Black History Month and Beyond: Supporting Black-Owned Small Business Success in the First State

Michelle Harris
Michelle Harris (Photo Courtesy of SBA)

BY: SBA Delaware District Director Michelle Harris

Black History Month celebrates Black accomplishment in every arena. When President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, he reflected upon it as a time “to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor.”

And so, this Black History Month, SBA Delaware joins with the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce and the SBA-funded Delaware Small Business Development Center’s Community Navigator Program to celebrate Black-owned small business success here in the First State with three panel-discussion-centered Black History Month events – one to be held in each of Delaware’s three counties. Each event will bring into sharp focus Black-owned small businesses’ resilience, fortitude, and future-facing resolve, as well as the small business-building resources that can help secure success. Registration for these free-of-charge events is open to the public. Delaware small businesses, community stakeholders, and all other small business supporters are invited to join to hear from the panels and participate in networking. For more information on these events and to register to attend, visit:

Sussex County, Del. Event:

New Castle County, Del. Event:

Kent County, Del. Event:

The Delaware SBDC Community Navigator is just one SBA-backed resource that Black-owned small businesses here in Delaware can look to for support. The SBA stands ready to help with:

Local Support: SBA-backed local ‘resource partner’ organizations – Delaware SCORE, the Delaware Small Business Development Center, the Women’s Business Center at TrueAccess Capital and the Veterans Business Outreach Center provide small business workshops and training opportunities, ongoing mentorship, answers to one-time business questions, and more.

And, here in Delaware, the Delaware SBDC has been named a Navigator organization in the SBA-funded ‘Community Navigator’ program. In that role, the Delaware SBDC works with community-tied organizations to connect business building resources with Delaware’s underserved entrepreneurs, especially people of color, individuals with disabilities, and business owners in rural and low-income communities.

Access to Capital: Small business success so often starts with funding. That’s why so many small businesses use SBA-backed loans for start-up, working capital and growth-stage financing. SBA also offers grant programs for businesses in specialized fields — Small Business and Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Technology Transfer (STTR).

Contracting Opportunities: Now is a tremendous time for small businesses to consider making selling to the federal government part of their growth strategy. President Biden issued a Day One Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities, instructing agencies to ensure that federal contracting and procurement opportunities be made more readily available to all eligible vendors and to remove barriers faced by underserved individuals and communities. And, significantly, President Biden announced a goal of increasing the share of contracts awarded to small disadvantaged business by 50% by Fiscal Year 2025. SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, for example, is geared toward small disadvantaged businesses — a group that the federal government currently aims to set aside 12% of contracting dollars spent stateside for annually. Additional contracting assistance programs also help small businesses win federal contracts through mentorship and exclusive contracting opportunities.

Learning Platform: SBA’s online learning programs allow entrepreneurs to independently access learning tools for every business stage, from plan to launch to growth. And, geared especially for female entrepreneurs is SBA’s online Ascent learning platform providing e-learning resources on a variety of topics.

Today, small business stands at a unique time in history, as we look to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. And we know that COVID-19 significantly impacted Black-owned businesses. So, this Black History Month, I urge all Delawareans to support Black-owned small businesses at every opportunity and to visit for information about SBA programs and services.