15 Black Women Business Owners Win Grants of $10,000 Each To Help Grow Their Firms

Multiple reports show that 2020 has been a brutal year for small business owners, including Black women entrepreneurs, largely because of the devastation from COVID-19.

Yet, well ahead of the economic obstacles fueled by the pandemic, female founders received just 2.8% of venture capitalist funding. And more troubling, a report called ProjectDiane found that just 0.2% of all VC funding was allocated toward startups founded by Black women.

Formed to bridge the funding shortfall for women-owned enterprises, the Stacy’s Rise Project just awarded $150,000 in grants to 15 Black women business owners. The $10,000 each winner collected, along with professional advertising services and executive coaching/mentorship, will help them tackle challenges that many Black women founders face in this current environment. It’s a big deal as the grant recipients were chosen from thousands of applicants based on such factors as their commitment to social impact, sustainability, and how they faced recent challenges in their businesses.

The 2020 Stacy’s Rise Project, a grant and mentorship program created by Stacy’s Pita Chips, focuses on advancing female founders. Stacy’s is one of the brands that make up Frito-Lay North America, a unit of PepsiCo Inc. The grant recipients were picked in September by a panel of Frito-Lay and PepsiCo leaders, along with longtime partner Hello Alice. The annual program was launched this year in June.

Ciara Dilley, Frito-Lay vice president of marketing, told Black Enterprise by email that the15 Black female founders represent thousands more amazing Black businesswomen worthy of investors’ attention and investment. “Our goal with the Stacy’s Rise Project is to provide our winners with resources that will set them up for long-term success—which in addition to the grant money includes mentor relationships that last long after the formal program concludes, plus educational webinars and even professional advertising services.”

According to a news release, the winning business owners include:

  • Arielle Loren, Miami, who founded 100K Incubator. 100K Incubator is a small-business funding app created for women to help scale their business through live coaching and classes.
  • Thereasa Black, Arlington, Va., who started Amore Congelato LLC. The company’s nutritious sorbets and gelatos are sweetened with dates. And each pint is printed with facts about social injustice.
  • Stevonne Ratliff, Oakland, Calif., who founded Beija-Flor Naturals. Beija-Flor Naturals is a natural beauty brand encouraging women of color to embrace their natural hair and stop chemical straightening.
  • Lisa S. Jones, Atlanta, who established EyeMail Inc. EyeMail Inc. is a patent-pending marketing tech company that brings email to life by embedding videos.
  • Cassandre Davilmar, Brooklyn, N.Y., who founded Lakou Brands LLC. Lakou Brands LLC is a Haitian-American café and event space in Brooklyn where communities can gather to nourish their bodies and souls.
  • Kim Roxie, Houston, who established LAMIK Beauty. LAMIK Beauty is a beauty-tech company designed for multicultural women with products made with natural and organic ingredients.
  • Anika Hobbs, Baltimore, who founded Nubian Hueman. Nubian Hueman is a social enterprise that sources and curates unique goods, fashion and art representing the global diaspora.
  • Latricia Wright, Detroit, who started Olive Seed. Olive Seed is a holistic wellness company offering integrative services like nutritional counseling, wellness workshops and wholesome products.
  • Logan Niles, Seattle, who established Pot Pie Factory Inc. The company’s comfort food brings families together by fusing an American classic with the flavors of our modern American melting pot.
  • Karneisha Christian, Compton, Calif., who founded Pucker Up Lemonade Company. The company’s handcrafted lemonade brand offers over 40 flavors and supports local community organizations.
  • Mimi Johnson, Atlanta, who founded The Glamatory. The beauty boutique offers cruelty-free makeup and posh services that give makeup artists a platform to grow.
  • Xiomara Rosa-Tedla, Oakland, Calif., who founded UnoEth, Inc. The company designs leather bags and accessories in partnership with Ethiopian artisans while helping them launch their own businesses.
  • Zandra Cunningham, Buffalo, N.Y., who established Zandra. The eco-friendly, plant-based skincare company helps support nonprofits that inspire education for girls.
  • Deborah Koenigsberger, New York, who started Noir Et Blanc NYC. The French-themed women’s clothing boutique helps support homeless mothers and children during the pandemic.
  • Anika Godwin Hilderbrand, Greensboro, N.C., who built OpulenceMD Beauty. The company’s mission-driven line of beauty solutions puts the health of your eyes and vision at the forefront.

Dilley says when the Stacy’s Rise Project was kicked off this year, she was joined by Cameka Smith, founder of The BOSS Network. They talked about the importance of female mentorship.

Cameka Smith
Image: Courtesy of Cameka Smith

Dilley asserted “our survey earlier this year revealed that female entrepreneurs who have had a mentor (73%) are more likely to feel well-equipped with the necessary resources to grow their business, compared to those who have not.

She added making those connections and building relationships is more critical than ever. She explained that is why the 15 winners will also receive coaching and promotion through The BOSS Network, which Dilley reports has over 3,000 members nationally.

Sharing about the importance of programs like the Stacy’s Rise Project, Smith of The Boss Network told Black Enterprise by email that Black female founders are the most underserved population when it comes to starting small businesses. Despite being the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America, she says Black women are continuing to see their businesses fail due to a lack of funding and mentorship support.

“As an entrepreneur myself, I know the power of support in helping a business grow and the Stacy’s Rise Project has given these women a lifejacket to make sure they succeed.”

Simultaneously, Dilley says reports show that women-owned businesses have an average ROI of two times per dollar invested and that companies with diverse management teams deliver higher on innovation while also having lower employee turnover. As a female-founded brand, she says Stacy’s ultimate goal is to help women rise. She says the 2020 Rise of the Female Founder survey conducted this summer revealed that consumers share the same sentiment. Among its findings:

  • 79% of consumers think it is important to see more female-founded businesses in their communities.
  • 67% of consumers wish it was easier to find products/services from female-founded businesses.
  • 82% of consumers want to see more of female founders in company ads.
  • 41% indicate they would be more likely to purchase products/services if a company’s marketing featured its female founder.

“We’re incredibly proud to have expanded the Rise Project to support these additional 15 Black female founders to tell their incredible stories because we firmly believe that people want to support them—and that their accomplishments will inspire more aspiring entrepreneurs, too,” Dilley says.

Dilley encourages Black female entrepreneurs to join the PepsiCo WomanMade community, which offers resources year-round to over 3,000 members. She says the community includes Ask Me Anything-style webinars from experts within the PepsiCo and Frito-Lay network as well as first notifications about grant programs like Stacy’s Rise Project. For more information visit here.