WASHINGTON – Senator Kerry introduced a bill today to assist aspiring and existing Minority entrepreneurs in achieving success in the marketplace.

“Minority entrepreneurs are underrepresented at the helm of America’s small businesses, which means that they are not accessing the opportunities, the financial stability, and the sense of pride that business ownership can offer,” said Kerry, who serves as Ranking Member of the Senate’s Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “By investing in Minority entrepreneurship, we can ensure that these hard working Americans have every opportunity to pursue the American dream of owning a successful business.”

African Americans represent 12.3 percent of the population but only 4 percent of all U.S. businesses. Hispanic Americans represent 12.5 percent of the U.S. population but just 6 percent of all U.S. businesses. Kerry’s bill would create an Office of Minority Small Business Development at the Small Business Administration to increase lending and contracting opportunities for minority small businesses. The head of this new office will work with SBA’s partners, trade associations and business groups to identify more effective ways to market to minority business owners.

The bill also establishes a grant program at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and at Hispanic Serving Institutions to steer students toward entrepreneurship as a career option. “To get at the heart of the racial disparity in entrepreneurship, we’ve got to excite these kids about owning a business,” said Kerry. “This program targets high achievers at these institutions, giving them the skills, knowledge and desire to succeed in business.”

The bill also creates the Minority Access to Information Distance Learning Pilot Program to create distance learning programs for small business owners interested in contracting with the federal government.

Finally, Kerry’s proposal reauthorizes the Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Business Program, which provides a Price Evaluation Adjustment for Socially and Economically Disadvantaged businesses as a way of increasing their competitiveness when bidding against larger firms.