LITTLE ROCK, Ark. ─ Winrock International is excited to introduce the Multicultural Business Xcellerator (MBX), an initiative supported by the Walton Family Foundation aimed at promoting inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship in Arkansas.
MBX will target 10 companies in its first cohort – five from Arkansas and five from outside the state. Cohort members will participate in a 16-week program based in Northwest Arkansas in 2024, where MBX will help connect companies to expert mentors, capital, and new customers, facilitating accelerated growth, expansion and investment opportunities.
As the entrepreneurial landscape in Arkansas gradually diversifies, MBX recognizes the underrepresentation of BIPOC entrepreneurs in the state. According to the 2021 Arkansas Capital Scan by the University of Arkansas, the majority of seed funding ─ both in Arkansas and nationwide ─ has historically gone to startups and small businesses led by white males, leaving women and people of color with limited access to resources. MBX intends to bridge these gaps in funding, procurement, and mentorship, positioning Arkansas as a hub for inclusive entrepreneurial success.
MBX founder and Director Bjorn Simmons envisions MBX as a world-class venture development program for diverse founders, offering curated programming to drive the growth of tech-driven, multicultural businesses. “We understand the impact our vision plays in providing access to the economy, redefining scalability standards and revolutionizing our approach to inclusive innovation in Arkansas’ entrepreneurial ecosystem and beyond,” Simmons said.
The 16-week program, set to commence in 2024 in Northwest Arkansas, will connect participants with expert mentorship, coaching, potential sources of capital, customers, and expansion opportunities to facilitate accelerated growth. The eligibility criteria for MBX include:
- Innovative tenacity: MBX seeks visionaries who are building transformative tech and tech-enabled companies.
- Diversified leadership: MBX seeks companies led by women and/or under-represented founders.
- Scalability and market acumen: MBX seeks participants primed for growth and able to demonstrate that their product meets a market need.
- Resolute commitment and adaptability: MBX seeks entrepreneurs willing to commit to the program and who are eager to evolve and thrive.
“Winrock has long been committed to expanded access to business support services, entrepreneurial acceleration and financing to BIPOC and women-owned businesses,” said Winrock’s U.S. Programs Director Linsley Kinkade. “We are excited to launch MBX, and encourage multicultural entrepreneurs to explore this exciting program. Participants will access mentoring and networking opportunities, gain market visibility, and tap into other support tailored to their needs. By intentionally focusing on underrepresented businesses and founders, this project and the companies launched will have a major impact on inclusivity and diversity across the entrepreneurial landscape in Arkansas and the region.”
MBX Director Bjorn Simmons brings a wealth of experience as the founder of Wyzerr, an artificial intelligence business services startup; the founding director of Venture Noire, an entrepreneurial support organization; and through his work with accelerators and ecosystems across the country. He is a strong advocate for the tech economy, inclusive entrepreneurship and ecosystem building.
About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation, led by three generations of the descendants of founders Sam and Helen Walton, focuses on creating opportunities for people and communities. Their work includes improving K-12 education, conserving rivers and oceans, and investing in Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. Learn more at .
About Winrock International
Winrock International is a recognized leader in U.S. and international development with a focus on social, agricultural and environmental issues. Inspired by its namesake, Winthrop Rockefeller, Winrock combines scientific and technical expertise with entrepreneurial innovation to deliver market-based solutions that improve lives around the world. Winrock’s mission is to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources across the globe.
For more information contact: B.K. Simmons at 501.475.5340 or [email protected]