Miami-Dade Business Navigator – Key Mentoring for Small Entrepreneurs

By: Diana Bello Aristizábal

Para leer en Español 

 

Starting a venture is a fascinating and challenging path because to be successful, you first need to have the right information and resources. Precisely with the aim of providing a support space on this front, was created the Miami-Dade Business Navigator Program. Its goal is to help socially and economically disadvantaged companies with consulting, mentoring, and training.

This program is partially funded by a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and was established under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 through a $100 million grant which benefited 51 organizations, including the Florida SBDC (Small Business Development Center) of FIU.

The FIU SBDC, in charge of this initiative, brought together six organizations from the Miami-Dade community to provide comprehensive and totally free of charge mentoring to small businesses looking to assist them in their economic prosperity, especially those owned by veterans, women as well as underrepresented individuals.

This was possible due to the fact that, as part of the total $100 million grant, the coalition of partners that made up this program secured $2.5 to support Miami-Dade County businesses in three languages: Spanish, English, and Creole.

Jesus Padilla

“We formed a collaborative ecosystem to break down the barriers that entrepreneurs encounter when building their businesses. Through our allies, they will learn important topics such as how to access capital, reach new markets, make a business plan or make government contracts,” explains Jesús Padilla, Manager of Administrative Services at FIU.

According to Jesús, the value of programs like this one is that the path of entrepreneurship can often feel lonely because different needs arise on a daily basis, and people sometimes are unaware of where to look, who to turn to or how to solve emerging problems, which is why some companies end up failing.

“With this, we go to business people instead of them having to meet us, and in this way, not only do they grow, but there is also an economic impact on the Miami-Dade community because new jobs are created, sales are increased, and there are expansion to new markets and locations. It’s a win-win for everyone,” he adds.

The Miami area offers the perfect setting for its cultural diversity and closeness to the Hispanic community. In addition, this is a good time to do business since many companies, after the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, have managed to take flight and find new ways to prosper.

Entrepreneurs who are part of this initiative, which has already been made up of more than 600, have a monthly business resource fair across different locations in the county, approximately five weekly workshops with relevant and updated information (so far there have been 50), informative sessions and personalized consulting sessions.

“We ask each one of the companies we support what are their needs, the main challenges they find to start and maintain a business, and their goals for next year without language barriers because we can assist them in any of the three languages ??of the county,” says Jesús Padilla.

The program began at the end of 2021 and will be active until November 2023. Those who wish to be part of it must register on the website www.miamibusinessnavigator.com where they will be asked in which areas they are requiring assistance. Subsequently, participants are assigned a consultant with whom they will design an action plan.

“The positive thing about all this is that even after the program ends, beneficiaries will establish business relationships with our allied organizations and will be able to continue the conversation afterwards,” Jesús Padilla concludes.

For more information, call (305) 779-9232 or send an email to navigators@fiu.edu

 

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