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SBA Awards nearly $300,000 in PRIME Grants to help Minnesota’s Emerging Micro-entrepreneurs Access Capital

Nationally, $5 Million Granted to Fund Finance Training & Technical Assistance; Capacity Building to Provider Organizations
Release Date: 
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Release Number: 
Sarah Swenty, 612-370-2316,

MINNEAPOLIS – The African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) and the Metropolitan Economic Development Center (Meda) are set to receive nearly $300,000 in grant funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME).

“The SBA is here to help entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, and create jobs. It’s a big job and we definitely cannot do it alone,” explained Nancy Libersky, the SBA’s Minnesota district director. “We’re excited to have two national PRIME grants go to local non-profits who offer training and technical assistance to disadvantaged micro-entrepreneurs in our great state.”

SBA’s PRIME helps low-income entrepreneurs gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses. Including AEDS and Meda, this year’s 34 recipients in 24 states and the District of Columbia will receive grants ranging from $55,000 to $250,000, totaling $5 million. Overall, 147 organizations applied for PRIME awards in 2017.

With its $150,000 grant, AEDS will launch its business entrepreneurship program, The Determined Entrepreneur Initiative. With this funding, 220 entrepreneurs will receive training, technical assistance, and access to small business loan capital over the course of the one-year grant period.

“This SBA PRIME funding will allow AEDS to effectively address the needs of aspiring and existing African immigrant entrepreneurs so as to turn their creative ideas into new business and growth,” said Gene Gelgelu, executive director, AEDS. “Moreover, the funding will help build more capacity and take AEDS into a new and higher platform and enable it to play a key role in the business development industry.”

With its PRIME award of $149,644, Meda will provide services to Minnesota’s minority micro-entrepreneurs by aligning their services to serve more minority entrepreneurs throughout the entire business lifecycle through increased service offerings and strategic partnerships. Meda will also begin developing an online, single point of entry into the minority business development ecosystem.

“The technical assistance funded by the SBA is crucial to the long-term viability and success of minority-owned businesses in Minnesota,” said Gary Cunningham, president and CEO, Meda. “By leveraging our partnerships across the business lifecycle and technology, Meda will help minority entrepreneurs receive the trusted guidance, capital and access to markets needed to build sustainable businesses, grow their workforces and maximize their contribution to the state economy.”

“The SBA has been a steadfast partner as Meda works towards it vision of thriving communities through equal economic participation and we look forward to continuing this partnership in the coming years,” Cunningham continued.

The SBA placed special emphasis this year on projects that will offer training and technical assistance to strengthen cooperative forms of business, particularly those serving economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs. It also focused on the SBA’s Community Advantage program, which provides mission-oriented, non-profit lenders access to SBA’s 7(a) loan guarantees to help small businesses that have outgrown microlending but cannot access more traditional financing, including funding from SBA commercial lending partners. Six organizations received funding to specifically target cooperative small businesses and eight Community Advantage lenders were selected for PRIME awards.

PRIME was created by Congress as part of the Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs Act of 1999. The grants typically require at least 50 percent in matching funds or in-kind contributions. Funds become available September 30 and the grant is for one year. For more information on PRIME grants and this year’s grantees, visit


The U.S. Small Business Administration was created in 1953 and since January 13, 2012, has served as a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.