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Winrock International, Walton Family Foundation announce 16-week accelerator program aimed at multicultural startups

Arkansas News Tidbits

Winrock International, Walton Family Foundation announce 16-week accelerator program aimed at multicultural startups


Winrock International recently announced the Multicultural Business Xcellerator (MBX), an initiative supported by the Walton Family Foundation aimed at promoting inclusive innovation and entrepreneur- ship in Arkansas.

MBX will target 10 companies in its first cohort – five from Arkansas and five from outside the state. Cohort members will participate in a 16-week program based in Northwest Arkansas in 2024, where MBX will help connect companies to expert mentors, capital, and new customers, facilitating accelerated growth, expansion and investment opportunities.

As the entrepreneurial landscape in Arkansas gradually diversifies, MBX said it recognizes the underrep- resentation of BIPOC entrepreneurs in the state. According to the 2021 Arkansas Capital Scan by the Uni- versity of Arkansas, the majority of seed funding both in Arkansas and nationwide has historically gone to startups and small businesses led by white males, leaving women and people of color with limited access to resources. MBX intends to bridge these gaps in funding, procurement, and mentorship, positioning Arkansas as a hub for inclusive entrepreneurial success.

MBX founder and Director Bjorn Simmons said he envisions MBX as a world-class venture development program for diverse founders, offering curated programming to drive the growth of tech-driven, multicultural businesses. “We understand the impact our vision plays in providing access to the economy, redefining scalability standards and revolutionizing our approach to inclusive innovation in Arkansas’ entrepreneurial ecosystem and beyond,” Simmons said.

The 16-week program, set to commence in 2024 in Northwest Arkansas, will connect participants with expert mentorship, coach- ing, potential sources of capital, customers, and expansion opportunities to facilitate accelerated growth. The eligibility criteria for MBX include:

  • Innovative tenacity: MBX seeks visionaries who are building transformative tech and tech-enabled companies.

  • Diversified leadership: MBX seeks companies led by women and/or under-represented founders.

  • Scalability and market acumen: MBX seeks participants primed for growth and able to demonstrate that their product

    meets a market need.

  • Resolute commitment and adaptability: MBX seeks entrepreneurs willing to commit to the program and who are eager to

    evolve and thrive.

  • “Winrock has long been committed to expanded access to business support services, entrepreneurial acceleration and financing to BIPOC and women-owned businesses,” said Winrock’s U.S. Programs Director Linsley Kinkade. “We are excited to launch MBX, and encourage multicultural entrepreneurs to explore this exciting program. Participants will access mentoring and networking opportunities, gain market visibility, and tap into other support tailored to their needs. By intentionally focusing on underrepresented businesses and founders, this project and the companies launched will have a major impact on inclusivity and diversity across the entrepreneurial landscape in Arkansas and the region.”

    Simmons is the founder of Wyzerr, an artificial intelligence business services startup. He is also the founding director of Venture Noire, an entrepreneurial support organization

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