10 Years of Nurturing Harlem Business Entrepreneurs

The Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center (SBDC) celebrated its 10th year anniversary supporting entrepreneurship in Harlem at the Lenfest Center for the Arts on July 26.

Sabina Lee
July 30, 2019

Located at the Columbia Business School, the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has supported aspiring business entrepreneurs in Harlem, providing them with free access to world-class business resources and faculty mentorship since 2009. The center is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, which was created in 1953 as an independent federal agency and supports over 900 centers across the country.

Qualified participants receive business advice and training, including intensive one-on-one counseling and access to a network of experts, mentors and alumni in all industries. Through the Harlem Local Vendors ProgramPitch Workshops & Competition and the Columbia Community Business Program, the center has helped 2,464 businesses discover economic opportunities and nurture their innovation. Ten years of empowering the community resulted in no small feat: more than $47 million have been invested in the local economy and over 2,500 jobs have been created to date.

A group of people posing for a photograph in front of a large window.

Celebrating the 10th year milestone at the newly opened Lenfest Center for the Arts in Manhattanville, many gathered to honor the spirit of Harlem entrepreneurship. Among them were Columbia Community Scholar Lil Nickelson and fellow SBDC alumna Ramona Prioleau of FraMiaTi, a natural skincare company that donates a portion of the proceeds from its sales to nonprofit organizations. This year, Prioleau's company is donating the cost of a bar of soap for each one sold, benefiting the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in New York City.

“We are so pleased to continue serving the vibrant small business community in Upper Manhattan. Columbia-Harlem SBDC is committed to offering business training and counseling to help local entrepreneurs be more profitable and create more jobs,” said Kaaryn Nailor Simmons, director of the center. Visit the Columbia-Harlem SBDC for more information about their decennial celebration, success stories and monthly events, including the Harlem Local Vendor Buyers Fair and Shop Harlem Made