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Updated: March 27, 2023

New business accelerator aims to empower underserved entrepreneurs in Maine

Diverse entrepreneurs at a table Courtesy / Entrepreneurship for All Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that aims to accelerate economic and social impact through inclusive entrepreneurship. Shown here are members of the Lawrence, Mass., cohort in 2020.

Maine is getting another startup accelerator, but with a focus on underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll), a Lowell, Mass.-based nonprofit, will bring its programming to Maine with funding from Maine Technology Institute for three years.

Participants will receive training and support to start, grow, or sustain a business or nonprofit across a range of industries from professional services to manufacturing and technology.

Meralis Hood
Courtesy / EforAll
Meralis Hood, CEO of EforAll

"We know that Mainers are industrious, highly motivated and entrepreneurial, and there are some great organizations in place to help a lot of these individuals," Meralis T. Hood, CEO of EforAll, told Mainebiz. "EforAll is unique in that it plans to focus specifically on underserved entrepreneurs who may not be pursuing their business ideas, as it simply feels too daunting or out of reach.”

She added that EforAll Maine “is here for those individuals and is equipped to help them realize their business or nonprofit dreams, from restaurants, beauty salons and charter fishing boat businesses to elder care and handmade crafts, and everything in between."  

She also notes that while small businesses account for 99.2% of Maine's total, only 1.1% are Hispanic-owned, and 2.6% are owned by members of other racial minority groups. That "proves a need for a program focused on supporting typically under-represented entrepreneurs to create a more inclusive ecosystem,” she said.

MTI is the program's lead sponsor.

"EforAll programs will enable more BIPOC entrepreneurs to gain the confidence and the skills to dream big and leverage the support groups throughout the state that can ensure success," said MTI President Brian Whitney.

EforAll's programming includes regular pitch contests and a year-long business accelerator offered twice a year. The program combines practical business training with dedicated mentorship from local businesses and community leaders, along with access to a large professional network.

"We're excited for the opportunity to launch in yet another New England state, making it the third in our roster, following Massachusetts and Rhode Island," said EforAll CEO Meralis hood. "We are grateful to the support of MTI and look forward to delivering programming that can benefit all aspiring entrepreneurs across the state."

The nonprofit plans to have a physical presence in Portland, Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn, and plans to kick off its first pitch contest in fall 2023 and its first accelerator program the following spring.

Now hiring

EforAll is seeking an executive director for the Maine program. A spokesperson for the organization told Mainebiz that interviews are underway, but the application is still open for any interested candidates. After that job is filled, the organization plans to hire a program manager and part-time program coordinator as well. Anyone who is interested in the EforAll Maine executive director role can find out more and apply here.

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