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Cooperative Agreements to USA Nonprofits, For-Profits, and IHEs to Help Disadvantaged Entrepreneurs with Business Development

MBDA Capital Readiness Program Grant Competition

GrantWatch ID# 207221
Agency: Federal

Funding Source
U.S. Department of Commerce - Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
CFDA Number: 11.802
Funding or PIN Number: MBDA-OBD-2023-2007775
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Geographic Focus

Important Dates
LOI Date: 01/31/23
Deadline: 02/28/23 11:59 PM EST Save

Grant Description
Cooperative agreements to USA nonprofit organizations, private sector entities (including for-profits), and IHEs to assist disadvantaged entrepreneurs in business development. Applicants are advised that required registrations may take several weeks to complete. Successful applicants will help socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses and entrepreneurs in launching new businesses or expanding existing businesses. Funding will support activities that help entrepreneurs build capacity, provide them with access to capital opportunities and networks, and offer training and technical assistance.

The MBDA Capital Readiness Program seeks applicants who will help close the gaps in entrepreneurial opportunities for socially and economically disadvantaged individual (SEDI) entrepreneurs and help unleash a new era of business growth, hiring, and wealth. This notice requests applications from qualified organizations that have the expertise to provide technical assistance for entrepreneurs starting or scaling their businesses who are seeking various forms of capital. 

The competition seeks applicants and proposals that will design and offer activities or services that address 3 core program pillars - Capacity Building, Access to Capital, and Access to Networks. The proposed activities may resemble the service models of incubators (focusing on early-stage technical assistance for new entrepreneurs) or accelerators (providing emerging-stage technical assistance to businesses ready to expand or scale), or provide a combination of both service models. Given the widespread need for support for early-stage services for entrepreneurs, MBDA encourages applicants to include services for new entrepreneurs and/or businesses in the early stages of the business lifecycle as part of its offerings. 

Applicants must demonstrate a plan to drive SEDI participation in their program and target the needs of one or more subgroups within the definition of SEDI.

This Program aims to fund applicants who provide SEDI entrepreneurs with the resources and technical assistance necessary to launch and scale investable businesses that may successfully access capital through SSBCI, other government programs, or other sources of capital. (For this Program, “Capital” is defined as equity investments, debt, or grants.) MBDA expects participants in technical assistance funded by this Program to be SEDI owned businesses that are applying, have previously applied, or plan to apply to an SSBCI capital program or other government program that supports small businesses.

For information about funded services, see p. 10 of the NOFO listed in Supporting Documents below.


  • Others (see text field entitled "Additional Eligibility Criteria" for clarification)

Additional Eligibility Criteria
Eligible applicants are limited to:
• Non-profit organizations,
• Private sector entities (defined as entities that are not public sector entities). This includes, for example, for-profit entities of any type, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability
companies, and corporations, but does not include public sector entities such as Federal, State, Local, or Tribal Governments, agencies, or any of their instrumentalities,
• Institutions of higher education, and
• A consortium of two or more of any of the abovementioned eligible applicants.

This Program will provide funding to incubators, accelerators, and other eligible organizations across the country with expertise to support underserved entrepreneurs. The Program is intended to serve entrepreneurs and businesses that are applying, have applied, or plan to apply to Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) or other government programs that support small businesses.

Requests from individuals will not be considered for funding.

Not funded:
- Construction
- Equity Investments & Loans

Pre-Proposal Conference
MBDA has planned a series of webinars on January 10th, 17th, and 24th from 2:00 – 3:00 pm EST intended to help potential applicants understand the program requirements and application processes. Participants will have an opportunity to participate in a live chat and ask questions. Participants should register at least 24 hours in advance of the webinars.

- Program Priorities: Tuesday, January 10, 2023, 2:00 PM EST
During this webinar, MBDA will provide general competition and funding opportunity information related to the Capital Readiness Program. MBDA will also discuss competition key dates and logistics.

- Application Review Criteria: Tuesday, January 17, 2023, 2:00 PM EST
During this webinar, MBDA will provide an overview of the application review criteria that will be used to score applications for funding under the Capital Readiness Program.

- Budget Best Practices and Pitfalls: Wednesday, January 25, 2023, 2:00 PM EST
MBDA will highlight best practices and pitfalls to avoid when developing the Capital Readiness Program budget and workplan.

For further information and to register:

Pre-Application Information
Application Deadline: February 28th, 2023 11:59 PM EST Applications received after this deadline will not be reviewed or considered.

Optional Letter of Intent:
Email of Intent Deadline: Due January 31, 2023, by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit an email of intent to apply. Please note that submission of an Email of Intent is completely voluntary. The information contained in the Email of Intent also does not limit the geographic location or target beneficiaries the applicant may choose to include in its application. Emails of Intent simply provide information to help MBDA prepare for the application review process.

Successful applicants should expect to receive grant award notification approximately 90-120 days following the application deadline set forth in this NOFO.

Applications will only be accepted electronically through ( Applicants are advised to register for a username and password and apply for a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number in as soon as possible, as the process can take multiple weeks and both are required to apply.

Applicants may send questions to MBDA via email. Questions received after February 25, 2023 may not be answered prior to the application deadline. MBDA will post responses to questions in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on its website to respond to questions. The FAQ will be updated regularly throughout the application period.

Applicants who have not historically served SEDI populations must demonstrate a commitment from at least one SEDI-serving organization (such as a community-based organization or a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), Tribal College or University (TCU) or minority-serving institution (MSI)) minority-serving institution (MSI)) to work with the applicant to increase the proposed activities’ ability to effectively serve SEDI groups and effectively target SEDI needs. For each commitment by a SEDI-serving organization, the applicant must provide a letter of commitment from the SEDI-serving organization signed by an official authorized to bind that institution.

Each eligible applicant shall provide a non-Federal match ranging from 10% to 25% depending on the award amount. For a chart detailing required shares, see p. 14 of the NOFO listed below in Supporting Documents.

Awardees will be required to attend a post-award virtual conference (webinar) conducted by MBDA to ensure that awardees have a clear understanding of the project award, terms, conditions, and expectations.

View the opportunity on
For related documents, press Package tab (click Preview) on the page above.


View webinars:,

Additional Funding Information

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants

Estimated Size of Grant
Eligible applicants may request up to $750,000 in the first year and a maximum of $3,000,000 over a four-year period of performance.

Term of Contract
MBDA plans to fund proposals for over four years per grantee, from July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2027, as follows:
- Year 1 FY23: 12 months from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024
- Year 2 FY24: 12 months from July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2025
- Year 3 FY25: 12 months from July 1, 2025 to June 30, 2026
- Year 4 FY26: 12 months from July 1, 2026 to June 30, 2027

Contact Information
To submit a letter of intent (voluntary):
- Complete and submit the online LOI form at; OR
- Submit by email to


Applicants should send all questions to MBDA via email at

For technical assistance, please contact: Contact Center

Minority Business Development Agency
1401 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20230

RFP & Supporting Documents
Full Grant Text RFP

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates / changes / addendums / conferences / LOIs.

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