Inaugural Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative Grantees

May 10, 2023

United Way reveals inaugural Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative grantees

15 local businesses selected for matched savings incubator program


NEW ORLEANS – United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) announced Wednesday evening the inaugural participants of its Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative (TAASB), a game-changing program designed to help boost the profit potential of Black-owned businesses in greater New Orleans.  

“We know small business contributes both jobs and positive economic activity to communities, and that’s one reason why we’re making this investment in these individuals working to build their brands and income,” said Michael Williamson, UWSELA President and CEO. “But more importantly, our intentional investment in small, Black-owned businesses ensures communities of color don’t miss out on economic opportunities and growth.” 

The 15 inaugural participants include:  

Danny’s Creole Kitchen, LLC 

Afri Modiste 
Retail/Fashion Design 
Domango Training 
Health and Wellness  
Paparazzi Cam Photo Booth & Photography 
Event Rental Company 
Christie Lockett Healing Center 
Health Care and Social Assistance 
Touches by Tircuit 
Beauty Salon 
Beyond The Stage LLC 
Educational Services 
Socialstep Marketing and Consulting 
Treme Market Branch 
Entertainment Venue/Theater 
Therapist With Talent Massage 
Health & Wellness 
Braids By Denise LLC 
Hair Stylist 
His Grace Enterprises LLC 
Food & Drink 
New Day Properties, LLC 
Real Estate 
Socialite Events 
Event Planning
Perfectly Vinyl Prints D&B, LLC 
Graphic Design 

The participants – from Jefferson, Orleans, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes – will begin seven months of concentrated instruction through UWSELA’s Prosperity Centers designed to help them fine tune their budgeting skills and improve their profits and viability. UWSELA is in the process of accepting an eligible representative from St. Bernard Parish.  

As they hone their business acumen, participants will also work toward a $2,000 savings goal in their Hope Federal Credit Union development accounts, which UWSELA will match 5:1, creating $12,000 in new capital for each business.  

The initiative’s graduation ceremony will include the dynamic Level Up: Sell Your Spark presentations, which provides participants an opportunity to practice selling their plans to a group of potential investors – comprised of TAASB funders – who will rate each pitch. 

UWSELA is funding the Initiative through the generous support of the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation, BET, MacKenzie Scott and St. Tammany Corporation. The Bernard Group/Jolie Bernard LLC will also cover membership costs for both the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce and New Orleans Chamber of Commerce for all participants

Information about future TAASB application cycles will be released though UWSELA’s community newsletter.  

Visit to learn more about the program’s competitive application process and requirements.  

What are people saying about UWSELA’s Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative? 


Dr. Takeisha Davis, UWSELA Board of Trustees Chairwoman: 

“There is clear evidence of disparities in business ownership and success among the Black and white populations in our communities, but there is also clear evidence that shows how closing that gap has the potential to add jobs, income and overall prosperity to a given region. And while United Way has been a long-time investor in the Black small business community through our IDA Project, this new effort adds additional intentionality around our work to close the racial wealth gap and create a more equitable Southeast Louisiana for all.”   


Meaghan McCormack, CEO of St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation: 

“As our state and country continue to learn from and experience a racial reckoning, it’s incumbent upon us to play a role in righting historical and systemic wrongs. SBEDF is proud to partner with United Way to uplift Black-owned businesses and help their founders build generational wealth and economic security.”  


Chris Masingill, CEO of St. Tammany Corporation: 

“We are proud to be a part of this transformational initiative that will support and uplift entrepreneurs who have historically faced barriers to carving out their own path to prosperity. The Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative opens the door to equity, sustainability and growth by giving Black-owned businesses the tools and resources they need to start up, scale, realize their potential and thrive right where they are.”     


Chiquita Lattimore, UWSELA's Senior Vice President of Financial Capability: 

"Through our Prosperity Center work, we know small-business owners are often challenged, searching for a lifeline to take their shop or service from surviving to thriving. These businesses have the secret sauce to make them successful but need help leveling the playing field. United Way’s Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative gives them that help by equipping participants with the capital and critical business know-how needed for long-term viability.”