Directly aligned with the STL 2030 Jobs Plan priority to create a world-class ecosystem for small businesses and entrepreneurs, the Diverse Business Accelerator is for ethnically, racially, and gender-diverse business owners looking to advance their enterprise’s capacity to grow. In the span of three months, program participants will learn how to develop actionable business expansion goals, market, and communicate their services, make meaningful business connections, and identify the capital and resources required to support growth.

Curriculum Focus

The DBA program features a strategic curriculum facilitated by business coaches, professional services consultants (accounting, legal and brand marketing experts) and mentors. Within a welcoming and stimulating environment, participants will build a growth plan for their business by focusing on four essential areas:

Marketing to Win

Participants will learn to communicate their business’s value proposition more effectively through customer-focused messages and selling strategies that attract profitable new business.

Building a Network

Participants will be matched with corporate mentors to establish a supportive professional advisory network essential to successful business growth.

Balancing Competing Interests

Participants will gain practical strategies for prioritizing how time and resources are managed to achieve desired outcomes and wisdom to address the inherent conflicts that arise as a business grows.

Financing and Scaling for Growth

Participants will learn how to attract capital and secure funding to support their growth plan and how to implement and improve processes required to scale their operation.

Program Impact, Time Frame, and Final Pitch

The DBA includes 12 weeks of group sessions and nine hours of additional one-on-one coaching. The program concludes with the Final Pitch Competition, when participants present their businesses to a panel of regional stakeholders for a chance to win $25,000 in equity-free capital to invest in their business growth plan. Read about eligibility requirements (PDF).

Business owners from previous cohorts have shared that the knowledge and insights they gained through the DBA fueled their personal growth and confidence, as well as the size and revenue of their business. A recent survey of 15 recent graduates summarizes some of the measurable outcomes many have achieved: 90% report a significant increase in business knowledge; 66% report revenue increases of 10% or more; and 71% have added jobs since program completion, with 60% adding an average of 3 jobs.


    Jobs added

    DBA portfolio companies added 90 jobs to the economy between 2019 - 2021.


    DBA grads increase knowledge

    Nearly all DBA graduates report an increase in their business knowledge after completing the program.


    DBA grads increase revenue

    DBA graduates have seen increased revenue after their program participation.

    Candidate Profile

    • Diverse and women-owned small businesses in the St. Louis region; Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and other people of color (but not exclusively)
    • Industries: professional services, construction, logistics, and manufacturing (but not exclusively)
    • 2 or more employees
    • Committed to full participation in the program


    • A business growth plan that demonstrates the business’s capacity to scale (increase revenue, hire employees) within 2 to 5 years
    • 51% minority ownership
    • Headquartered in the 15-county, bi-state St. Louis MSA

    I’ve tripled my monthly revenue since completing DBA using the tools, resources, strategies and support I received through the program.