The Urban League of Louisiana recently announced their latest initiative to support Black women in retail.
Working in partnership alongside five other National Urban League Entrepreneurship Centers, the Urban League of Louisiana’s latest program is known as the Retail Accelerator Program.
Through the initiative, ten retail businesses owned by Black women in Louisiana will receive support for their stores.
The businesswomen that will be supported as the inaugural cohort include Paige Alexander of L’Jai Amor; Keishia Deverney of Element Beverage; Jacqueline Arvie of Jax’s Creole Kitchen; Laportia Cooper of Nola Botanical Tea and Joyce Galmon of Joyce’s Sweets Inc.
Sherilyn Hayward of Leroy’s LipSmack’n Lemonade; Tiffany Brown of Wicks Nola Candle Company; Natashia Paul of Chuupul Leather; Julie Vaucresson of Creole Made Easy and Brittney Hawkins-Dobard of Nola Cookie Co. will also be involved in the initiative.
Along with mentorship, the program will provide the women with entrepreneurial training, help with getting WBE and MBE certifications and training for bidding. The Retail Accelerator Program will also help the women with gaining funds for their businesses, providing them with access to capital services. Overall, the initiative’s focus will be on helping Black women-owned businesses by increasing job creation and maintaining sustainability to expand nationally.
In a press release, Judy Reese Morse, the President and CEO of the Urban League, expressed her excitement for the new program.
“As we celebrate the Urban League of Louisiana’s 85th anniversary this year, it is imperative that we continue the organization’s rich history of creating programs and providing resources that yield economic impact and create generational wealth within the Black community,” said Morse per a statement. “This program is just one more shining example of the Urban League of Louisiana’s commitment to continue this legacy.”
The announcement and creation of the initiative come during a time where Black women are amongst the groups with the fastest-growing rate of entrepreneurship.
According to the latest report by J.P. Morgan, in the span of five years from 2014 to 2019, the number of Black women-owned businesses increased the highest out of all groups at a rate of 50%. During this span, Black women made up 42% of women-owned businesses and 36% of Black-owned businesses.
The rates continued as Black women made up 17% of people opening up a new business in 2021.
Although Black women are recording higher rates of new businesses, there are significant hurdles the women are forced to face. Amongst these hurdles are less access to financial capital and funding.
“This program will be a game-changer for Black women in retail,” said the vice president of Urban League of Louisiana’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Klassi Duncan, per outlet Biz New Orleans. “Participants will gain knowledge and insights from retail experts in capacity building, distribution, go-to-market strategies, supply chain management, and access to capital.”