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St. Paul nonprofit helps diverse Twin Cities business owners build entrepreneurial skills

The nonprofit provides education and support to a diverse group of Twin Cities entrepreneurs, and so far, it has helped 45 early stage startups.

ST PAUL, Minn. — A Twin Cities nonprofit is working to provide support to local startups in diverse communities.

“Small businesses have long been the engine of the economy,” said Danielle Steer, executive director of Lunar Startups.

Steer listed a few alumni from the Lunar Startups' accelerator program, “Bim Bam Boo, Lip Esteem, which was on 'Small Business Revolution,  Season 6.'“

The nonprofit provides education and support to a diverse group of Twin Cities entrepreneurs.

“Entrepreneurs who identify as Black, indigenous and women start businesses at higher rates each year, but participate in startup accelerators at negligible rates,” she said.

So far, Steer says the program has helped 45 early stage startups, creating 89 new jobs.

There are three distinct programs, including a customized cohort program providing one-on-one coaching, workshops, mentorship and free legal services.

The goal, she says, is to provide equal access to resources, creating a more diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“It’s really critical tool for building community wealth,” she said.

While Steer says 2020’s racial reckoning and the pandemic shined a light on disparities across the board, the company is shining a spotlight on businesses that reflect the rich diversity of the Twin Cities community.

“Our communities have a lot of trauma and are still working on healing, as relates to what the role of entrepreneurs are in the broader economy, and were really grateful there’s renewed emphasis on systemic issues and systemic racism,” she said.

There’s still time to sign up for Cohort 5 of Lunar Startups. To learn more, visit the website here.

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