Tuesday, Oct. 17, the Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprises program held their launching event at the Historic Studio Museum in Harlem. The MWBE program educates and mentors minorities and women by providing entrepreneurship opportunities and financial literacy workshops. The MWBE Accelerator is a digital interaction key that improves communication among MWBEs and buyers. Buyers who are interested in joining the Accelerator program must complete a free registration form on the MWBE website. Once buyers are official members of the MWBE Accelerator, they can create and publish bid opportunities, have access to NYC and NYS certified MWBEs and much more. The Accelerator also provides financial assistance that includes general bookkeeping, billing, accounts receivables and customer service assistance.

“HCC’s partnership with Better Local Business Agency and Citi Community Development demonstrates the power of collaboration and highlights our commitment to inclusive economic growth for women and entrepreneurs of color,” said Kelvin Collins, president and CEO of Harlem Commonwealth Council.

Collins has served as the HCC president for the past two years. Previously, he worked in city government as an assistant commissioner in both the de Blasio and the Bloomberg administrations. In that position, he developed strategies for entrepreneurship opportunities across the city. He was recruited by HCC to run the organization.

“The Harlem Commonwealth Council cares about the community,” said Collins. “We have a responsibility as an organization to make sure we are developing programs and have useful resources that are beneficial to our communities. As the president, my key responsibility is to understand and find solutions to the new challenges of our community residents face. Our communities are sometimes not exclusive when it comes to entrepreneurship opportunities, so we are dedicated to provide economic development within our neighborhood.”

Since its establishment in the 1960s, the Harlem Commonwealth Council has provided entrepreneurship and educational services in African-American communities. The nonprofit organization has expanded its services throughout communities in Upper Manhattan, Washington Heights and the Bronx.

Citi Community Development is a founding partner of this new program. CCD supports initiatives that foster the growth of small businesses, particularly minority- and women-owned businesses, which create asset-building opportunities and much-needed jobs in underserved communities. “This innovative MWBE Accelerator will not only connect local MWBEs with new opportunities, but also provide a technology solution and training to manage projects,” said Eileen Auld, New York tristate director for Citi Community Development.

“Our partnership with HCC, I believe, will result in better performing MWBEs that are participating effectively, winning more contract awards and performing better on service delivery,” said Mark Hayles, managing director of the Better Local Business Agency. The Better Local Business Agency empowers and mentors small local businesses. The BLBA uses integrated technology to connect businesses to project management services, customer management services, procurement services, technology services, document management services, accounting services and tax services.

Radio personality on WBLS-FM and Sirius/ XM’s “The Heat,” Déjà vu Parker, moderated the panel discussion among MWBE stakeholders. Parker is also the founder of The Flava Unit, a nonprofit organization that allows teenagers to complete community service projects. Among the crowd were government officials, various community organizations, MWBEs and financial institutions.

“The launching event was a huge success!” said Collins. “It was a well-attended event with anticipating entrepreneurs who were eager to learn about the opportunities our program provides. Just an hour after the event, I received numerous emails and calls from attendees saying how much they enjoyed the launching event.”

The MWBE Accelerator is located at the Harlem Commonwealth Council building, 361 W. 125th St., New York, N.Y. For more information, go to www.harlemcommonwealth.org.