc. supports diverse business owners as they create sustainable, thriving businesses that are ready to add jobs to the regional economy,” said Lakesha Mathis, DBA Director in a press release.

“As an organization, we hope to invest significant resources into the continued growth, development and support of these businesses through education and capital access. That support helps turn the goals and plans of our business owners into reality.”  

Throughout the program participants will learn how to develop actionable business expansion goals, market and communicate their services, make meaningful business connections, and identify the capital and resources they need to support growth.  Diverse Business Accelerator participants participate in weekly collaborative sessions facilitated by business coaches, consultants and mentors and receive nine hours of additional one-on-one coaching.

Business owners from previous cohorts have shared that the knowledge and insights they gained through the DBA fueled their personal growth and confidence, as well as the size and revenue of their business. A recent survey of graduates found that:

  • 90% significantly increased their business knowledge on topics important to growth
  • 60% increased their revenues by more than 10%
  • 68% added an average of 3 new employees 

“I am so thankful to have been a part of Greater St. Louis, Inc.’s Diverse Business Accelerator,” said Sheila Johnson, CEO, B.T.D. Painting & Construction, and winner of the 2021 Final Pitch Competition. “The experience was like an awakening and gave me a new perspective, while the strategic planning and tactical solutions I learned will prove instrumental in scaling my business. Winning the $25,000 Pitch Competition was tremendous bonus.” 

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