RI Black Business Association Business Gives Out Over $10,000 to Young Entrepreneurs

Providence, RI – May 10, 2022 –
The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses and professionals in RI, held a Young Adult Business Pitch Competition on April 30, 2022 at Sprout Co-Working in Providence, Rhode Island. Eight young adult entrepreneurs were invited to participate in the final pitch competition and were awarded over $10,000 in grant funds. The competition was open to individuals who live in Rhode Island, are Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color, and are aged 18-30. 

Upon arriving at the competition event, Lisa Ranglin, CEO of RIBBA, announced that they would be increasing the winning funds to $5,000 and that any business that did not place in the top three would also leave with a $500 grant for their business – amounting to $12,500 dispersed to participants.  

The following businesses received top recognition and between $2,000-$5,000 grants: 

  • 1st Place: MUSE LLC –  Toye Onikoyi and Larry Adigun 
  • 2nd Place: MBKBeauty – Khamry Varfley 
  • 3rd Place: Kerly Girl – Kerlyne Jean-Baptiste 

“When we heard of this opportunity it was a no brainer to apply to be a part, said Toye Onikoyi and Larry Adigun – 1st place winners of the competition. “I was already familiar with the work RIBBA does as I was introduced to them while in college. I knew our pitch was ready but didn’t expect anything and it was a surprise and uplifting to win first place and gracious of them to raise the prize winnings. Besides 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.” 

Each of the eight participants received training on how to create and present a business pitch prior to the final competition. The final winners were decided by three judges who are all entrepreneurs and small business leaders in the state. They assessed the participants on their idea, presentation, and overall business plan.

“As one of the first winners of RIBBA’s first competition, I understand what these young entrepreneurs were feeling,” said Victor Regino – competition judge and 2019 pitch winner. “I was on this exact stage pitching my liquor brand called Papi’s Coquito, ultimately winning startup funds to bring my business to the next level. RIBBA’s staff ensured all basics were covered and most importantly made sure these young business owners were prepared to give their presentations and knew the answers to all our questions. As a Small Business Liaison for the City of East Providence, I work with business owners every day, and I understand how difficult running a business can be without the proper foundation. RIBBA spends so much time and energy preparing and empowering young Black and brown entrepreneurs and they understand the importance of building up the community around them. This is why I’m confident they will all do well. Congratulations to Kerly Girl, MBK Beauty, and Muse Mirror!” 

Lisa Ranglin, RIBBA president stated, “Access to capital for this underserved population is very limited. We are offering RIBBA’s unique approach of combining access to capital with expert technical services to help them grow their businesses. Business formation is an effective way to decrease unemployment. In spite of reports of record low unemployment among minorities, October 2018 BLS household data showed black 18 year old youth at close to 20% unemployment with Latino youth at nearly 17% – about 30% higher than among white 18 year old youth. Minority youth up to age 30 are twice as likely as white youth to be unemployed.”   

RIBBA provides businesses with a vast array of business services – from access to funds, to training, and one-on-one business development. To learn more about these services, email smallbizhelp@ri-bba.org or call 401-383-1179.