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The D.C. Small Business Development Center launches online marketplace

In efforts to allow small business owners to showcase their products and services for consumer purchase at no cost, the District of Columbia Small Business Development Center (DCSBDC) recently launched an online marketplace.

D.C. Small Business Development Center Office, which is located on Howard University’s campus (Kai Blair/The Hilltop) 

The District of Columbia Small Business Development Center (DCSBDC), launched its online marketplace last month. The marketplace allows small business owners to directly upload their products and services online for consumer purchase free of charge. 

The DCSBDC is a free joint economic development program at Howard University in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. It provides financial assistance to small business owners and allocates resources for training to improve business owners’ knowledge of e-commerce, cybersecurity awareness and marketing. 

The development center has been located on Howard’s campus since 1979 when Carl Brown, executive director for the DCSBDC, was a Howard student. Brown has more than 25 years of experience in consulting, training, human resources, sales and marketing in both the public and private business sectors before joining the staff at DCSBDC. 

The new online marketplace not only assists student entrepreneurs in photographing their products and arranging product placement but also offers a cost-free website to upload their goods and services.

“When I found out that other small business development centers around the world had marketplaces, I thought it was an excellent way to teach our student entrepreneurs how to do e-commerce the correct way,” Brown said. “We are using this as a teaching tool and making it available to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of Howard University.” 

Brown said he wants to make the new marketplace the face of Black e-commerce, highlighting that it is one of the only platforms that offer Black-owned products in one place.

“Where else can you find that? It’s not Amazon, it’s not Etsy. I’m not bashing these places, but when you come on our website you know it’s Black-owned and Black-made,” Brown added. 

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“Sammy The Saver vs. The Spendthrift” by Carl Brown, executive director of DCSBDC, is a comic book that aims to educate the youth on financial literacy through the story of main character Sammy and his friends. (Kai Blair/The Hilltop)

The DCSBDC has been in the D.C. area for more than 40 years and has served thousands of small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Robin Cole, administrative assistant at the DCSBDC, shared her experience at the development center, and how putting people first is a main priority at the workplace.

“I’ve been here since 2019 and my experience here has been very good. I enjoy working for a company where the vision is about people and not about self-gain, and that’s what DCSBDC is about, helping people advance through their small business,” Cole said.

The online marketplace aims to positively impact small business owners in many ways. Small business owners can leverage the audience that DCSBDC has gained throughout the years to promote their own businesses. With thousands of people using DCSBDC,  it can be a way to self-promote a private business. 

Yodit Shibru, director of government contracts, believes the DCSBDC provides a platform that is instrumental to building a clientele. 

“One of the advantages is that we get a lot of visitors on our website,” Shibru said. “Maybe our clients have had their business for one or two years, but having their product on that platform, they can benefit from the DCSBDC brand to increase themselves.”

For more information, visit the official online marketplace at

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Copy edited by Azaria Jackson 


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