Social Driver is proud to announce its participation in the Next Level: Elevating Diverse Entrepreneurs accelerator program launched by the Greater Washington Partnership. The program aims to accelerate growth and investment in Black, Brown, and women-owned businesses across the region, from Baltimore to Richmond. Social Driver's co-founders, Anthony Shop (CSO) and Thomas Sanchez (CEO) are enthusiastic about the opportunity to grow Social Driver with the support of the program.
As part of the inaugural cohort of the Next Level program, Social Driver joins a select group of sixteen local entrepreneurs from various industries. These entrepreneurs were chosen for their potential to make a significant impact and will receive curated training, coaching, and tools to navigate procurement processes and raise capital. Social Driver brings its expertise in digital strategy and innovation to the program and hopes to continue to expand with the support of the accelerator.
The Next Level program, funded by a grant from the Truist Foundation, will provide customized technical assistance, coaching, and curated events to help diverse entrepreneurs acquire, fulfill, and retain contracts from the region's largest buyers. By connecting Black, Brown, and women-owned businesses with large-scale companies, this collaboration seeks to address the acute racial disparities in business ownership and survival highlighted by the Greater Washington Partnership's Inclusive Growth Dashboard.
According to the Fed Small Business Credit Survey, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing racial disparities in business ownership and success. Black-owned and Latino-owned small businesses reported significant sales declines compared to their White-owned counterparts. The Entrepreneurship Insights Brief, developed in partnership with Deloitte, also emphasizes the complex challenges faced by diverse entrepreneurs, including barriers to accessing capital, talent, markets, and networks.
The Next Level program aligns with the Greater Washington Partnership's commitment to supporting diverse-owned businesses. In 2022, Partnership organizations collectively pledged $4.7 billion over five years to support Brown, Black, and women-owned businesses and underrepresented communities. The program complements the Partnership's region-wide supplier diversity community of practice, which helps corporate leaders increase spending with diverse businesses.
Truist, a strong advocate for small business owners, especially women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color, recognizes the importance of creating pathways for their success. Evelyn Lee, Truist regional president for Greater Washington, highlights the partnership with the Greater Washington Partnership as an example of Truist's commitment to building better lives and communities.
The accelerator is a collaboration between 1863 Ventures, the Greater Washington Partnership, and the Truist Foundation will equip diverse entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to acquire and retain contracts from the region's largest and most competitive buyers.
Social Driver is honored to be among the entrepreneurial organizations in the Next Level program and excited for what lies ahead.
To learn more about the Next Level program and its impact on diverse entrepreneurs, visit greaterwashingtonpartnership.com/Next-Level.