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The Small Business Series


Small Business Series

The Small Business Series (SBS) will showcase outstanding, Black-owned organizations across Philadelphia that align with the Whitney M. Young pillars of equality and economic empowerment. The series will uplift and support Philadelphia's Black businesses by awarding capital and providing increased exposure and visibility in the greater Wharton ecosystem.

The Small Business Series' inaugural year will set a precedent. It will become a staple for Philadelphia’s small business community and forge the connection to Whitney M. Young’s legacy and future impact in the business world.

For any questions or concerns, please contact the SBS team at sbs@wmyconference.com.



SBS Application Period

Oct. 4, 2021 - Nov. 7, 2021 at 11:59 EST

Apply Now!

Apply Now!

Open Application Period

Oct. 4 - Oct. 31, 2021

Application Screening Process

Oct. - Nov. 2020

Top 20 Semi-finalists Announced

Late Nov. 2020

Workshop Modules for Top 20 Semi-finalists

Late Nov. - Dec. 2020

Delivery of Short Pitches by Top 20 Semi-finalists

Early January 2021

Top 10 Finalists Announced & One-on-one Office Hours with NVC Mentors

Mid Jan. - Mid Feb. 2021

Who is eligible for the Small Business Series?

To be eligible to participate in the SBS, businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • Small business (annual revenue of less than $1 million)
  • Black-owned
  • Philadelphia-based
  • 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees

Judging Criteria

Business Model

How sustainable is the business model? Is it unique and can its advantages be defended?


How large and loyal is the customer base? Has revenue grown over time?

Demonstrated Traction

Demonstrated Community Impact

How has the business engaged with and improved the Philadelphia community?


Does the team have the skills, strategy, and willingness to continue to expand the business? What are the business' future plans?

Growth Potential

The strength of an application submission will be assessed against the following four category areas:

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Selected NVC finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their new venture in front of a panel of esteemed judges and compete for a chance to win up to $175,000 in non-equity financing and other in-kind prizes to springboard their businesses

Industry Practitioners

Our Judges

Mercedes BentPartner, Lightspeed Venture Partners
Brittany DavisGeneral Partner, Backstage Capital
Erik Moore WG '96Founder & Managing Director, Base Ventures
Elliott RobinsonPartner, Bessemer Venture Partners
Jason ScottHead of US Startup Developer Ecosystem, Google
Alice VilmaManaging Director, Multicultural Client Strategy, Morgan Stanley

Selected NVC finalists will have the opportunity to connect for two one-on-one sessions with our NVC mentors to further refine their pitch and seek additional business guidance on their ventures

Industry Practitioners

Our Mentors

Kofoworola AgbajeInvestor, Quona Capital
Frederik GrocePrincipal, Storm Ventures | Co-Founder BLCK VC
B.A. SillahManaging Partner, Kola Global Advisors
Jarrid TingleManaging Partner, Harlem Capital
Brittany HenryInvestment Associate, Impact America Fund

Let's amplify our collective voice

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For inquiries and more information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact us at: funds.whartonaambaa@gmail.com

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