Meda launches $1 million competition for minority-owned businesses

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Are you an entrepreneur of color with a good business plan? Hone your pitch and get ready for a million dollar competition that could take your business to the next level.

The “$1M Challenge For Minority Entrepreneurs” is a Shark Tank-style competition launched by Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda) in partnership with the City of St. Paul to support early-stage minority-owned businesses that have potential for high growth.

Meda, which provides business consulting, marketing and capital for minority business owners, will select up to 20 minority-owned businesses to compete in the statewide business-plan competition.

Competing businesses will give five-minute presentations to a panel of judges at a speed-pitching event hosted during Twin Cities Startup Week in October. Up to 10 finalists will then move on to an “accelerator” round, which will include approximately two months of mentorship, coaching, investor and industry feedback, exposure and professional connections.

The competition will close out in January with a final event awarding up to $1 million dollars in financing to four finalists. The $1 Million Dollar Challenge is funded in part via a $1 million grant from NEXT Fund for Innovation. NEXT Fund is a pilot program presented by Opportunity Finance Network, a Philadelphia-based association of community development institutions.

“Meda is excited to be part of this innovative program to provide sorely needed patient capital to minority-owned businesses,” said Gary Cunningham, Meda President and CEO in a press statement.

“Nationally, less than 10 percent of patient and equity capital is invested in minority-owned businesses. Meda is proud to partner with OFN and Wells Fargo to provide this funding which is necessary to fund innovation, potential and growth in minority businesses. By investing in these businesses, Meda will be helping them reach scale, increase revenues and become sustainable employers.”

The $1 Million Challenge is open to ethnic minority-owned businesses in Minnesota. Application deadline is September 12, 5 pm CST.

To apply or for more information, visit