The Eastern North Carolina Entrepreneurial Promise (“ENCEP”) is a virtual regional accelerator for small businesses owned by minorities and women and located in underserved counties in eastern North Carolina. ENCEP cohorts (of up to 15 companies each) will benefit from:

  • Mentorship with an experienced business owner
  • 10 weeks of virtual instruction, fine tuned to the needs of diverse businesses with scaling opportunities
  • 1:1 coaching
  • Targeted strategic advisory services
  • Connections to capital providers
  • Networking with peer companies

ENCEP is a two-year project of the National Institute of Minority Economic Development and Partner Community Capital, who received funding from NC IDEA Foundation to launch the program. ENCEP expects to run additional cohorts.

Why Eastern North Carolina?

Small businesses drive job growth, wealth creation, and stronger local economies. Yet, Eastern NC is significantly underinvested for entrepreneurship and small business growth, compared to North Carolina’s Piedmont and western North Carolina regions.

By utilizing best practices for incubators and taking advantage of improved networking technology, ENCEP serves as a launchpad for scalable companies run by diverse entrepreneurs in the region’s underserved counties.

ENCEP’s targeted support is meant to help minority and women entrepreneurs scale their businesses, create wealth for their families, and provide good jobs for their neighbors. There’s room to grow:

  • Blacks comprise more than 33% of the population in 22 counties east of I-95, but only 22% of businesses in the region were Black owned (2012).
  • Average start-up capital nationwide for Black entrepreneurs is 1/3 of that available to whites (Kauffman Firm Survey).
  • The average loan for a woman-owned business is 31% small than for male-owned businesses (2019 Biz2Credit study).

Town of Beaufort, NC | Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash


Dionne McGee head shot

Dionne McGee

Dionne McGee is the Cohort Director of the Eastern North Carolina Entrepreneurial Promise (ENCEP), where she and her team manages the ENCEP program.

In the past, Dionne held executive leadership roles in corporate America leading sales organizations. She is a professional, speaker, author, and entrepreneur. Dionne has a passion to provide professional development and help individuals and organizations find their road to success.

She is excited to be a part of ENCEP to bring diversity and stimulation to the eastern NC economy as she is a native of Washington, NC. She is a certified Project Manager and Ice House Facilitator. Dionne earned her B.A from North Carolina Wesleyan accompanied by a host of certifications. She is Relentless. Optimistic. Ambitious and Results Driven. She ROARs and wants you to as well!

About the Partners

National Institute of Minority Economic Development logo

In 1986, The National Institute of Minority Economic Development (The Institute) was established to challenge the inequities experienced by African Americans in the areas of policy, equitable access, and economic opportunities. The Institute’s mission is to strengthen the asset base of diverse (African American, Native American, and Hispanic) populations through policy, education, and economic opportunities. Our vision is economic prosperity for diverse populations and an environment in which race, gender, or geography is no longer a barrier to economic opportunity and prosperity. We believe that all people, no matter race, gender or social position, should have equal opportunity to live, grow, thrive, produce and contribute to our economy and civic life.

The Institute hosts three SBA-funded Women’s Business Centers; a DOT-funded Small Business Transportation Resource Center, Public Allies (AmeriCorps-funded), and a CDFI, Institute Capital. Its footprint is regional:  NC, VA, WV, KY and DC Metro. Our programs collectively offer TA and funding to small businesses, operational support to non-profits, and diversity, equity and inclusion training to corporations.

Partner Community Capital logo

Partner Community Capital  (PCAP) funds and supports enterprises that promote a healthy environment and healthy families in North Carolina, West Virginia, and the Appalachian regions of surrounding states.

A US Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) founded in 2001, PCAP has invested more than $100 M in more than 550 enterprises. These businesses and non-profits have created or retained over 6,000 jobs, primarily for low and moderate income individuals.  The Fund specializes in supporting triple-bottom-line enteprises that promote equity, protect the environment, and grow the economy.

Over 1/2 of the businesses PCAP lends to are owned by diverse entrepreneurs (women and minorities), and over 85% are in rural or underserved communities. PCAP believes capital alone is not enough to provide the economic boost these communities deserve.  So, the fund provides over 4,000 hours of technical assistance annually to prospective borrowers and portfolio companies, making sure they are well-equipped to make the best use of PCAP’s loan capital.

PCAP’s 6 full time lenders operate from six offices across NC and WV.

114 W. Parrish Street
Durham, North Carolina 27701

(919) 812-6635

Generous funding for ENCEP comes from