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December 04, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Twende Accelerator makes changes, opens applications for next cohort

This program has become one of Tennessee's leading solutions for growing diverse-owned businesses.

After revamping programming for its Twende Accelerator, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC) has opened the application process for the nine-month statewide program that is focused on entrepreneurs who identify as Black and Latine.

The changes to the programming include a new supplier diversity component that connects stakeholders and procurement leaders with diverse entrepreneurs across Tennessee. Enrollment for the next cohort of the Twende Accelerator ends December 30.

“There are more than 110,000 firms owned by Black & Brown founders across Tennessee,” said Brittany N. Cole, Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer of the EC. “However, these businesses tend to start smaller and stay smaller (averaging only $19,800 annually) than their peer non-minority-owned firms. We know that supplier diversity is critical for scaling Black and Brown-owned businesses and advancing economic equity. Corporations and our federal and local government have pledged billions of dollars in annual spend to diverse businesses with initiatives to only increase this spending year over year. We want to ensure our Twende founders are prepared and positioned to land these five, six, and seven-figure deals.”

In 2019, the EC launched Twende, which translates to “let’s go” in Kiswahili, as a call to action for local entrepreneurs of color to join a program with coaching, curriculum, access to capital and community that meets their unique needs. In 2021, Twende received funding from the State of Tennessee to expand statewide. To date, the program includes entrepreneurs across 12 counties in industries such as tech, consumer goods, healthcare, professional services and hospitality, and has become one of Tennessee’s leading solutions for growing diverse-owned businesses.

Twende is open to entrepreneurs who identify as a racial or ethnic minority in a U.S. context, are either the Chief Executive Officer or Co-Founder of an existing business that is scaling its operations, have up to $75,000 in annual revenue, and seek to join a supportive, collaborative community committed to transforming Tennessee’s minority-owned business landscape.

For more information and to apply, click here.

The Twende Accelerator will also hold a graduation ceremony for the current cohort from 5 to 7 p.m. CST on December 14. Details and registration can be found here.