Rhode Island Black Business Association awards $10,000 to young entrepreneurs


From left to right: Amalfi Rosario from Healthcare Connect LLC, Zara Salmon from Crave Infused LLC, Khamry Varfley from MBKBeauty, Linsay Alcindor from Digital Bizz Management LLC, Kerlyne Jean – Baptiste from KerlyGirl LLC, Rocky Douglas from Rocky’s Root Care Toye Onikoyi and Muyideem “Larry” Adigun of Muse LLC. Photograph by Anthony Abu.

On April 30, eight promising entrepreneurs appeared before the Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing opportunities for minority-owned businesses and professionals in the state, to express their point of view within the framework of the association. Business presentation contest for young adults. Open to Black, Native, and Rhode Island people of color ages eighteen to thirty, each of the attendees received training on how to deliver a business pitch before the big day. Yet what they didn’t know before was that the stakes were much more generous than they had originally anticipated. Upon arriving at Sprout Co-Working in Providence for the event, RIBBA CEO Lisa Ranglin announced that the winning funds would be increased to $5,000 and any business that did not place would still receive grants of $500. $ each, totaling $10,000 in total.

After being evaluated on their ideas, pitches and overall business plans, three companies were awarded by a panel of judges made up of local entrepreneurs and small business leaders. Toye Onikoyi and Larry Adigun of MUSE LLC, a company that creates and sells a state-of-the-art interactive mirror (read more on our blog here), came in first, followed closely by Khamry Varfley of MBKBeauty, a vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics company. towards animals. , in second and Kerlyne Jean Baptiste of KerlyGirl, a natural plant-based hair care brand, in third.


Photograph by Anthony Abu.

“When we heard about this opportunity, it was obvious to apply to be part,” Onikoyi said after placing first in the competition. “I already knew about RIBBA’s work because I was introduced to them during my university studies. I knew our pitch was ready but I didn’t expect anything and it was a surprise and uplifting to win first place and gracious of them to increase the earnings. In addition to winning, we were able to meet other entrepreneurs and expand our ever-growing network. We look forward to using the money for marketing purposes as well as inventory expenses. »

Victor Regino, one of the judges and winner of the 2019 pitch, knew exactly how the participants felt during the process and couldn’t have been happier with the results.

“I was on that exact stage showcasing my liquor brand called Papi’s Coquito, eventually earning seed money to take my business to the next level,” he said. “The RIBBA staff made sure all the bases were covered and most importantly made sure these young business owners were ready to give their presentations and knew the answers to all our questions. Small Business Liaison for the City of East Providence, I work with business owners every day and understand how difficult it can be to run a business without the proper basics RIBBA dedicates so much time and “energy to prepare and empower young black and brown entrepreneurs and they understand the importance of building the community around them. This is why I am confident that they will all do well. Congratulations to Kerly Girl, MBK Beauty and Muse Mirror!


Photograph by Anthony Abu.

As CEO of RIBBA, Ranglin knows firsthand how limited access to capital resources can be for underserved populations. This is a driving factor behind competitions like this.

“We offer RIBBA’s unique approach of combining access to capital with expert technical services to help them grow their businesses,” she said. “Business creation is an effective way to reduce unemployment. Despite reports of record unemployment among minorities, BLS household data from October 2018 showed that black eighteen-year-olds had an unemployment rate of nearly 20% and that Latino youth were at almost 17%, about 30% higher than eighteen-year-old white youth. youth. Minority youth up to age 30 are twice as likely as white youth to be unemployed.

The RIBBA offers companies a wide range of business services, including access to funds, training and individual business development. To learn more about the contest, the winners, and the mission of the Rhode Island Black Business Association, visit ri-bba.org.


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