Resources for Diverse Entrepreneurs and Under-represented Business Owners

Maine recognizes the importance of diversity in our business community. Immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and diverse perspectives of all kinds strengthen our economy and society and are a key part of our collective future.

As confirmed by a 2018 Boston Consulting Group study, companies with diverse leadership teams are 70% more innovative than companies with below average diversity in leadership.1 Promoting innovation is a key pillar of Maine’s Strategic Economic Plan, and in support of this, the State is making an historic investment in entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds through its use of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding as proposed in the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan and approved by the Maine legislature in July 2021. As information becomes available on our grant programs, it will be posted to the Maine Economic Recovery Grants webpage.

This page has some resources to help you start or continue your business journey. If you have questions or want to know more about any of our programs, please reach out to the Office of Business Development [link to Contact Us page]. We are here to help!

We also recognize the strong and emerging organizations within our diverse communities upon whom we at DECD depend to help us make connections with those who face barriers in more traditional business support networks. If you represent a community-led organization and would like to be included in our resources, let us know.

The State of Maine does not vet or endorse any specific resource, but we are confident you will find supports that match your needs.

Resources for Immigrants

Are you new to Maine? Welcome! Do you want to put your skills to use by starting a business but are not sure where to start? The Office of Business Development is excited to help you along your journey to business ownership. Here are some resources to help you get started. Please contact us with any questions.

2,368 immigrant business owners in Maine -American Immigration Council, 2018

14,659 people employed by immigrant-owned businesses -Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, 2021

StartSmart at CEI

Free business development program that helps immigrants start or grow a business with expert advice, financing, and assistance navigating legal and regulatory requirements. Interpreters are available.

Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center (GPIWC)

GPIWC seeks to strengthen the immigrant community through language learning, economic integration, and civic engagement. The Center hosts the Immigrant Business Hub and a co-working space.

Immigrant Business Hub

Hosted by GPIWC as a resource to help immigrants understand, navigate, and thrive as business owners in Maine. Offers training seminars, access to co-working space, mentoring, and connections with others in the business community.

Indus Fund

Provides microloans of up to $10,000 to immigrant-owned businesses in Maine. Loan recipients also receive a business mentor.

ProsperityME

Offers advice on how to start a small business, financial literacy courses, and career planning counseling for the immigrant community.

PortLand of Opportunity - Professional Connections

Networking program for immigrants with a foreign professional degree to connect with the established business community in Portland.

AK Health and Social Services

Lewiston-based non-profit that works to connect immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and BIPOC individuals with job opportunities.

MaineStream Finance

Nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) helping ALL Maine home buyers, business owners, and consumers secure advice and financing to grow and thrive.

Sunrise County Economic Council

Offers a variety of resources, including funding, to support businesses in Washington County. SCEC works closely with Mano en Mano, a group dedicated to helping members of the Latinx community, immigrants, and farmworkers in Downeast Maine.

Resources for Entrepreneurs of Color

Black Owned Maine (BOM)

Organization working to promote black-owned brands and businesses in Maine, as well as to promote Maine as a warm and inviting home to black entrepreneurs.

One Maine Group

Strategic partnership between BOM and Providentia Group working to understand how best to support the entrepreneurial aspirations of BIPOC Mainers. One Maine Group is launching a BIPOC business incubator to help BIPOC Mainers launch successful businesses.

The Third Place

Organization that strives to create connections among members of the Black community throughout Maine through networking and other events. Also working to foster and grow a strong Black business and professional community through networking and a co-working space.

For Us By Us Fund

Supports Black, Brown, Indigenous and People of Color living their best life in Maine. Founded and run by BIPOC Mainers, the Fund provides grants for BIPOC-led projects, BIPOC organizers, and personal grants for folks in need of financial support or mutual aid.

Four Directions Development Corporation

Native-run CDFI that serves Wabanaki communities in Maine by providing loans and advising services to Native entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Resources for LGBTQ Entrepreneurs

National LGBT Chamber of Commerce

National organization that works to advance the status of LGBT-owned businesses. Offers an LGBT Business Enterprise certification.

Library of Congress LGBTQ+ Business Resources

List of organizations and resources for LGBTQ+ business owners and workers.

Resources for Women and Veteran Entrepreneurs

CEI Women’s Business Center

SBA partner that provides free business advising, workshops, and events for women in business.

New England Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC)

SBA partner that provides free entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling, and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard & Reserve members, and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business.


1 Rocío Lorenzo et al., "How diverse leadership teams boost innovation," Boston Consulting Group, January 23, 2018.