Model & Strategy
MORTAR’s mission is to use entrepreneurship for historically marginalized populations as a way to change lives, preserve diverse communities, and stem the wealth gap in the United States. Based in Cincinnati, their multi-pronged strategy includes a culturally relevant entrepreneurship and business development curriculum; access to start-up capital for those who have completed the curriculum; brick and mortar pop-up shops for entrepreneurs; and city-level advocacy to support entrepreneurs of color and female entrepreneurs.
MORTAR is led by founder and Executive Director Allen Woods, who also serves as a business consultant and training facilitator for incoming students. Allen has been recognized as a Cincinnati Business Courier 40 Under 40 Business Leader, is a recipient of the John F. Barrett Entrepreneur Vision Award, an Echoing Green BMA Fellow. Allen Woods is also a sought-after public speaker who recently shined on the TEDx stage. As a brand strategist and designer, Allen assisted directly in the growth of hundreds of small businesses and personal brands across the globe.
The largest demographic of entrepreneurs nationally continues to be Black women (with the number of Black women business owners growing by 89% just in the past year) and that trend remains true in the MORTAR community of students and alumni. 65% of the 261 MORTAR graduates are Black women.
38 new businesses were created as well as 79 new jobs following completion of our Entrepreneurship Academy in 2019.
Since 2015, MORTAR has awarded $263,000 in loans, grants, and equity investments to graduates of our program.