RIBBA Seeks Nominations for Awards Gala

2022 Annual Report

RIBBA 2022 Annual Report

The Rhode Island Black Business Association announces the Presenting Sponsor and Keynote Speaker for its Annual Meeting.

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RIBBA New Building Announcement

Senators Reed and Whitehouse, Mayor Elorza, and Rhode Island Foundation Announce Investment in New Headquarters for Rhode Island Black Business Association

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined Lisa Ranglin, Founder, President & CEO of the Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA), United States Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Neil Steinberg, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, Keith Stokes, Providence Director of Business and Development and community members, to announce the acquisition of an office building located at 220 Smith Street, Providence.  The property will serve as RIBBA’s new headquarters as well as an Equity Business Hub.

“The purchase of these new offices is both an investment in our organization’s future and our community. The hard work and commitment of our staff, board of directors, partners, and members allowed us to make this acquisition from a position of growth and strength,” said Lisa Ranglin. “We are excited about what this means for our members and community.”

In addition to being RIBBA’s new headquarters, the 4,300-square-foot Equity Business Hub will offer co-working space and a state-of-the-art training facility for members and partners. “We see this as a great resource for local small businesses to lay down roots for success in the community,” said Lisa Ranglin.

The acquisition of the office building officially closed on Monday, October 31, 2022. RIBBA is projected to move in Spring 2023.

“As evidenced by the findings and recommendations of our Municipal Reparations Commission, we know that building wealth and equity through home and business ownership is essential for closing the racial wealth and equity gap in Providence,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “The City of Providence is proud to provide these funds to help make this new headquarters and hub possible. I know that RIBBA will advance incredible work in this space, and I thank our federal delegation and the Rhode Island Foundation for their partnership.” 

The purchase was made possible through a $500,000 Congressional Directed Spending request secured by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. In addition, the City of Providence and the Rhode Island Foundation each provided $137,500 of funding to support the acquisition and expected buildout. Senator Jack Reed secured an additional $1,000,000 which will be used to expand, deepen, and strengthen RIBBA’s programming, services and outreach.  

Founded in 2011, RIBBA has become an established presence and force in the Rhode Island community. RIBBA has been a firm and consistent voice advocating for equity, diversity and inclusion for all individuals. 

The Rhode Island Black Business Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses in Rhode Island through business development resources, one-on-one business counseling, certification assistance, business advocacy, mentorship, trainings, workforce development and access to capital.

To give towards the new Equity Business Hub and buildout, click here.


RIBBA’s Annual Awards Gala will take place on Friday, October 28th and recognize influential leaders in Rhode Island; tickets now available

September 12, 2022, Providence, Rhode Island – The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) is delighted to announce its Annual Awards Gala scheduled for Friday, October 28, 2022 at the Omni Providence Hotel, 1 West Exchange St, Providence, Rhode Island. Our Annual Gala is our biggest fundraising event, and we are excited to see everyone again after a 2-year absence due to Covid-19. The Gala begins at 6PM. with cocktails, followed by sit-down dinner and entertainment from 7 to 11PM. Our Mistress of Ceremonies this year will be the five-time Emmy nominated Barbara Morse, anchor for NBC News at Noon and Health Check reporter. The evening will also include an awards presentation, keynote speech, and entertainment.

Our Annual Gala is a prestigious, nominated awards program, recognizing individuals who exhibit excellence in leadership, professional achievement, and a heart for giving back to our community. The award recipients have a demonstrated desire towards diversity and inclusion, and have made a contribution to the economic and community development in our state. The Gala is the organization’s largest annual fundraising event, attracting attendees from across the state, including business owners, corporate leaders, professionals, state and elected representatives. Attendees will enjoy the opportunity to network during the cocktail hour and the dinner. A silent auction will take place throughout the evening, with all proceeds benefiting RIBBA’s Scholarship Fund, which helps make college dreams come true for some of Rhode Island most deserving students.

The theme for this year’s Gala is “Resiliency Through Transformative Action.” In addition, donations support community/small business development, job creation, financial literacy, and professional advancement programs. When you sponsor, purchase tickets/ads or reserve a VIP table, you are supporting the critical work RIBBA continues to champion.

This year’s keynote address will be delivered by Neil Steinberg, President and CEO of The Rhode Island Foundation. The organization works to address the needs of Rhode Island’s diverse communities through philanthropy, grant writing, and community leadership. With assets of approximately $1.4 billion, the organization raised $98 million and distributed $76 million in grants in 2021.

Founded in 2011, RIBBA has become an established presence and force in the Rhode Island community. RIBBA has been a firm and consistent voice advocating for equity, diversity and inclusion for all of us. Our programmatic focus has been on the development and growth of minority businesses. RIBBA has evolved, and our work continues to have real impact. Your participation in this event will bolster much needed resources to continue to raise awareness, elevate the conversations, and improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders.

The recipients of RIBBAs 2022 Awards Program are being honored for their achievements of exceptional leadership and resiliency in their field, and service to the community.

The Award Honorees:

  • George T. Downing Business Leadership Award
    Leslie Moore, Business Leader
    Urban Christian Missionary & founder of Core Collaboratives, LLC.
  • Outstanding Achievement in Leadership Award
    Keith Stokes, Director of Business & Economic Development
    City of Providence
  • Christiana Bannister Civic Leadership Award
    James (Jim) Vincent, President & Civil Rights Leader
    NAACP Providence Branch
  • Emerging Leader Award
    Kerry Wilson, Financial Solution Advisor, Merrill Edge
    Bank of America
  • Isaac Rice Entrepreneurship Award
    Jennifer Freitas, Owner
    The District Restaurant
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Champion Award
    Papitto Opportunity Connection and Barbara Papitto
  • Change Agent Award
    Melissa Husband, Chief of Staff
    Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island
  • Partnership Award
    Claudia Staniszewski, Program Officer, Economic Development
    Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • Member of the Year Award
    Evelyn Ranone, Vice President of Community Development & DEI
    BayCoast Bank

RIBBA has tickets available for sale for the Gala and is also welcoming sponsors for the event. To purchase tickets for the Gala, go to the Gala Event Page. For more information on sponsorship, please contact Lisa Ranglin, RIBBA Founder and President at lisa@ri-bba.org or 401.465.3669.



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.


Expect the Unexpected: 5 Reasons to Apply for the RIBBA Emerging Leaders Development Program

by Stephanie Mireku

RIBBA’s Emerging Leaders Development Program is a unique opportunity for professionals of color to invest in their leadership skills and amplify their professional trajectories toward greater success. The program encourages active and ongoing participation in discussions and projects related to topics such as personal brand, leadership style, conflict management, and managerial effectiveness. Participants have the platform to increase their overall access to resources and opportunities, enhance their capacity to lead, improve career opportunities, build significant relationships, and contribute to the fabric of leadership in their communities.

The program, currently in its second year of accepting applicants, has a reputation all on its own in part due to its remarkable outcomes, such as a 100% graduation rate, several promotions and job offers, board placements, business launches, speaking opportunities, and overall increased access to professional and personal opportunities. While it can be interesting and helpful to hear the facts, the stories make all the difference. In the words of Maya Angelou, “people will forget what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel”. We hope you feel the impact of the program by hearing the perspective from a graduate of the first cohort, Mushi Calixte, a Manager of the Community Support Team at The Providence Center, about why it would be advantageous to apply for the program. 

1. You’ll get what you contribute, but most likely you will get even more  

Mushi shared that she pursued the Emerging Leaders program in hopes to become a better leader to guide her staff and improve decision making. Her impressive outcome of attaining a promotion and increasing confidence, as well as maximizing potential and capacity to lead, balance major responsibilities and pursue additional endeavors in life such as an advanced degree, she attributes to the next level mindset and growth focused environment of the program. These were all added and unexpected advantages to participating. 

2. You will learn a lot of important truths about yourself 

Mushi shared that through this experience she learned about how giving she is, how that affects how she is perceived, and how she can best navigate that, additionally she learned that she is stronger than she ever thought she was. The program also reminded her of the important truth that she is enough, and that she can use her unique voice in leadership as a Black woman the way that works for her rather than molding to others’ preferences or expectations. In Mushi’s powerful words: “My seat is there, I just have to sit in it”. 

3. You will meet incredible people and build valuable relationships 

Mushi had a hard time narrowing down her favorite part of the cohort experience due to having such a high value and return on her time in the program, but she ultimately pointed out the essence of the program is the people, and specifically meeting everyone participating in the program who were also focused on a goal of elevating themselves as leaders of color. It was reaffirming to know that she is not alone in trying to better herself. She now has a whole new set of people that she can go to for advice, to share ideas and perspectives, and to connect with on a personal level. 

4. The conversations and experiences you have will elevate your career and life 

Mushi shared that she had previously participated in other leadership programs but what sets the RIBBA Emerging Leaders Development Program apart from others of its kind is the individual and collective impact of the experience provided by RIBBA leadership and staff envisioned and then made the program possible. All of the incredible resources, information, and opportunities shared with the interest of helping participants to grow, learn, and improve made all the difference. The support from each person who was a part of the experience made all the difference as well as the feeling of having real, relevant, and powerful conversations in the duration as opposed to the feeling of being lectured to. Mushi also wonders what could have happened had she had access to this opportunity sooner because of how impactful it has been already.

5. You get a rare opportunity to give to and invest in yourself

Mushi’s advice to future participants: “be completely open minded, put the information into practice, be hands on, and take advantage of everything that is offered, and most importantly be ready to receive” 

The Emerging Leaders Development Program prepares high-performing Asian, Black, Hispanic or Latino, Indigenous and multi-racial professionals for advancement into senior leadership and executive roles while raising their visibility as a force within their organization and community. This 7-month leadership program is designed to provide participants with the additional knowledge, skills and tools that they will need to take their career to the next level. The program includes in-residence training, assessments to aid in advancement, executive and emotional intelligence coaching, mentorship, volunteering, civic engagement, networking opportunities, and more. 

The Emerging Leaders Development Program is free for participants through funding received by the RI Department of Labor and Training and is delivered by RIBBA in partnership with the University of RI Office of Strategic Initiatives.

To learn more and apply, visit the webpage

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. 

The RI Black Business Association Seeks Nominations for Awards Program

Nominations will be accepted until the deadline on June 3, 2022

Providence, Rhode Island – Wednesday, May 5, 2022 –  The Rhode Island Black Business Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses and professionals in RI, is seeking nominations for its 2022 Annual Awards Program. RIBBA will recognize outstanding business owners, entrepreneurs and community leaders for their achievements and contributions to the community. The awards will be presented at RIBBA’s 2022 Annual Awards Gala on Friday, October 28, 2022. 

Nominations are being accepted in six categories:  

  • George T. Downing Business Leadership Award: Presented to an influential business leader for developing an outstanding, growing business; innovative product(s), increasing jobs, increasing sales, overcoming adversity in the workplace and who plays a strong leadership role in the community by serving industry associations and community organizations. 
  • Emerging Leader Award: Presented to an individual who is an up-and-coming leader whose impact is seen not only in their organization, but throughout the state.   
  • Isaac Rice Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Presented to an individual who has no more than three years of organizing and/or managing a successful business. 
  • Christiana Bannister Civic Leadership Award: Presented to an individual in recognition of outstanding services to the community, society and humanity. 
  • Diversity and Inclusion Champion: Presented to a company that demonstrates a strong commitment to corporate responsibility practices and whose leaders are actively engaged in supporting and expanding diversity and inclusion in procurement or lending and hiring. 
  • Member of the Year Award: Presented to an individual or business member of the Rhode Island Black Business Association who has played a strong role in RIBBA’s overall community goals. 

Nominations for the Awards Program will be accepted until the deadline on August 19, 2022 at 5 pm. To nominate an individual or business, please use the Awards Program Nomination Form.  For more information or to speak with a RIBBA representative, please email amanda@ri-bba.org. 

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. Learn More, call 401-383-1179 or e-Mail: Info@ri-bba.org