COLUMBIA — Benedict College will seek to help more women launch and sustain businesses through its newly opened Women’s Business Center, celebrated as a crucial step in economic development.
It is only the second Women’s Business Center that is affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Administration at a historically black college or university, and the first that has a mandate to help women succeed in business across an entire state.
“We will work hard to remove those barriers that have stopped them from pursuing their dreams,” center director Cheryl Salley said Wednesday.
The center launches at a crucial time with the coronavirus pandemic hurting so many small businesses, especially in minority communities, said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza.
“I am laser-focused on small business prosperity,” Carranza said.
It took more than 18 months of work and a $420,000 federal grant under the CARES Act for pandemic relief to get the center off the ground, Benedict College President Roslyn Artis said. Artis is the first female president in the more than 150 year history of Benedict.
Women who own businesses can get help from the center on such issues as creating a business plan, improving marketing and coaching on tapping into loans or other capital, among others, she said.