Manufacturing, Entrepreneurship, and Business Innovation (MEBI), an advanced training program designed to accelerate BIPOC leadership and innovation through team entrepreneurship in the manufacturing industry, recently came to a close. Launched in 2022, MEBI provided targeted professional development and entrepreneurial training aimed at increasing the capacity of BIPOC leadership and their career opportunities within local manufacturing firms.
The program set out to achieve 4 objectives:
- Assist local manufacturing companies to increase diversity of mid- and senior-level workers
- Support skill-building, innovation, and career growth for mid-career professionals of color
- Cultivate team innovation and intrapreneurship within industrial businesses
- Foster more inclusive and productive work environments
The MEBI program was led by technical experts, industry practitioners, and business leaders across the manufacturing and technology sectors with the support of the New York City Department of Small Business Services, the Young Men’s Initiative (YMI), MaiiC, and Vanguarde Digital LLC, a certified MBE firm with expertise in education program development, entrepreneurship training, and DEI. As a proof-of-concept MEBI was designed to both empower talented individuals from underrepresented backgrounds via entrepreneurship training, while simultaneously catalyzing new career pathways within the industry for this audience.
In total, 43 professionals were enrolled in the program, primarily from apparel, food, and machinery manufacturing sector(s). The majority (70%) identified as African American women with 7-10 years of industry experience.
Of the participants surveyed following the program:
- 100% increased confidence and business acumen.
- 90% developed comprehensive business concepts and pitch decks.
- 60% developed minimum viable products or prototypes.
- 50% pursued external funding or intend to apply to startup
- accelerators, incubators, or other programs to advance their ventures.
- 47% pursued external financing through grants, loans, angel or VC
- 32% established legal business entities.
- 3% generated revenue from current products or services during the program.
With changing demographics and increased demand for more diverse workplaces, US growth industries have sought to increase their DEI efforts with the aim of recruiting and retaining top talent. In NYC’s local manufacturing sector, despite evidence that the industry employs higher than average percentages of immigrants, non-native English speakers, and people of color, a lack of representative leadership persists. This apparent lack of diversity disconnects leadership from the realities facing most employees. Without intentional mentorship/sponsorship from representative leadership, minority employees can face invisible ceilings to advancement or face barriers securing leadership roles at their respective firms. With an internal commitment to DEI, firms can facilitate meaningful opportunities for their diverse workforce to acquire domain specific education, work experience, and/or technical skills needed to open new career opportunities. The MEBI program represents an important starting point and will help to inform ongoing efforts to build more equitable pathways for diverse talent in New York City’s technology and manufacturing ecosystems.
MaiiC will continue to build on the efforts to increase diversity in the industrial and manufacturing business sectors across the city. We encourage businesses, individuals and organizations to view the DEI webinar MaiiC hosted with DEI experts and industrial business leaders on their perspectives on what business leaders can do to facilitate action on DEI.
For further reading please see our posts on DEI.