Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced fifty winners of the SBA Growth Accelerator Fund. The SBA Growth Accelerator Fund has awarded a total of $2.5 million in prize awards to fund accelerators, with special attention to the programs supporting underrepresented groups in the small business community, including underserved areas, companies in the manufacturing sector, and businesses owned by women and people of color. The Growth Accelerator Fund competition, in its first year, attracted 800 applications from across the country, and finalists were reviewed by a panel of experts in entrepreneurship, investing and business plans from both within the government and the private sector – including two National Women’s Business Council Members: Shelly Kapoor-Collins and Dr. Teresa Nelson.

The National Women’s Business Council proudly recognizes and congratulates all of the winning accelerators that will serve more entrepreneurs across the country, and particularly those run by women and serving women entrepreneurs specifically. Congratulations to the winning women-focused accelerators: Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative in Scottsdale, Arizona; mystartupXX in La Jolla, California; The Refinery in Westport, Connecticut; and Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Startup Accelerator in Saint Louis, Missouri.

“It is with great joy that I congratulate the winners of SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, especially the recipients whose programs are supporting women-owned or women-led startups,” said NWBC Council Member Shelly Kapoor-Collins. “Accelerators play a vital role in providing start-ups with funding and operational resources to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. There is a real need for the creation of women-focused accelerators to support the rapidly growing population of women entrepreneurs.”

“The judging process was both demanding and exciting,” said NWBC Council Member Dr. Teresa Nelson. “We reviewed many great programs from around the country and we hope that the entrepreneurs in those communities, women and men, can benefit from these investments. We also applaud those accelerators run and owned by women as well as those targeting women growth ventures. This type of leadership provides best practices for all accelerators serving the public. The NWBC is a champion of accelerator programming – we recently began a new research project focused on women’s participation in accelerators to identify the factors that influence their successful graduation and growth.”

The NWBC’s recent research: High Growth Women-Owned Businesses’ Access to Capital confirmed that high-growth women entrepreneurs with previous start-up experiences had higher amounts of total financial capital to grow and scale their businesses. The NWBC recommends the establishment of women-focused accelerators to better support women as they launch new enterprises. The SBA Growth Accelerator Fund showcases successful programs and provides an opportunity for other accelerators to learn best practices.