Magic Johnson, who has gone from basketball star to a mega successful businessman, knows something about entrepreneurship. And recently he helped The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) reach out to entrepreneurs. ICIC teamed up with the Small Business Administration, and Bank of America to invite more than 100 growing inner city companies from around the nation to pitch their ideas to potential investors in Los Angeles.
"The L.A. event was the match-making event for our Inner City Capital Connections program (ICCC)," explains spokesperson Steven Pedigo. "ICCC is a program designed to match capital providers with inner city businesses in need of capital."
The organization has also come to the East Coast, with more events planned. "We hosted a training session for the program in New York this past year. We brought together the inner city businesses participating in the program for a comprehensive training day," says Pedigo. "During the session, inner city businesses learn about the different types of capital available. We also teach inner city CEOs how to pitch their businesses."
ICIC aims to educate investment-ready companies about growth capital, and match them with providers of capital financing. ICIC helps a variety of companies, including the technology, consumer goods, business and professional services, healthcare and manufacturing sectors.
Founded in 1994 by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter as a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1994, ICIC strives, according to its mission statement, to "leverage the existing assets in inner cities to enable them to participate in the market economy. Our mission is to promote economic prosperity in America's inner cities through business development and private sector engagement that leads to jobs, income and wealth creation for local residents. We bring together business and civic leaders to transform thinking, drive innovation and action, and accelerate inner city business growth and investment."
The organization has a series of programs, including "Recognition of Success: The Inner City 100," which provides media, marketing and business opportunities for fast-growing firms; "Access to Capital: Inner City Capital Connections," which helps inner city businesses access new sources of capital; and "Corporate Expertise from Professionals: CEO Series," a free, monthly interactive teleconference that features experienced and influential practitioners from the private sector sharing their business expertise.
Looking ahead, Pedigo says ICIC has many goals. "We selected over 100 companies to participate in the program. Since the inception of the program, ICCC companies have raised more $372 million in capital," he explains. Adding that in the current financial market, small businesses need all the assistance they can get. "Our organization is necessary to help close the capital gap for inner city businesses and raise awareness about the market opportunities in America's inner cities," says Pedigo.