Continuing its history of support for Mississippi commerce, the Mississippi State University College of Business is taking part in a new initiative to help small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, housed in the business college, is helping the just-established Mississippi 30 Day Fund with initial application reviews to expedite the time it takes to get money to small business owners. The non-profit fund, launched by MSU alumna Marie Sanderson and her husband Brian of Ocean Springs, provides quick, forgivable loans of up to $3,000 to these Mississippi-based businesses.
“We are very proud to do our part for the state to help the many small businesses that have been struggling during these difficult times,” said College of Business Dean Sharon Oswald. “It is inspiring to see one of our alumni spearheading this effort and to see the entrepreneurial expertise developed here at MSU continuing to benefit the state.”
The Mississippi 30 Day Fund is based on similar programs that have been successful in other states and complements state and federal COVID-19 relief programs. Businesses that qualify for assistance must be owned and operated by a Mississippi resident, have been operating in the state for at least a year, and employ between three and 30 people. Funds disbursed through the program do not have to be repaid. However, if recipients wish to “pay it forward” they may direct the money back to the fund, where it will help additional businesses in need. The program is funded by private donations and support.
“Brian and I met during recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and witnessed how instrumental small businesses are to the economy and character of Mississippi. The response and leadership of the private sector was important then, and we believe it is critical now. The Mississippi 30 Day Fund will harness the generosity of Mississippians,” said Marie Sanderson, a 2001 MSU College of Business graduate, in a release announcing the effort.
The MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach’s Peer Review Panel, along with business college graduate students, will help screen applicants. The panel is made up of successful entrepreneurs that worked with the E-Center to start businesses. The group regularly reviews pitches by current students seeking their first funding from the E-Center. Jeffrey Rupp, director of outreach for the College of Business, is coordinating MSU’s involvement.
“The number of applications is expected to grow exponentially,” Rupp said. “The E-Center supports over 100 start-ups every year, and they have to go through a similar process to get funding, so we have a system in place to do this. Everybody was immediately willing to help with this. It’s a nice way for us as a university to give back and fits well within the land-grant mission and the mission of the College of Business.”
For more on the Mississippi 30 Day Fund, visit www.ms30dayfund.com.