Our Impact

The Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund (MBELDEF) has a critical role to play in protecting minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs) and this, in turn, benefits the entire American economy. Without a doubt, business entities, both large and small—MBE and others—form the base of our economy and financial systems.

Unfortunately, although all businesses have some initial struggles with start-up, research shows that MBEs face more discriminatory challenges than non-minority-owned businesses when trying to build their companies. Ensuring fair economic inclusion for MBEs must therefore continue to be a national priority.

The Facts

Minority-owned businesses account for 18.7% of all US businesses but receive less than 5% of gross receipts. It is well known that discrimination can be subtle and that multitudes of minority and women business owners face serious, intentional discrimination.

Minority businesses often face discrimination in securing business loans from their local financial institutions. A study by Bates & Robb (2016) found that higher rates of rejection and lower loan amounts typified lending to black and Hispanic-owned MBEs.

The 2021 Small Business Credit Survey found that Black-owned firms that applied for traditional forms of financing were least likely to receive all of the financing they sought — 40% of white-owned firms received all of the financing they sought, compared to 31% of Asian-owned firms, 20% of Hispanic-owned, and only 13% of black-owned firms. This trend persists even among firms with good credit scores. (MBDA The Opportunity Project 2021 Problem Statement)

All companies (especially small companies) are facing global inflation, supply chain challenges and even the uncertainty caused by war and unrest. But on top of these challenges, MBEs face much greater challenges caused by discrimination that results in:

  • Unfair constraints that keep them smaller for longer periods of time,
  • Unequal market access,
  • Capacity constraints,
  • Malicious disinformation,
  • And even harassment, sabotage, and violence

All of this combined with the lack of enforcement of existing federal, state, and local minority business enterprise programs (MBE programs), results in a perfect storm of headwinds impeding the economic progress of minority-owned businesses – and the communities that rely upon them to generate wealth.

Our Purpose

It is because of this ongoing battle that MBELDEF exists
to fight for the legal rights of minority businesses at every crucial moment,
whether in:

It is because of this ongoing battle that MBELDEF exists to fight for the legal rights of minority businesses at every crucial moment, whether in:


Supreme Court cases


regulatory overhauls


government-wide efforts

MBELDEF, for the last four decades, has acted as the legal watchdog group for minority business owners by fighting discrimination in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches at the federal, state, and local levels. We also work to provide education and information to MBEs and their allies to help them fight for their own rights and plan for the future.

Only through these actions can we seek to ensure equal treatment and opportunity for minority-owned businesses.

Our primary purpose is to eradicate wealth disparities by giving minority businesses a fighting chance for economic empowerment, via the elimination of discrimination, prejudice, and bias and by increasing MBE’s ability to raise the economic prospects of all communities, but especially communities of color.

Donate Today

Donate Today

By supporting MBELDEF, you directly contribute to creating a more inclusive business environment and driving positive change for underrepresented communities.

Steven Sims, a current Board Member, received both his BA and MS from Columbia University. He is a nationally recognized advocate for minority businesses and, among other roles, served as Vice President for Programs, Field Operations, and Government Relations for the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) where his responsibilities included the development, coordination, and implementation of programs and projects, and, where necessary, he provided technical assistance/training to the National Office as well as its Regional Councils.

He also created and led the NMSDC Government Relations Office in Washington DC. Over many years working with MBELDEF, he and Tony Robinson, were able to create synergy between the two organizations which resulted in the protection and support for minority business development around the country. Mr. Sims also has a wealth of experience stemming from important positions in several public, private, and nonprofit entities and institutions.

Nicholas Perkins, past Chairman of the Board and current Board Member, holds an undergraduate degree from Fayetteville State University and an MBA from Howard University. He is nationally recognized for his dynamic and visionary entrepreneurial leadership and has received many awards and accolades.

The son of a single mother, Perkins was only 24 years old when he founded Perkins Management Services which specializes in providing contract food service management to colleges, universities, hospitals, and the Department of Defense. At 40, Perkin’s acquired Fuddrucker’s restaurant chain, becoming the first African American to own a nationwide burger franchise.

Perkins is passionate about civil rights and is a Trustee of the National Urban League and a proud member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

Sarah von der Lippe, the pro-bono Chief Legal Counsel, holds an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a law degree from Harvard University. Ms. von der Lippe is herself a small business owner, having founded a solo civil rights legal practice devoted to defending and promoting the success of minority businesses across the nation. She is widely recognized as one of the foremost experts on the law and policy related to MBEs.

For most of the past two decades, Ms. von der Lippe has acted as the Chief Legal Counsel to MBELDEF on a completely pro-bono basis and has assisted Mr. Robinson in every aspect of operating MBELDEF as an unfunded but agile and effective legal watchdog organization.

Monique Young, who currently acts as MBELDEF’s Chief Accounting Officer and Development Strategist has a BS in Accounting from Shaw University, MBA from Strayer University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Walden University. She enjoys working with numbers, administration, and strategy.

In addition, she is a minority business owner as co-owner of One Accord Services a licensed General Contractor, and a Drywall and Metal Framing Subcontractor based in Raleigh North Carolina. Ms. Young is currently preparing to apply to law school in her (nonexistent) free time so that she can be the vanguard of the next generation of MBELDEF legal watchdogs.

Send A Check

If you're interested in donating and would like to send a check,

Send your check to:
Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund (MBELDEF)
P.O. Box 15323
Washington, D.C. 20003