The Citi Foundation Awards $500K to The Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE)

By: Sharjeel Sohaib


Oct 9, 2021


The Citi Foundation Awards $500K to The Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE)

The Citi Foundation has awarded $500K to The Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) of California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), to help local Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs and small businesses.

$25 Million Small Business Technical Assistance

The grant that CSUSB got from The Citi Foundation is part of the $25M funding provided to over 50 organizations.

β€œBIPOC small businesses and entrepreneurs are vital to our local economy, and they have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mike Stull, Director of the IECE.

β€œBefore the pandemic, the number of new Black-owned and Hispanic-owned businesses grew more rapidly than the overall business growth rate. New and early-stage businesses face numerous challenges, and the pandemic has compounded those challenges. The timing of the Citi Foundation award comes as a critical time as the economy is opening up, and businesses are rebuilding and responding to new market opportunities,” said stull.

IECE Provides Pivotal Support to Small Businesses 

The IECE is vital in supporting small businesses in the Inland Empire region. Programs conceived and managed by IECE’s support include:

  • Small Business Development Center

The Inland Empire Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides extensive, one-on-one, long-term professional business advising, low-cost training, and other specialized services. 

It also provides specialized assistance in QuickBooks, franchise and service-based operations, government contracting, website search engine optimization, and securing funding from traditional and nontraditional sources.

Women’s Business Centers

The WBC is a cooperative program between the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) and the US Small Business Administration (SBA), and is partially funded by the SBA.

  • California State Trade Expansion Programs

IECE at CSUSB serves as the STEP partner for Inland Southern California and coordinates the six (6) statewide partners.

The California State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) assists small businesses, in the beginning, to export and helps companies expand by exporting into new markets. It also supports qualified small businesses to participate in International trade shows, trade missions, and other export promotion activities.

β€œThe Citi Foundation is proud to be supporting IECE and other change agents with the unrestricted, flexible funding they need to deliver specialized support to more minority-owned small businesses in their communities .”

Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation

10,000 small businesses Get Supported by CSUSB 

CSUSB plays its part in supporting 10k+ small businesses, and IECE has served as its implementation arm for entrepreneurial support to local businesses.

Dr. Mike Stull is the center’s Director. Mike has more than 30 years of entrepreneurial and business experience in avionics manufacturing, business consulting, and economic development. 

Dr. Stull has done a thorough job of taking a philosophy he calls ‘Think Like An Owner!β„’’ to drive the Entrepreneurship program. He explains IECE and CSUSB’s entrepreneurship programs in the following words:

The core purpose in all of our education programs is to foster an entrepreneurial mindset and develop creative, innovative individuals who can identify local and global problems and create innovative solutions. We strongly believe that entrepreneurial approaches can be applied in any context (e.g., arts, public sector, healthcare, social movements) to produce new ideas, innovation and efficiency. 

Dr. Michael Stull | Director Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE)

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  • Avatar Of Sharjeel

    Sharjeel joined Startempire Wire as emerging technologies editor. Earlier, he worked at Silicon Canals, a leading English language technology media source for the Benelux and wider Europe. He covered the European technology and startup ecosystem digging into latest funding rounds of startups.


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