RIBBA News

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.

Business Highlight: Papi’s Coquito

Papi’s Coquito started as a hobby bringing coquito, a coconut liquor beverage that originated in Puerto Rico, to the homes of friends of families. Victor Regino, one of the founders, wanted to find a way to keep his grandmother’s recipe alive, and began making this special drink for his friends. It became so in-demand that he eventually realized he had to find a way to monetize it. That’s where Luis Olmo, an accountant and old friend of Victor’s came in to help him in that effort. 

Victor and Luis worked together to lay out the plan for getting the business off the ground and were well aware that in order to get things going, they needed funds. Starting a liquor business is no small feat and would require significant financial investment. Historically, it hasn’t been easy for Black and Latino businesses to get access to capital, so they decided to try something unconventional and enrolled in RIBBA’s Business Plan Competition. Papi’s Coquito was one of three winners and was awarded a $3,000 micro-loan. With that funding, they were able create an LLC, purchase merchandise, and develop and distribute samples to new marketplaces outside of the Latino community where coquito originated.  

As they navigated getting their business license, they realized they’d need an even larger loan to apply for that license and further launch the business. The $3,000 loan helped Victor and Luis build credit as they applied for a significantly larger loan and were eventually approved.  

Papi’s Coquito will be launching out of Pawtucket as a wholesaler liquor beverage and will supply their coquito to liquor businesses throughout the state. They have an upcoming state hearing that is one of the final pieces to their official release this Spring. To stay up to date on the product and it’s launch, check out their website, Instagram, or Facebook 

 

  

International Women’s Day: Cynthia Scott

 

As Women’s History Month approached, the team at RIBBA didn’t have to deliberate much about who to honor and spotlight this year. Cynthia Scott has been a volunteer and Board Member with RIBBA for many years. She’s supported the organization in a variety of capacities, focusing intensely on ways to support and grow Black businesses.  

This spotlight isn’t to expand upon her work with RIBBA, though it’s deep and full of stories and accomplishments, but to shed light on her journey and commitment to fighting for equality and justice over the years.  

Throughout Cynthia’s adult life, she has been a fierce advocate for issues that affect workers and marginalized individuals and families. During her early years in Boston as a newly graduated artist in the early 1960’s, she quickly understood that the advertising and design job opportunities that were available to White Men, would not be extended to her. As she searched for a way to fight this oppressive system, she joined Boston Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), an organization that played a pivotal role in the civil rights struggle in Boston and elsewhere. While working with CORE, she protested widespread worker discrimination, served as chair of the housing committee, organized rent strikes, and continued to challenge discrimination and corruption.  

Cynthia went on to attend the Florence Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University where she earned a Master’s degree while completing all coursework toward a PHD outside of the dissertation. Based on research for her dissertation, The Status of Black Working Women, Cynthia developed an upward mobility program housed at the Roxbury unit of the Boston YWCA. Under a contract with what was then the First National Bank of Boston, the program focused on preparing black women working at the Bank in entry level jobs for promotional opportunities within the Bank.  Also, while studying at Heller School, Cynthia took the job that would launch her into her post academic career – workforce development.   Working as the Director of Planning for the CETA division of the USVI Dept of Labor, Cynthia was responsible for oversight and delivery of technical and program services to state workforce development agencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.  Over the next 23 years, Cynthia held professional positions managing, directing and designing employment and training programs at federal, state and local levels including serving as Director of Planning for the U S Virgin Islands Department of Labor.    

In addition to her very impactful professional career, Cynthia sustained her interest in art and has exhibited solo and in group shows in Chicago, Philadelphia, Richmond and in and around Boston.  She is a founder of the New England Women Artists of Color Association (NEWOCA) and has mounted numerous exhibitions of women’s art in the Boston area and several exhibitions in Rhode Island.  

In 2002, Cynthia relocated to Rhode Island upon retiring from her position as the Director of Grants at Roxbury Community College. In 2003, she began to work for change in Rhode Island as she’d done for every other place she’d live before this 

Throughout her personal and professional life, Cynthia Scott has not stopped fighting for equal opportunity for marginalized communities. We honor her this Women’s Month and thank her for her dedication and hard work over the last 50+ years. Cynthia Scott is not only a trailblazer, but an avid advocate for justice.  

The Rhode Island Black Business Association is Now Accepting Scholarship Applications

Scholarship applications for students entering college or university will be accepted until May 27, 2021. Providence, RI – February 23, 2021 – The Rhode Island Black Business Association, and its charitable arm that focuses on empowerment and training related activities – the Institute of Economic Empowerment & Development (IEED), are now accepting applications for their 2021 scholarship. Scholarship award amounts vary from $500-$1000 for each individual student. To date, RIBBA has given out over $45,000 in scholarships to Black students entering college or university.  

We’re extremely excited to be accepting applications for this year’s Scholarship Program. There are a wide number of systemic barriers and challenges that Black young adults face, and we hope this scholarship opportunity helps each recipient reach their full academic and career potential, said Amanda Roman – Director of Program Development & Operations at RIBBA. “Financial investments are an essential part of creating a more equitable education system and we are proud to be providing this and other opportunities to students.”


 The Scholarship Program is just one component of the LEAP Initiative, launched earlier this year by RIBBA’s charitable arm – IEED. Other activities and opportunities within the initiative include, a mentor program, executive coaching, financial literacy training, and skills development. The initiative’s wrap around programs and services were developed with RIBBA’s Community Advisory Board of Young Adults and will support scholarship recipients on their academic and career journey.  

“Before receiving the RIBBA/ IEED Scholarship, I didn’t have access to a laptop and had to use the library as a resource. This definitely impacted the amount of sleep and study time I had – since it was dependent on their schedule. With the scholarship funds, I was able to purchase a laptop for school and textbooks, all which enabled me to do my work on my own time – not on the library’s. Receiving this scholarship helped me, the son of two-hard working minority parents, advance my academic dreams. I’m a great example of RIBBA’s mission of promoting and aiding minorities within their community.” Jean Touze, 2017 recipient of RIBBA/IEED Scholarship and recent graduate of University of Rhode Island and currently employed by EY – Ernst & Young. 

To be considered for the 2021 Scholarship, applicants must be a resident of Rhode Island, a high school senior in the Fall of 2021, and will begin their Freshman year at an accredited college or university in the Fall of 2022. Scholarship applications are reviewed by a Scholarship Committee and awardee announcements will be made in August of 2021. Applications must be completed and received by May 27, 2021 at 4:00 PM. 

For more information and to download the application, go to: www.ri-bba.org/scholarship.  In addition, individuals who are interested in donating to RIBBA’s Scholarship Fund, can do so by clicking here 

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. 

The Institute for Economic Empowerment and Development is the 501 (c) (3) charitable arm of RIBBA and provides mentorship/career/ business readiness training and financial support for RIBBA’s initiatives and programs by the way of grants and fundraisers. Learn More, call 401-383-1179 or e-Mail: Info@ri-bba.org 

Rhode Island Black Business Association Now Accepting Applications for Young Adult Mentor Program Pilot

Providence, RI – Monday, October 5, 2020 -The 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), are now accepting applications for mentors and mentees to participate in the LEAP (Leadership Equity Accelerated Pathway) Initiative Mentor Program Pilot.

The mission of the LEAP Initiative is to train and support individuals through their academic and early careers by providing well-informed programs and services that strengthen their skills and support the many complex challenges they face. The LEAP Initiative’s Mentor Program is the first stage in this transformative and multi-layered initiative focused on developing a sustainable generation of diverse, empowered, and well-informed individuals.

The LEAP Mentor Program will take place over the course of 6 months, from the beginning of November  2020 until the end of May 2021. Mentors will be matched with middle school through early career aged mentees. Mentor and Mentee pairs will work together solving attainable goals, resolving challenges and removing barriers with the support of IEED. The deadline for applications is October 28, 2020.

“We’re extremely proud to be launching the LEAP Initiative with the Mentor Program Pilot,” said Lisa Ranglin – President of Rhode Island Black Business Association. “I’m confident that this transformative and impactful program will change the trajectory of people’s lives. There are a wide number of barriers and challenges that underrepresented individuals face throughout their academic and career journeys. We are working diligently to support young people as they navigate these roadblocks and to provide them with mentorship and evaluate each of their needs to determine what else supports their route to success.”

The initiative and program are informed by the Community Advisory Board for Young Adults. Each program detail has been assessed and designed by future participants as well as the business community, ensuring all individuals who are impacted are involved in the planning. The LEAP Mentor Program Pilot is free for both mentors and mentees.

To participate in the program, interested individuals can find more information and the mentee and mentor applications here. For more information on how to  support this program and overall initiative, contact: info@ri-bba.org.

 The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) is an independent non-profit organization. RIBBA’s 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. Our membership is open to the public and includes both small storefronts and large corporations – no matter the size or type of business, and professionals. We provide proactive policies, aggressive advocacy, and meaningful investor services that impact our members’ bottom line.

The Institute for Economic Empowerment and Development is a 501 (c) (3) charitable arm of RIBBA and provides mentorship/career/ business readiness training and financial support for RIBBA’s initiatives and programs by the way of grants and fundraisers. Learn More, call 401-383-1179 or e-Mail: Info@ri-bba.org