The Inclusivity Challenge: Meet the Team
What is your personal background with small businesses?
Shirley: Yes, I studied classes in business in college but my reality of operating a business surfaced much later. Not only have I worked for a local chamber for several years in assisting both small and new businesses, but I also have the awesome pleasure of having a family–owned business, too.
Whitney: I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s in Economic Development with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. I have not owned my own business, but serving small businesses first hand has been such a blessing! I also look forward to opening my own business one day!
What are the challenges from your point of view for minority small business owners in Mississippi?
Shirley: I believe that most small businesses in Mississippi are challenged with getting the necessary resources that are needed to operate a successful business such as access to capital. Quite often for some, not understanding all of the financial elements to running a successful business is an obstacle, as well.
Whitney: I believe a challenge that MS minority small businesses face is knowledge/awareness of resources that are available to them.
What are the advantages?
Shirley: The advantages are that you’re creating something of your own to help or serve others, as well as yourself, and an opportunity to do something that you really enjoy. The Inclusivity Challenge can help you get there by advising you on various stages of your concept or business. The counselors are friendly and will meet you where you are. Maybe you just want to explore ideas before you launch a business and this is a great approach to such. Having a resource such as the Inclusivity Challenge will allow you to become closer to your reality of starting a business.
Whitney: An advantage of MS minority small businesses is that they are serving and progressing their community.
What resources are available for minority business owners and / or aspiring business owners?
Shirley: Aspiring or minority business owners can obtain one-on-one counseling from a trained professional to assist with any aspect of their business such as business plans, financial knowledge and research. All information is confidential and no cost to the participating individuals.
Whitney: By becoming a client at SBDC all minority business owners and or aspiring business owners gain access to no cost one on one confidential counseling, and specialty services such as marketing, finances, cyber security, and international trade.
Why is the inclusivity challenge important to you? (On a personal level)
Shirley: This challenge is important to me because it allows me to assist those that are interested in starting a business. As a business owner, I wish I would have known of such a program that could have assisted me in the very early stages of my business.
Whitney: The inclusivity challenge is important to me because I get to help underserved Mississippians. I am honored to play a part in increasing quality of life and maintaining human capital for the state of Mississippi.