The New Voices Foundation and Target Accelerators continued their support of the growth and visibility of women of color-owned businesses this past month with the February 2021 New Voices + Target Accelerators Pitch Competition.
“We have long known about the unique challenges and systemic inequities that women of color entrepreneurs and their businesses face and are committed to continuing to support their survival and growth,” said Richelyna Hall, Chief Impact Officer at New Voices Foundation.
How It Works
Hundreds of qualified companies apply for a chance to pitch and from that pool, ten finalists are chosen. Each finalist is a winner with prizing from $5,000 to $20,000 and every business receives coaching and mentorship to help them further grow and scale their companies.
This time around, the finalist companies ranged from trucking to tech, food and beverage to feminine care and everything in between. These businesses are proof that Black women are making strides in a host of industries.
On February 26th, an audience watched live on EssenceStudios.com as the 10 finalists pitched, answered judges’ questions, and judges deliberated to award the lauded prizes. The live chat buzzed with viewers on the edge of their seats to see the pitches and results. Judges Robbie Robinson, Founder & CEO, Pendulum Holdings, LLC., Kinna Thomas, VP of Planning, Food & Beverage, Target, and Eda Henries, Founder and Principal, Henries & Co. and Chief Financial Officer, Cornbread Farm to Soul made the difficult choices.
Pitches + Prizes
Here is a glimpse into the compelling pitches and prizes of the day:
The $5,000 winners
Caribbrew introduces the centuries-old coffee, cocoa flavors and aromas of the Caribbean to the U.S. consumer.
“Currently, Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world. It is over four thousand miles away from the U.S. We can get to Haiti in just two hours by air. This is a huge competitive advantage in the quality of the coffee we are able to bring to the U.S. market.” —Beverly Malbranche, CEO and Founder, Caribbrew.
Trade Street Jam Co. is a low sugar, vegan jam company. Their jams truly shine in cocktails, cooking, baking and more.
“I didn’t see something in jam that I wanted to build a business around, I followed my heart and my passion and it led to a business. I really love preserving and putting things in jars and people really loved it, too. They really felt [my passion] when they ate the product.” —Ashley Rouse, Founder and CEO, Trade Street Jam Co.
Good Vibes All Purpose Cleaner is for conscious consumers who are concerned about exposing their families to dangerous chemicals as well as those who wish to change the energy in their space.
“One day back in 2006, I was cleaning my house and turned my back for a second. My two year old son grabbed the cleaning spray, put it in his mouth and pulled the nozzle. [..] As I nursed him through that, I vowed to change the way I did things in our home. I started making my own cleaning products.”—Ymani Efunyale, Founder and CEO, Good Vibes Clean
2 Girls and Our Trucks LLC is a long haul trucking company that currently hauls general freight such as water, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, automobile parts, etc.
“Our goal is to become a very large trucking company that employs a lot of drivers. We make sure our drivers are all treated equally with [industry-standard] pay.”—Simonne Smith, CFO, 2 Girls and Our Trucks
The $10,000 Winners
Tequity is a do it yourself no-code mobile app development platform that is looking to empower non-technical solo founders to find equity through entrepreneurship.
“When I first started as an app founder, I hit roadblocks with finding trustworthy developers as a non-technical co-founder. Tequity makes taking that first step as a non-tech solo founder that much easier.”—Sydney Davis, Founder and Director of Operations, Tequity
Jenny Dawn Cellars has grown from the dream of an at-home winemaker into Wichita’s first urban winery.
“I am the only African American female winemaker in the state of Kansas. …Every aspect of our brand is designed to be inclusive.”—Jennifer McDonald, Founder, CEO, and Winemaker, Jenny Dawn Cellars
Femly’s eco-friendly & sustainable personal care products meet the needs of girls and women across the feminine lifecycle from menstruation to menopause.
“At 26 years old, I was diagnosed with a cervical tumor and I was shocked when my doctor linked it directly to chemicals in the [maxi] pads I was using. Naturally, I knew I needed to make a change and when I couldn’t find an option that was clean and sustainable, I launched Femly.” —Arion Long, Founder and CEO, Femly
The $15,000 Winners
Greentop Gifts brings diversity to your celebrations through gift wrap, home decor, and apparel that features Black figures.
“If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that representation matters. People want to see themselves in the products that they use. It is important for children to see themselves in the books they read, the television shows they watch and even in their family tradition.”—Jacquelyn Rodgers, Founder, Greentop Gifts
“Our core mom is that first time mom; we want to solve that confusion of not knowing what you don’t know.” —Cecilia Pearson, Founder & CEO
Babypalooza equips new and expectant moms for motherhood through events, personalized monthly guides, community connection, and a product marketplace.
The $20,000 Winner
Goldmine & Coco is an online stationery and lifestyle brand where they sprinkle planners, accessories and apparel with Black Girl Magic so customers can make a powerful statement and plan for success.
“The pandemic gave us perspective. We had to change the way we produced our product. Everything we do now is done within five minutes of our location.”– Felicia Jarrell, CEO and Founder, Goldmine & Coco
Once again, the New Voices + Target Accelerators Pitch Competition helped showcase and build relationships that will support the growth, scale and visibility of women of color owned businesses. These 10 women of color entrepreneurs took full advantage of the opportunity with their well-presented pitches. If you missed the live stream, take a little time to watch it here so that you too can support these incredible businesses.
New Voices Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, is focused on providing flexible funding, learning and networking opportunities to women of color entrepreneurs via grants, mobile accelerators, coaching and online learning