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Young Entrepreneurs Competition

The Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council/CBOForums proudly presents the second annual Young Entrepreneurs Competition, targeting minority entrepreneurs aged 18-35 who are ready to expand. Sponsored by, and in partnership with Aetna Better Health of Illinois, this initiative is a key component of ChicagoMSDC’s/CBOF programming. We’ve also collaborated with the Chicago Urban League on this effort. The competition offers participants an opportunity to receive professional mentorship, tailored training sessions, workshops and more. Five young entrepreneurs will receive a financial grant to cover the cost of their initial application fee towards the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) MBE Certification. One young entrepreneurs will receive $5,000 to help their established minority-owned business scale and penetrate major corporate supply chains.


  • Age Requirement: Entrepreneurs must be between the ages of 18-35 as of July 1, 2024.

  • Geographical Location: The company must be based in the State of Illinois or within the following counties of Northwest Indiana: Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton, and Jasper.

  • NMSDC MBE Certification Requirements: To be eligible for MBE certification, applicants must meet the following criteria:
    • The business must be at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by U.S. citizens of African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian Pacific American, or Asian Indian American descent.

    • The business owner must have operational and managerial control, possess expertise in the field, and be actively involved in the day-to-day operations.

    • The business must be a for-profit enterprise and physically located in the United States or its trust territories.


  • Round 1 – Selected companies will participate in two mandatory capacity building events in July. The work product generated from these sessions will play a critical role in determining which participants advance to the next round. These workshops are designed to enhance business capabilities and prepare participants for subsequent competition stages. Participants will also be enrolled in the Cook County Small Business Source under ChicagoMSDC for ongoing business support.

  • Round 2 – Semifinals: The top companies from the initial pool will be selected to receive the following benefits under the sponsorship of Aetna:
    • Mentorship from established and diverse entrepreneurs.
    • Enrichment opportunities, including:
      • Insights and advice from leading diverse businesses such as Richards Graphic, Jakpan Enterprises, Inc., SBE Media Consultants, Ventures Unlimited, Inc., and Metaphrasis.
      • Workshops on “How to Do Business with CVS Health” and Supplier Readiness.
    • Final Round: The top five companies from the semifinals will advance as finalists. Each will receive grants covering the cost of applying for NMSDC MBE Certification and hands-on pitch preparation.
    • Pitch Event: The five finalists will present their business pitches live, competing for the grand prize of $5,000.

Program Schedule:

  • May 17 – June 24: Application Period
  • June 25 – June 28: Participant Selection
  • July 1 – July 31: Round 1 Capacity Building Workshops
  • August 1 – August 15: Semifinalist Selection
  • August 16 – September 30: Semifinals
  • October 1 – October 15: Finalist Selection
  • October 16 – November 13: Finals
Should you have any questions about the CBOF Young Entrepreneurs Competition, please contact Vanessa Smith:

1.1. The applicant’s business/nonprofit must demonstrate a positive impact on its community, including creating new jobs, pioneering innovative products, or enhancing accessibility of products and services.

1.2. Preference will be given to organizations in operation for at least one (1) year, with all eligible businesses encouraged to apply.

1.3. The organization must have generated revenue, with a preferred minimum annual revenue of $20,000 and maximum annual revenue of $1,000,000.

1.4. Preference will be given to organizations with a direct impact on their community.

1.5. The organization must be legally formed under United States law and operate within Pilsen or North Lawndale as defined by the maps linked here (PILSEN)  (NORTH LAWNDALE).

2.1. A total of $250,000 in funds will be awarded to a minimum of ten small businesses within the Pilsen or North Lawndale community.  Selected grant recipients will receive a total of $5,000 -$25,000.

2.2. The grant is intended to build capacity, foster business growth and amplify community impact; use of funds should align with these intentions.

2.3. Funds awarded are to be used explicitly for business development and growth. Misuse of funds may result in revocation and legal action.

3.1.  Grants will be awarded in June 2024, with an application deadline of April 30th at 11:59PM CST. 

3.2. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

4.1. All Pilsen or North Lawndale applicants must complete the official AMSG application Powered by Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council.  Applicants may only apply to one AMSG program. 

4.2. Incomplete applications or those not adhering to guidelines will be disqualified.

4.3. No duplication allowed. Each grant goes to a unique organization entity. CDCs cannot receive compensation from organization owners. 

4.4. Award winners collaborate with Allstate and CDC to receive funds, use them to build capacity, and share impact stories for publicity efforts.

4.5. Applicants agree to receive email communications from Allstate Insurance Company.

4.6. Applications are subject to a rigorous review process; additional information may be requested.

5.1. Potential impact on the grant award on the organization and community.

5.2. Track record and credibility of the organization.

5.3. Alignment with the grant’s mission to support organizations impacting underrepresented communities.

5.4. Demonstrated need for financial assistance to enhance community impact.

6.1. Grant recipients will be notified via provided contact information.

6.2. Non-selected applicants will not receive individualized feedback due to the volume of applications.

7.1. By applying, the applicant agrees to abide by all official rules and guidelines.

7.2. Allstate reserves the right to modify terms, eligibility criteria, or any aspects of the grant without prior notice.

7.3. False representation or misleading information leads to immediate disqualification.

7.4. Allstate is the ultimate arbiter of any dispute. 

8.1. Submitted data will be used solely for evaluating grant applications.
8.2. Allstate and Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council commit to safeguarding data and will not share it without the applicant’s express consent.