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How to Apply

APPLY HERE for the Ascend Capital Accelerator. For Cohort 4, up to fifteen (15) local and independently minority-owned small businesses will be selected through a competitive application process. Applications will open on May 3, 2019, close on June 7, 2019, and be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please email our team at intake@wacif.org with any issues related to your application.

Program Overview

The Ascend Capital Accelerator provides underrepresented entrepreneurs with the ability to accelerate business growth, access and obtain capital, and pursue government contracting opportunities. With the goal of building human and financial assets for local small businesses, this hands-on, multi-week asset-based development program consists of an interactive workshop series combined with small group matching and wraparound individualized support. 

The Ascend Capital Accelerator 4.0 (“Ascend East”) will provide financial and management training to local small businesses located in changing East of the River neighborhoods or commercial corridors facing direct or indirect operational challenges and/or seeking assistance to pivot their business models to seize new opportunities. This hands-on, 6-week asset-based development program consists of an interactive workshop series combined with small group matching and wraparound individualized support, with the goal of building human and financial assets for local small businesses.

The overall goals of Ascend East are to: (1) help stimulate economic development in Wards 7 and 8 by supporting small businesses to strengthen their operations, (2) identify opportunities to strengthen their business model and improve economic resilience, and (3) provide affordable financing to small businesses unable to access financing from responsible and/or mainstream lenders.

Wacif will form a cohort up to 15 local small businesses located in Ward 7 or Ward 8.  The businesses will be selected through a competitive application process which will be used to screen businesses for the following criteria: (1) the business; (2) its management; (3) financial position; (4) growth plans; (5) attainment of (or ability to attain) local and/or federal certification; (6) expressed small business and/or market challenges; (7) commitment to remain in Ward 7 or 8; and, (8) ability to increase revenue and profitability.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligible applicants are businesses with at least two (2) years of operations. Businesses in operation for fewer than 2 years may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Online businesses are not eligible for the program. Applicant businesses must also:  

  • Be an independent, local, and minority-owned small business
  • Be registered and in good standing to operate a business in the District of Columbia
  • Be located in D.C. Wards 7 or 8
  • Have a physical (brick and mortar) office location
  • Be able to commit to 10-12 hours weekly for Accelerator workshops, assignments, and technical assistance meetings. 
  • Have at least $75,000 in annual sales

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

How long should applicant businesses be in operation?

Businesses should be in revenue-generating operation for at least two (2) years. Wacif may, on a case-by-case basis, consider businesses with less than the minimum years of operations.

My business has not been operational for two years. Will I be eligible for the Ascend Capital Accelerator?

Wacif may consider businesses with less than the minimum years of operations on a case-by-case basis.

My business does not have the minimum revenue requirement. Can I still apply for the  Ascend Capital Accelerator?

The Accelerator is best suited for the business with a revenue-generating track record and minimum of $75,000 in annual revenue. Wacif will also evaluate businesses on their volume of sales, net growth in sales, and/or the strength of the existing pipeline of projects.

I thought the Ascend Capital Accelerator was solely for businesses interested or actively engaged in government procurement?

No, the Ascend Capital Accelerator is not solely for businesses interested or actively engaged in government procurement. The Ascend Capital Accelerator enables local entrepreneurs to maximize their ability to grow and access and obtain capital. The focus for Cohort 4 is business models and economic resilience for local businesses in changing commercial corridors. If you are interested in learning more about the upcoming cohorts for the Ascend Capital Accelerator, have a small business advisory need, and/or have a loan capital need, we would be happy to speak with you. Please complete the Small Business Inquiry Form by selecting the “GET HELP” tab at https://wacif.org.

Does my business need to be located in Ward 7 or 8 to apply for Cohort 4 of the Ascend Capital Accelerator?

The principal office of the business must be located in Ward 7 or 8.

How many businesses will Wacif accept for this Ascend Capital Accelerator cohort?

The number of businesses participating in the program will depend on the volume and quality of the applications.  However, to ensure the maximum level of learning and engagement and to facilitate the building of the Accelerator community, the cohort size is not expected to exceed 15 businesses at this time.

How will Wacif evaluate this round of Accelerator applications?

Wacif will holistically review (1) the business; (2) its management; (3) financial position; (4) growth plans; (5) attainment of (or ability to attain) local and/or federal certification; (6) expressed small business and/or market challenges; (7) commitment to remain in Ward 7 or 8, and (8) ability to increase revenue and profitability.  Significant attention will be given to the applicant’s desire to participate in the Accelerator’s goals during the program and post-completion.

Wacif will assess prospective program participants for the scalability of their companies.  The key criteria for determining scalability is the ability of the business to increase its revenue by 50 to 75 percent within two years. A strong preference will be given to businesses located in Ward 7 or 8 Great Street corridor and/or within the one-mile 11th Street Bridge Park impact area and  demonstrates the ability or commitment to create living wage jobs and employment opportunities for District residents.