CBA Partners with Ascend LA to Support Diverse Small Business Owners

A new partnership has positioned LMU College of Business Administration (CBA) at the forefront of building the next generation of $1M+ businesses owned by women and people of color.

The CBA received a $140,000 grant from Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to act as the management education partner for the Ascend LA Program. Ascend LA is a collaborative initiative that helps diverse small businesses throughout Los Angeles County gain access to management education, capital and contracting opportunities in order to stimulate business growth and job creation.

“Serving as Ascend LA’s management education partner aligns beautifully with our business school mission and strategic goals,” said Dayle Smith, dean of LMU College of Business Administration. “We look forward to serving our community of small businesses owned by women and people of color, providing an opportunity to enhance their managerial skills, empower them with an entrepreneurial mindset, and contribute to a more sustainable community.”

The 12-session training program – led by the Fred Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship – will be taught by leading CBA faculty members from Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Management and Accounting. A group of industry professionals and mentors will complement the training program with their invaluable industry expertise.

Serving the community and spearheading “business for good” initiatives are core values of the CBA and the Fred Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship. The center has a track record of running programs that champion diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, such as a curriculum development project for Centro Community Partners (a not-for-profit serving people of color), entrepreneurship programs for refugees and people from lower-income communities, an annual conference for women entrepreneurs, and a financial literacy program for disadvantaged high school students.

The Ascend LA Management Education Program will focus on entrepreneurial competence, business foundation, and access to capital to enable up to 60 participating businesses to accelerate growth and acquire corporate and government contracts.

“We are looking for people who are ready to take their business to the next level,” said David Choi, professor of entrepreneurship and director of the Fred Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship.

The program will be broken down into five modules:

  1. Entrepreneurial Mindset & Management:Proactive, innovative, and resilient behavior; the lean approach; setting and achieving goals.
  2. Marketing & Sales:Market analysis; value proposition; pitching; developing a relationship; selling and landing customers.
  3. Management & Leadership:Building a team, establishing the systems for growth, leading; motivating & inspiring others.
  4. Accounting, Financial, & Financing:Basic accounting & bookkeeping; planning & budgeting; financial statements; financial projection; obtaining capital.
  5. Contract Acquisition:Reviewing RFP & preparing proposals; certification; capability statement; bidding, negotiating, and winning.

“Participants will also greatly benefit from meeting other motivated business owners and mentors and being able to access expertise in landing government contracts and obtaining capital,” added Choi. “We hope that many of LA’s driven entrepreneurs will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.”

Ascend LA’s spring cohort began on May 15. A second cohort will take place in fall 2021. The application can be found at

The program was featured on CBS Los Angeles.