Black Women Founders Receive $500 Checks at Philadelphia Juneteenth Celebration

Several female founders gathered at Coffee Cream & Dreams, a Black woman-owned coffee shop in the Fairmount neighborhood, for a speed mentoring and Juneteenth celebratory event hosted by Mom Your Business, an organization connecting female founders to resources and opportunities to help women “mom” a.k.a. “take care of” their business.

The event, known as Music Mentors & Munchies, was first launched in 2017 for National Mentoring Month and is normally held in January. This year; however, the event was held on June 18 to celebrate in tandem with Juneteenth. Moving forward, Music Mentors & Munchies will be a monthly event, according to Tanya T. Morris, the founder of Mom Your Business.

“We brought it back and will do it monthly because we want to continue to have deep engagement with our community,” Morris said. “Juneteenth is about freedom and the economic freedom that entrepreneurship provides is what we really want to have a conversation around.”

Attendees had the opportunity to receive on-the-spot business coaching and network with other Philadelphia-based entrepreneurs. Start-up stage business owners were also invited to participate in a pop-up pitch contest for a cash prize. Grants for the pitch contest were sponsored by the Dare to Imagine Church. Since December, Mom Your Business has given away over $150,000 in non-diluted capital. 

The attendees navigated around the intimate venue, coffee cups in hand, participating in a musical chair-like coaching activity for the first half of the afternoon. At her “Perfect Your Pitch” station, Morris heard elevator pitches and provided feedback to founders. Other stations included Know Your Customers, Idea To Startup, Selling and Telling, Sales and Marketing, and Operations.

In addition to Morris, four mentors were present: Stephanie Ford, owner of the event venue, Coffee Cream & Dreams; Darren Greenfield, COO of the Urban League of Philadelphia; Tiara Durham, ecosystem builder at Founders First Capital Partners; and David Ortiz, business development officer at True Access Capital.

Five women participated in the pitch contest and were given three minutes to present their business idea. Morris had four checks prepared but ended up awarding all participants $500 each. These are the winners:

  • Samara Andrieux is the founder of Fund Shine, a fintech company that works to disrupt the predatory payday industry. 
  • Amy Felix is the co-founder of TrackCE, a digital wallet for doctors and nurses to track their continuing education requirements mandatory for licenses and certifications.
  • Lola Oladapo is the co-founder of Urbanity Lush, an Airbnb, experiences and hospitality-lifestyle brand. 
  • Bessie Lee-Cappell is the founder of Baby Bottle Brush Bib, a unique baby product business.
  • LaToya Askew-Dover is the co-founder of Growing Leading Optimistic Women (GLOW), a non-profit women empowerment organization.

In creating this Juneteenth event, Morris wanted to highlight the role Black entrepreneurial women have played in history.

“When you look at the women of Black Wall Street … as well as those that helped to rebuild post the massacre, we thought that this would be a great opportunity to continue to shed light on the role of Black female entrepreneurs who, to this day, are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. Yet are the least funded and continue to find innovative ways to overcome so many obstacles and barriers that are part of everyday life,” Morris said.

Many of the founders who participated in the pitch contest have developed solution-based business models from their personal experiences.  

Felix, currently a nurse practitioner, has been a nurse for over 18 years and is licensed in three different states. From surveying her peers, she found that her subscription-based service would help medical professionals like herself who were frustrated with the process of renewing their licenses. The $500 she received is going to marketing efforts for TrackCE.

Lee-Cappell’s baby products come out of her own experience as a mother of three. While working as a social worker in Philadelphia, she had to breast pump during work hours and was frustrated with the “splash back” that would soil her clothing. She invented the brush bib which is a protective silicone barrier that goes around bottle brushes. The funding she received is also going toward marketing and SEO optimization for her website.

“Being in this business and being a minority, it’s a double-edged sword because I’m Black and I’m female, so trying to get additional funding and capital to scale the business has been difficult so today’s event has been amazing,” Lee-Cappell told The Plug. 

‍Approximately 90 percent of women-owned businesses are one-person entities, and initiatives and organizations like Mom Your Business aims to close the substantial financing gap for women entrepreneurs. The West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative has committed to providing the funding for the next pitch contest to be held during the July Music Mentors & Munchies event.

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