Born to Lead-Business Highlight: Born-O Uniforms

RIBBA’s mission is made possible by a stellar community of businesses, staff, volunteers, and supporters. We’d like to place a spotlight on one of the members of this incredible network: Born-O Uniforms. 

Elisabeth Borno, CEO & Co-Founder of Born-O Uniforms, knew from an early age that she wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial path. During her childhood, she learned firsthand about the opportunities and challenges of business ownership as her parents, originally from Haiti, did this successfully, and in turn helped her to create a similar life vision. Knowing full well the dynamic journey of being an entrepreneur, Elisabeth’s mother encouraged her to have another formal career before venturing into business full time. Although her steps did not take her down this road immediately, she upheld the patience and tenacity to keep moving toward her dream despite obstacles along the way.  

As a survivor of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake and having experienced homelessness, Elisabeth is very familiar with overcoming adversity. Two of the most outstanding and consistent aspects of Elisabeth’s story are her unwavering commitment to her life’s vision, as well as her incredibly resilient and vibrant spirit. Three months after surviving the earthquake, Elisabeth’s parents made arrangements for her to attend nursing school in the Dominican Republic. It was during her time on the front lines of the nursing profession that she found her passion and witnessed a need for increased access to high quality medical resources. After considering how she could combine her passion for serving her community and giving back with ensuring appropriate access to quality medical resources, Elisabeth co-founded Born-O Uniforms along with her husband, Yves, in 2018.  

An advocate for mental health and equity, Elisabeth incorporates these causes into her work every day. For her customers, she ensures that medical professionals have the appropriate attire and resources to focus on their work rather than stressing about how to prepare. For her staff, she supports and mentors team members from various backgrounds, experiences, and skillsets in order to help facilitate understanding and empathy for the customer community. What sets Born-O Uniforms apart from other similar businesses is a close-knit, family feeling among customers and a focus on price, comfort, and quality. Elisabeth, Yves, and their team make it their mission to provide ready-made medical resources for their customers. This includes uniforms of all sizes that are wrinkle-free, soil resistant, and anti-microbial as well as stethoscopes, bags, badge reels, and other accessories to facilitate safety and comfort and lessen the burden on this community. 

Despite Elisabeth’s resiliency and steadfast commitment, she has faced challenges as an entrepreneur, and particularly as a business owner that identifies as a woman of color. Elisabeth, along with many other BIPOC business owners, faces questions of competency, limited access to resources, and fewer opportunities to advance and grow a network. According to Elisabeth, the key to making entrepreneurship more equitable is to “eliminate bias first” and then all else will follow. It is for these reasons among others that organizations like RIBBA are so essential to the success and growth of BIPOC owned businesses like Born-O Uniforms. Elisabeth and Born-O have received a myriad of services from RIBBA including grants, loans, capacity building and operational services, and marketing assistance. Elisabeth is grateful to RIBBA for making the journey of being a business owner much smoother as Born-O navigates their next phase and experiences growth at a fast pace.  

As Born-O Uniforms moves forward in their trajectory as a business, increased and aligned funding sources will be key to success. The team has already proven themselves and their business model to be effective, which continues to be evident as they grow. For example, the team is currently hard at work on a brand re-vamp and launch of new products that they are very excited about. Elisabeth admits it is not an easy path to manage a business, particularly because you can’t “check out”; but rather, you are always thinking about how to make your business better and considering its progress. With this in mind, her mantra is “If you’re running and it feels like too much, you can walk”, or, adjust your strategy or task to match your energy until you are ready to go back to where you started. To rising entrepreneurs, Elisabeth advises “don’t give up”; and in business and in life, she never has. As a business owner, family woman, nurse, student, recent graduate, and military personnel, Elisabeth holds many different roles. She is a firm believer that when challenges happen, it is critical to find a way to turn them into the best outcome possible as well as to use your story and what happens to you to become resilient and build yourself up. That is her story, and we hope, along with Elisabeth, that it will be the story of many rising entrepreneurs of diverse backgrounds. With continued support of businesses like Born-O and organizations like RIBBA, it will continue to be a reality. 

 

For more information about Born-O Uniforms, please visit: https://www.bornouniforms.com/ 

For more information about RIBBA, please visit: https://ri-bba.org/  

About the author: Stephanie Mireku is RIBBA’s volunteer Content Writer and works with businesses, volunteers, and community members to highlight their and RIBBA’s work. Her passion for writing of all kinds, and background in English and Business Administration fueled her interest in combining these areas through the Content Writer role. Stephanie first became involved with RIBBA through the LEAP Mentoring program as a mentee in the 2021 cohort. She is enthusiastic about relationship building, mission centric creativity, social impact, and philanthropy, and puts this into action through various outlets including her work as an Assistant Director of Alumni Relations at Providence College.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIBBA & URI Announce Launch of Emerging Leaders Development Program for BIPOC Leaders

RIBBA is now accepting participants for the fall 2021 Emerging Leaders Development Program Pilot   

Providence, RI – Wednesday, June 2, 2021 – Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) and its charitable arm that focuses on empowerment and training related activities – the Institute of Economic Empowerment & Development (IEED), announce the launch of the Emerging Leaders Development Program. The 6-month leadership program prepares high-performing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & People of Color) professionals for advancement into senior leadership and executive roles while raising their visibility as a force within their organization and community. The program will be delivered by RIBBA in partnership with the University of Rhode Island Office of Strategic Initiatives. 

The development of this program took place over the course of two years and was accomplished through state-wide surveys, interviews, leadership program assessments, and data on the state of diversity in business. The 6-month leadership program is designed to provide BIPOC participants with the additional knowledge, leadership skills and tools that they will need to take their career to the next level. The fall 2021 pilot cohort will begin in September through February 2022 and will include in-residence training, speakers, volunteer opportunities, and mentor/sponsor opportunities. The in-residence training will be a hybrid-model and will take place at the University of Rhode Island’s Providence Campus.  

“As a Black woman who has worked in corporate America for the past two decades, I know the challenges of being the only person of color in the room and the lack of career advancement support received,” said Lisa Ranglin – Executive Director of the Rhode Island Black Business Association. “We’re grateful to URI for joining forces with us to take on this important program. I’m excited to be involved with the development and implementation of this pilot that will provide BIPOC emerging professionals with a blueprint to advocate for themselves and move from a supporting role into the ranks of leadership through targeted and intentional efforts designed to empower, support, and advance through all phases of their career trajectory.”  

“The URI Office of Strategic Initiatives is excited to partner with the Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) and the Institute of Economic Empowerment & Development (IEED) on programming for emerging BIPOC leaders. Together we will enhance participant competencies in leadership best practices, strategic thinking, leading through change and communication, all with an eye towards diversity, equity and inclusion, self-awareness, emotional intelligence and a strengths based approach.” 

To participate in the program, please contact amanda@ri-bba.org or go to the Emerging Leaders Development Program page for more details on the program, logistics, and pricing.    

The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses in Rhode Island through access to capital, contracting, business development resources, entrepreneur training, business advocacy, meaningful investor services, and workforce development. 

The Institute for Economic Empowerment & Development (IEED) is the charitable arm of the Rhode Island Black Business Association. IEED provides education and access opportunities to individuals throughout their academic and career journeys. 

The University of Rhode Island Office of Strategic Initiatives strengthens organizations through customized workplace trainings and initiatives and for-credit programs, which leads to a stronger, more vital economy. Our programs help businesses, professionals and students tap into the power and opportunity of the University of Rhode Island. Working with you as a partner, we get to know you and design custom programs based on your particular business needs. We function as consultants, organizational developers, coaches, trainers, curriculum designers, thought partners, strategic planners, and program evaluators. We’re there from initial consultation through implementation and evaluation of whatever plan we co-create. Let us help you succeed! For more information, please visit https://web.uri.edu/osi/. 

 

May 2021 Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://conta.cc/3eIrxUc

Power of the Pivot – CC Business Corporation Profile

Photo by Leo Selvaggio, RIBBA Volunteer Photographer

RIBBA’s mission is made possible by a stellar community of businesses, staff, volunteers, and supporters. We’d like to place a spotlight on one of the members of this incredible network: C.C. Business Corporation.

Marcellus Sharpe, Owner and President of CC Business Corporation, a business focusing on security services, office cleaning services, knows personally what it means to build, grow and adapt even when it’s uncomfortable or unpopular. This is a key ingredient for success in the world of business. Sharpe grew up in the Providence, RI area and spent some time between other locations such as Virginia, as he moved forward in the workforce, trying different jobs. As Marcellus did not attend college, it was very important to him to pursue other avenues of education and training and tapped into his strong sense of self-motivation to help him with this. In 1984, Marcellus officially embarked on the business owner path and started C.C. Business Corporation. These efforts paid off as he completed programs such as SCORE, through the SBDC, and started to pave the way toward notable leadership in business. A notable moment along this path included his receipt of the District Director Special Achievement Award from the Small Business Administration (SBA) in 1995.

Photo by Leo Selvaggio, RIBBA Volunteer Photographer

Although Marcellus experienced success early on in his career, he didn’t go without weathering some challenges as well. A key event that propelled Marcellus forward into stepping out into entrepreneurship was when he lost a job within the cleaning industry that he had held for three years as a young professional. Another key to success in business is building a network and having meaningful and intentional conversations—something that Marcellus exemplified from the beginning of his career. When he was transitioning out of the company as result of job loss, he was committed to developing a solid plan, and had a pivotal conversation with the owner about his interest in starting a business. He received helpful recommendations such as: starting without partners to hold onto more equity, and begin with low overhead and startup costs to accelerate growth. This conversation led to the beginning of a mentoring relationship, to which Marcellus credits a lot of his success.

Some things that set C.C. Business Corporation apart include the relatively small size of the business (est. 40+ clients at a time) and personalization of the high quality customer service experience. It is important to Marcellus and C.C. Business Corporation to receive, address, and incorporate feedback about issues as soon as possible, which is something they take pride in. Marcellus and C.C. Business Corporation are committed to high quality process, results and experience, which does become challenging due to barriers such as hiring the most committed, competent, and skilled workers. Marcellus attributes the gap in finding the right talent within the security industry to a lack of adequate training for people to pursue this avenue. On the other hand, what does allow people to persevere in business despite challenges according to Marcellus is, physical and mental strength. In his own life and experience of running a business for over 37 years, he has experienced closed doors, a changing business landscape, increased barriers to success, and bureaucracy, but tenacity and determination along with the right resources, work ethic, and support have kept him on this path. One example of this is the resilience of the business structure amidst the pandemic. As Marcellus has previously learned the importance of diversifying business offerings and services, this was particularly helpful during the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, as they pivoted away from office cleaning, and stayed solely with Security Guard and patrol services as this area grew increasingly complex during this challenging time.

No one achieves and sustains success in business without the right combination of support and resources. Marcellus is no stranger to this truth. In his years of being within the RIBBA network, he has received services including loans, marketing consultant & content development, legal consultant, financial consultant, collateral support loan program, all of which RIBBA is proud to make possible for many businesses in the network, in addition to other services and opportunities. Some advice that Marcellus offers for emerging and aspiring entrepreneurs is: demonstrate tenacity, find a mentor, you’re only as good as your last day’s work, there is no substitute for experience, and remember to work “on” your business, not “in” your business. As he turns the corner toward 40 years in business, his current focus is on continuing to strengthen the foundation and structure of the business, particularly in areas such as hiring and marketing, for the next phase of growth as he considers what his own next steps will entail and as he approaches the retirement season of his career.

Mr. Sharpe, along with RIBBA, is committed to and passionate about advancing equity and access within entrepreneurship and seeing an increased number of BIPOC owned businesses in the state continue to grow and shine. According to Marcellus, this will require commitment from the top down and from leadership of various industries and organizations. We are grateful for the commitment, leadership, and vision of entrepreneurs like Marcellus Sharpe that makes the work of RIBBA continue to expand and reach as many people as possible.

For more information about CC Business Corporation, please visit: http://www.ccbusinesscorp.com/index_security.php

For more information about RIBBA, please visit: https://ri-bba.org/

About the author: Stephanie Mireku is RIBBA’s volunteer Content Writer and works with businesses, volunteers, and community members to highlight their and RIBBA’s work. Her passion for writing of all kinds, and background in English and Business Administration fueled her interest in combining these areas through the Content Writer role. Stephanie first became involved with RIBBA through the LEAP Mentoring program as a mentee in the 2021 cohort. She is enthusiastic about relationship building, mission centric creativity, social impact, and philanthropy, and puts this into action through various outlets including her work as an Assistant Director of Alumni Relations at Providence College.

 

 

Opinion/Ranglin: Now’s the time for investment that works for all of us

COVID-19 has laid bare the racism that has always existed throughout the US and right here in Rhode Island. For 400 plus years, Black Americans have been shut out of accessing the essential resources and opportunities needed to reach their full potential.

The Rhode Island Black Business Association has continued to work tirelessly since our inception 10 years ago to create a more equitable business environment.  RIBBA helps businesses and professional with access to capital, contracting, business development resources, entrepreneur training, advocacy, and workforce development.  RIBBA, like other Black-owned or led small businesses, has been undercapitalized to the detriment of the Black and brown business communities.

Read Full Article Online

April 2021 Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://conta.cc/3mNG1Vp

Business Highlight: “All About the Hustle” – All About the Look Eyelash Studio Profile

RIBBA’s mission is made possible by a stellar community of businesses, staff, volunteers, and supporters. We’d like to place a spotlight on one of the members of this incredible network: All About the Look Eyelash Studio.

The story of All About the Look Eyelash Studio is one of four letter Gs: grit, grace, grind, and growth. Hollee Freeman-Nunes, owner of the studio, is a woman with an honorable mission, an admirable resiliency, and an unwavering commitment. Hollee’s journey to entrepreneurship is equal parts unique and inspiring. Despite always having an interest in cosmetology, she began her career in K-12 education, and specifically inclusion; having a background in Special Education, Multicultural Education, and English as a Second Language (ESL), and served as a teacher for over 20 years. While teaching at Hanley Career & Technical Center toward the end of her teaching career, Hollee worked directly with students in the Cosmetology program, where her interest in this field continued to grow as she saw her passion in action with the students. Despite some resistance from others along the way and questions about the viability of cosmetology as a career path, Hollee pushed forward, with some personal encouragement to open an eyelash studio despite not having a formal business background.

All About the Look Eyelash Studio is all about empowerment and confidence. Hollee, together with her daughter, Geiana, and family friend, Carolina, have not only weathered the storm of Covid-19 as a relatively new business, but also have found ways to innovate and create community within the industry. Services offered by All About the Look include: eyelash extensions, lifts, and tints, brow shaping, microblading, and tinting, facial treatment, collagen induction treatment, chemical peel, microdermabrasion, body waxing, full face makeup, and temporary tattoos. Some of the aspects that set them apart from other similar businesses include the educational component (lash class), and attention to detail whether it is innovating their existing craft, prioritizing cleanliness, and sharing educational opportunities. At this point in their trajectory, All About the Look Eyelash Studio is focused on strengthening their foundation and resources in order to move into the next phase of growth which could include expanding staff, services, and scope.

Although All About the Look has made a name and reputation for itself, they have faced and continue to face some significant challenges. Covid-19 has unfortunately shaken the foundation of many small businesses, and All About the Look is not exempt from this. From a decrease in customer patronization, to a need to shift elements such as capacity and protocol in order to comply with local and regional guidelines, to increased competition and decreased resources, All About the Look Eyelash Studio has had to seek additional support, take some risks, and redefine success in this unprecedented time.

It takes a special kind of person and a unique type of place to be the business owner, and business, respectively that can weather a storm of this level. One aspect of many that particularly shines about Hollee and her studio is a combination of brave and deep honesty, as well as courageous and inspiring hope. Hollee is not a stranger to resistance and growth mindset as having been an educator for over 2 decades, and that foundation has served her well along with her commitment to and passion for the field of cosmetology. Her relatability, authenticity, drive, and talent come across in all that she does. Her advice to emerging and prospective entrepreneurs, even as she charters new territory, is to “be ready to make mistakes, it’s ok if you go backwards for a time, if it’s time to let go, do so, and don’t overthink but just do it”. Not only does she say it, but she lives it—the only way to know is to try just as the only way to gain is to risk. Although there are some things she has had to learn in practice along the way, it is clear that Hollee leads with purpose and acts with intention, all with the welfare of her team, customers, and community in mind. In fact, another aspiration that Hollee has is to find a way to serve formerly incarcerated women by helping them re-enter the workforce equipped with an updated wardrobe. It nicely complements the mission of All About the Look Eyelash Studio, which is to: “We promise to efficiently and safely take care of all your aesthetic needs with our knowledge and our expertise!” To Hollee, and to All About the Look Eyelash Studio, giving back is a priority.

As Hollee and All About the Look Eyelash Studio navigate this next stage of growth and development, some areas that are of priority include financial support, operational strength, capacity building, and network development. Fortunately, these are all areas that RIBBA specializes in with regard to business and community development, and Hollee looks forward to further collaboration with the Association. As a member of the Advocacy and Policy Committee, and as a business owner in the RIBBA network, Hollee is active in both helping build and benefit from the advocacy, investment, and development that RIBBA is committed to everyday with respect to businesses in the Ocean State, and particularly those owned and operated by members of marginalized communities.

To learn more about Hollee, and All About the Look Eyelash Studio, please visit their webpage.

To learn more about RIBBA, and how to get involved, please visit our webpage.

About the author: Stephanie Mireku is RIBBA’s volunteer Content Writer and works with businesses, volunteers, and community members to highlight their and RIBBA’s work. Her passion for writing of all kinds, and background in English and Business Administration fueled her interest in combining these areas through the Content Writer role. Stephanie first became involved with RIBBA through the LEAP Mentoring program as a mentee in the 2021 cohort. She is enthusiastic about relationship building, mission centric creativity, social impact, and philanthropy, and puts this into action through various outlets including her work as an Assistant Director of Alumni Relations at Providence College.

RIBBA Launches ‘Leadership Speaker Series’ to Commemorate 10 Years in Business

Series will launch with a ‘The State of Rhode Island’s Black Economy & Business’ panel event on Tuesday, April 27th from 6-7:30 pm

Providence, RI – April 13, 2021 – The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA), a 10 year-old non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned businesses in RI, announces a virtual event series to commemorate the important role RIBBA has played in supporting and growing Rhode Island’s Black businesses over the last 10 years. The series will bring together outstanding leaders from the private, government and nonprofit sectors to discuss economic recovery and development.

The series will launch with a panel event on Tuesday, April 27th from 6-7:30 pm on ‘The State of Rhode Island’s Black Economy & Business’. The panel will discuss the Black-American recovery and the importance of Black business development efforts.

The panel will offer insight from the following economic, business, and investment experts:

  • Melissa Husband: RI Deputy Secretary of State/Director of Administration – RI Department of State
  • Anthony Rust: Impact Fund Manager, BEI Business Equity Fund; Chair of the Investment Committee, Warren Wilson College
  • R. Anthony Rolle: Dean, Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies – University of Rhode Island
  • Angela Ankoma: Vice President Executive Director of Equity Leadership – Rhode Island Foundation
  • Moderator: Robin Gibbs: Regional Director, Office of International Advancement – Brown University; Board of Director Member at RIBBA

RIBBA’s vision is to create a more equitable business environment where all businesses and professionals can grow and thrive. Their founding, in March of 2011, came after community and local leaders mobilized to tackle issues affecting small businesses in underserved cities. This group conducted both community input sessions and random sampling to fully understand the gaps and priorities for effectively fostering minority small business efforts. RIBBA has worked over the last 10 years to provide Black and minority businesses with access to capital, contracting, business development resources, entrepreneur training, business advocacy, meaningful investor services, and workforce development.

“We are proud to launch the Leadership Speaker Series with a panel event highlighting the future of the Black Economy, the role Black businesses can play in the economic recovery, and the need for a transparent and equitable playing field,” said Lisa Ranglin – Executive Director of RIBBA. “Black businesses are the backbone of the Black community, but for far too long have had minimal access to investment and opportunity due to historic oppression and structural racism.”

To register for the event, click here. To learn more about RIBBA membership, programs, or services, contact amanda@ri-bba.org.

About RIBBA The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses in Rhode Island through access to capital, contracting, business development resources, entrepreneur training, business advocacy, meaningful investor services, and workforce development.

Our vision is to create a more equitable and sustainable business environment in Rhode Island. Our purpose is to leverage the region’s core assets to find solutions in the areas that matter most to the business and community: quality jobs, quality growth, and quality of life for all.

Rhode Island Black Business Association Receives $50,000 Donation from Partnership for Rhode Island

Funds celebrate RIBBA’s 10 year anniversary and mark a greater investment in supporting organizations that promote racial equity

Providence, RI March 31, 2021.  The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA), a 10 year-old non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned businesses in RI, is pleased to announce a charitable contribution in the amount of $50,000 from Partnership for Rhode Island. This commitment follows Partnership for Rhode Island’s commitment to increasing racial equity and opportunity in the state and will be used to increase RIBBA’s overall program and service delivery capacity.

RIBBA has worked over the last 10 years to create a more equitable business environment in Rhode Island through access to capital, contracting, business development resources, entrepreneur training, advocacy, meaningful investor services, and workforce development. COVID-19 eliminated 41% of Black-owned businesses nationwide (Federal Reserve Bank of New York; August 2020). This loss has demonstrated an urgent need for investment in Black businesses.

The Partnership for RI funding follows a $50,000 donation from the Rhode Island Foundation, a member of the Partnership for RI, in December of 2020. This greater investment in RIBBA comes on the heels of a national reckoning that structural racism exists and holds back many Black and brown communities from achieving access to opportunity and economic prosperity.

“This generous donation from Partnership for Rhode Island signifies a confidence in RIBBA’s historic and groundbreaking work over the last 10 years,” said Lisa Ranglin – Executive Director of RIBBA. “COVID-19 has been completely devastating for Black and brown communities and the time to act is now. This investment provides us with the ability to grow and have greater impact in the communities we serve through programs and services that scale businesses, create jobs, advance careers, and improve over-all economic health.  We thank the Partnership for Rhode Island for their support!”

“We are excited by the growth and mission of RIBBA and hope that our support, and their continued impact statewide, will encourage others to recommit to a more equitable and sustainable business environment in Rhode Island,” said Tom Giordano – Executive Director of The Partnership for Rhode Island.

To learn more about RIBBA’s programs, services, or to contribute, go to www.ri-bba.org or contact amanda@ri-bba.org.

 

About RIBBA The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses in Rhode Island through access to capital, contracting, business development resources, entrepreneur training, business advocacy, meaningful investor services, and workforce development.

Our vision is to create a more equitable and sustainable business environment in Rhode Island. Our purpose is to leverage the region’s core assets to find solutions in the areas that matter most to the business and community: quality jobs, quality growth, and quality of life for all.

About Partnership for Rhode Island

The Partnership for Rhode Island is a non-profit, 501c4 organization focused on making Rhode Island a better place to live, work, learn and do business. Led by Tom Giordano, the Partnership has, the four years since its founding, has investment millions in public-private partnerships, hired tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders and has scaled programs in K-12, workforce development, energy infrastructure and business attraction. Founded at the urging of former Governor Raimondo, this active group has tackled some of the largest issues facing our state such as the turnaround of Providence Public School District, Covid-19 related unemployment to clean energy goals.