Starting a business is always a big bet — one that is rarely, if ever, safe.

For entrepreneurs who are part of historically marginalized groups — women and people of color (POC) — the bet can be even bigger and riskier.

A local program from the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce is helping local entrepreneurs make these bets.

“Betting Big on Small Black Businesses,” is a 12-week incubator and accelerator program for startups and POC to receive access to community, education, mentorship and capital.

The program provides entrepreneurs access to mentors, advisors, community leaders and curriculum for business strategies, including a tailored business plan and individualized-business support, as well as connections with investors and partners.

The “Betting Big on Small Black Businesses” was first founded around two years ago through the Fresno DRIVE initiative, a 10-year investment plan to develop a more sustainable economy for the region’s residents.

The program was spearheaded by former Black Chamber CEO Tara Lynn Gray and pitched for the DRIVE initiative. It went online in October 2021.

Through the DRIVE initiative, JP Morgan Chase provided the Black Chamber $750,000 over three years for the “Betting Big” program.

Fresno Metro Black Chamber CEO Cassandra Little said that an important face of the program is getting entrepreneurs in front of bankers or accountants for financial literacy.

“A lot of our small business and entrepreneurs in our community do not have banking relationships for whatever reason. That puts a lot of businesses at a disadvantage for being able to access capital,” Little said.

Little said the goal is to change the narrative and instill the importance of financial relationships for business owners.

Read more at The Business Journal.