National ACE, Sunstone Management Partner to Help AAPI Businesses Nationwide
Sunstone Management, Inc., and the National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (National ACE) have reached agreement to partner in a federally financed program designed to help AANHPI entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses.
The agreement comes as National ACE launches the first eight-week business accelerator training program for existing small business owners to prepare them for effectively seeking capital through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) and investors. That program began Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024.
On Aug. 3, 2023, Vice President Kamala Harris announced National ACE was one of the awardees in the MBDA (Minority Business Development Agency) Capital Readiness Program. The $2.65 million, 4-year grant aims to establish the SEDI (Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individuals) Ready to Grow program.
“We recognize the value of the Capital Readiness Program including capacity building, development, and capital opportunities for the success of the 2.9 million AAPI-owned small businesses nationwide,” said Chiling Tong, President and CEO of National ACE. “We are proud to be a key partner with MBDA, which will bolster AAPI businesses across the nation with an accelerator curriculum to expand access to capital.”
Sunstone Management supported National ACE’s application with a proposal to be the matching capital funds partner. Sunstone provided the Year One capital match Fund along with plans to secure future matching funds.
“Sunstone Management is a proud supporter of National ACE’s Capital Readiness Program, empowering AANHPI entrepreneurs and businesses to leverage the Federal government’s historic investment in small businesses through the State Small Business Credit Initiative 2.0,” said Eric Romero, Sunstone’s director of economic development. “Aligned with our mission of enriching lives through investment and economic development, this collaboration supports diverse entrepreneurs and fosters small business growth by providing tailored technical assistance and training designed to help them access capital. Sunstone’s contributions include providing a match for National ACE’s Capital Readiness Grant and leveraging partnerships to increase access to capital for program participants.”
This partnership furthers Sunstone’s focus on start-up entrepreneurs who are under-represented, according to John Keisler, CEO and managing partner at Sunstone Management.
“National ACE’s new program aligns well with our approach to helping young, underserved entrepreneurs launch and scale up their businesses,” Keisler said. “We look forward to being part of this national effort to increase business opportunities with help where help is needed most.”
Working together, ACE and Sunstone plan to help entrepreneurs apply for and secure capital from the federally funded State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). ACE has brought on two Capital Advocates specializing in connecting to SSBCI capital markets. That is only one of several resources for SEDI entrepreneurs in the new program.
ACE’s SEDI Ready to Grow program plans to establish two incubator/accelerator hubs – one on each coast – with four contracted professional business advisors and an SSBCI Capital Advocate at each hub. There also will be a communications coordinator and a contracted marketing specialist.
Key to the program will be the eight-week business accelerators based at each hub and conducted twice a year. The training will be coordinated by the National ACE entrepreneurship program arm, ACE NextGen. The first accelerator of the year will provide owners of SEDI-owned businesses with a foundation of key business principles, leaning heavily on becoming lender-ready. The second, planned for March-May, will help emerging entrepreneurs prepare for a pitch day in May.
There will be multiple networking and learning opportunities beyond the incubator/accelerator programs. National ACE will produce 20 small business in-person roundtable events each year with key elected officials and corporate leaders. And there will be a major virtual pitch day each year.
To learn more about the program, go to www.nationalace.org/capital-readiness-program.
About Sunstone Management
Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital management firm with headquarters in Southern California that provides a range of early-stage venture capital, real estate, and fixed income funds to qualified and accredited investors. The firm delivers new and exciting options for economic growth through innovative public-private partnerships, making use of its unique experience across government, education, and private sectors. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. In the second quarter of 2023, PitchBook ranked Sunstone the seventh most active early-stage venture capital firm in the country, and 18th overall.
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