9 Newark-based entrepreneurs received coaching to develop their business pitches ahead of the Brunch Pitch Competition.
May 3rd, 2022- Newark, NJ – Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation (GNEC) partnered with Brunch Pitch to allow Newark-based entrepreneurs to develop and practice their business pitches. This platform enables Black entrepreneurs across the spectrum the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of industry judges. The pitch competition targeted startups, mom-and-pops, and the everyday Newark entrepreneur.
After weeks of coaching from Tasmere Gathers, founder of Brunch Pitch and The DM Firm, nine Newark-based entrepreneurs pitched their business to 6 industry professionals for an opportunity to receive constructive feedback to create actionable next steps and win cash prizes. The Brunch Pitch participants and judges were split into two rooms for the first round of speed pitching. Each participant had five minutes to pitch to three of the six judges; the top five scoring pitchers were selected to pitch again on the main stage to all six judges.
The winner, with the prize of $1,000, was awarded to Kevin Celisca, founder of Integrate School, which helps admins and teachers to save time on the lesson planning process by making it easier to create, share, and provide feedback on lesson plans while mapping them to state standards and curriculum.
"This process benefitted me and the business by helping me to fine tune my pitch and make it more compelling which will increase my chances of obtaining more investment", states Kevin. "This event is important for entrepreneurs of color because the Brunch Pitch allows them to experience what it feels like to pitch in front of investors and audience members in a live environment. Next year I hope my business can be sustainable through sales to the point where investment is an option, and not a need."
The second-place prize of $750 was awarded to Kemani Nix, owner of Envir Clean. This company offers customized cleaning services and programs specific to their needs, such as Covid-19 disinfection, mold remediation, water damage restoration, commercial & residential cleaning, and more.
“The competition helped me turn my industry and business knowledge into a concise pitch that will serve as the foundation for all my successive pitches. We hope to generate $280,000 in business next year, expanding our team to 10 employees. The competition has given me the confidence to speak to anyone about my business comfortably, in any setting," states Kemani.
The third-place prize of $500 was awarded to Cashem Lateif Holland, founder of Financial Boss, an organization that educates, empowers, and elevates young people in the matter of financial literacy.
"The overall experience was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! I met great people who I hope to collaborate with in the near future," states Cashem. "Often there are requirements that need to be met that entrepreneurs of color are unable to fulfill. Additionally, some BIPOC entrepreneurs do not receive the assistance needed to pitch effectively. Brunch Pitch is so important for entrepreneurs of color because of the individual consultation and feedback provided and the low barriers to entry for the pitch competition."
GNEC is always looking to partner with organizations that support the growth of small businesses of color. To learn more about how you, as a small business owner of color in Newark, can obtain a business loan and technical assistance, visit the Entrepreneur of Color Fund page.
Business and Philanthropic Leaders Announce New Philanthropic Capital to Spur Minority Business Growth, Tackle Racial Wealth Gap in Newark
New program launching to drive inclusive growth for business owners of color
February 17, 2022 – NEWARK, NJ – Today, the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund (EOCF) is launching in Newark to support diverse-led small businesses and accelerate their opportunities for growth. The EOCF is a national program launched in 2015 to bridge gaps that have historically constrained growth for diverse-led businesses. Through a collective commitment of $1.7 million, JPMorgan Chase, The Rockefeller Foundation and Prudential Financial are expanding the EOCF’s footprint to Newark and partnering with Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation (GNEC) and LISC Greater Newark to help local entrepreneurs of color increase their access to capital, coaching and technical assistance.
These funders are working together to support the expansion of the EOCF in Newark where 71 percent of small businesses are owned by entrepreneurs of color. Despite this representation, systemic barriers to accessing capital remains a challenge in Newark and nationwide for minority business owners. According to a Federal Reserve System 2021 report, 24 percent of Black-owned businesses receive financing compared to 48 percent for White-owned business.
The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the situation where a City of Newark business survey found that Newark small businesses experienced $60 million to $100 million in lost consumer spending since the pandemic began. The expansion of the EOCF to Newark will generate $1.7 million in loans to 50 small businesses and create 500 hours of technical assistance programming, strengthening the city’s ongoing network of support for local entrepreneurs.
“Newark holds tremendous opportunity for businesses, particularly small and medium size ones, and it is imperative that we provide diverse business owners with access to the tools and resources that will help them grow,” said John Bonhomme, managing director and regional director for JPMorgan Chase’s Consumer Bank in New Jersey. “The Entrepreneurs of Color Fund has unlocked capital and created hundreds of jobs around the country, and we’re excited that Newark small businesses will have the same chance to succeed.”
Through the EOCF Newark, GNEC and LISC Greater Newark will provide loans to small and mid-size businesses that can be used to hire staff, buy equipment or vehicles, pay for renovations, or stock up on inventory. Beyond the capital, GNEC and LISC Greater Newark will provide technical assistance and advice on a range of topics including marketing, merchandising, accounting, website design and maintenance, or licensing.
“Prudential is proud to welcome the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund to Newark,” said Sarah Keh, vice president, Inclusive Solutions, Prudential. “Entrepreneurs of color in our headquarters city have told us they need quality loans and a network of support to grow, offer quality employment, and generate financial security for their employees and their communities. The EOCF Newark answers that call at a critical time.”
The EOCF Newark is supporting local small business owners like Florence Dennis, founder of Flows Tasty Treats, with flexible, accommodating loans to grow her already thriving business. The company aims to bring visibility to African cuisine through snacking. The entrepreneur began selling her flagship product “Toasted Corn and Peanut Mix” in a few grocery stores, and now Ms. Dennis is recognized as a fast-growing small business leader in New Jersey.
"In our 17 years of service, we have always believed that entrepreneurs who leverage the limited resources available to them are the ones who ultimately succeed," states Victor Salama, GNEC executive director. "GNEC is not only providing financial support but an opportunity that builds generational wealth."
“The Rockefeller Foundation understands that opportunity in the United States is not equally distributed, especially when it comes to communities of color,” said Gregory Johnson, managing director for the Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Our commitment to EOCF is a reflection of our deep belief that to make strides in closing the racial wealth gap, we must break down barriers to capital and credit access to Black and Latinx small businesses.”
Originally launched in Detroit in 2015, the EOCF operates through a network of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and funders to provide underserved entrepreneurs with capital and technical support. To date, the EOCF has provided more than 1,200 loans and deployed more than $43 million in capital to Black, Latino and other underserved entrepreneurs in Detroit, the Bay Area, New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C, and Los Angeles.
“We’ve seen the value of these small business investments throughout the country and the way that they help bridge capital gaps facing thousands of diverse entrepreneurs,” said Jorge Cruz, executive director of LISC Greater Newark, the local arm of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which manages the national EOCF program. “The EOCF approach helps strengthen our local infrastructure of small businesses, expand employment, grow local incomes and build intergenerational wealth. It breaks down racial barriers to opportunity in ways that make our city and our economy work better for everyone.”
Newark businesses interested in learning more about EOCF financing and services should visit https://www.gnecorp.org/entrepreneurs-of-color-fund-newark.html.