United Way Announces 2024 Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative Cohort  




Eleven local businesses selected for program that aims to close the racial wealth gap   


NEW ORLEANS – United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) Wednesday announced the participants of its 2024 Thriving African-American Small Business (TAASB) Initiative, which helps boost the profit potential of Black-owned businesses in the region.  

"In our 100th year of service to the community, programs like this one demonstrate our commitment to innovation, equity and intentionality," said Michael Williamson, UWSELA President and CEO. "We're grateful for our donors and partners for making the Thriving African-America Small Business Initiative a reality so that our United Way can continue to address the racial wealth gap and create more opportunities that allow everyone in Southeast Louisiana to thrive."  

The initiative, launched in 2023, pairs a 5:1 matched development account for each business with formal and informal opportunities to learn how to manage and budget money, improve their earning capability and invest in themselves and their communities. Once participants save $2,000 and complete program requirements over seven months, UWSELA will provide a $10,000 match to help with business expenses and future growth opportunities.  

The inaugural TAASB cohort generated over $150,000 in immediate capital for participants through the program's unique development accounts.   

"The Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative offers invaluable training and an injection of capital that businesses may not have otherwise," said Ronnie Slone, TAASB mentor and UWSELA Board Chair. "By investing in this type of life-changing programming, we're helping business owners transform their futures and the financial well-being of their family, potentially for generations to come."  

UWSELA's expert financial capability team conducts the initiative's classes through the J. Wayne Prosperity Center with support from industry mentors, local financial institutions, BET, MacKenzie Scott, The Bernard Group, The New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, Urban League of Louisiana and St. Tammany Corporation. 

The 2024 TAASB participating businesses include:   

 Miller Group Consulting 
Owner: Shantell Miller  
Industry: Professional Training  

Burks Management Firm 
Owner: Karen Burks
Industry: Consulting  

Gravel Roads Builders
Owner: Travis Banks  
Industry: Construction  

Howard Lee Consulting  
Owner: Janet Work   
Industry: Consulting  

 Peace of Serenity Day Spa  
Owner: Frances Harris   
Industry: Wellness  

So Craftee LLC  
Owner: Tanyaka Cline   
Industry: Distributor  

Revive Nutrition and Recovery Center 
Owner: Ronald Davis   
Industry: Wellness  

 Blossoming Mind Health  
Owner: Ebony Evans   
Industry: Wellness  

Owner: Rashaun Harris   
Industry: Marketing and PR  

Savvy Tax Solutions  
Owner: Taryn Spikes-Webb     
Industry: Financial Services  

Jessie's Sweet Boutique 
Owner: Jessica Davis 
Industry: Food 

UWSELA selected participants through a competitive application process, which includes the following criteria:   

  • Business office within Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa or Washington parishes  
  • 51% Black-owned and operated   
  • In business since 2021   
  • Annual revenue of $75,000 - $200,000  
  • In good standing and eligible to do business with the state of Louisiana   
  • Filed 2022 and 2023 business taxes    

"The Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative stands as a testament to fostering inclusive growth in Southeast Louisiana. Through strategic partnerships and collaboration, this initiative helps cultivate an environment that drives opportunities forward for communities of color," said Chris Masingill, CEcD, St. Tammany Corporation's Chief Executive Officer. "As economic developers, we recognize that empowering African-American small businesses is a necessity that directly contributes to our region's greater economic prosperity."  

The ten participating businesses must complete the following requirements throughout the program:   

  • Make regular savings deposits  
  • Attend financial education and small business training   
  • Develop a formal business plan  
  • Participate in monthly small business savings club meetings  
  • Attend regular sessions with a financial capability specialist   

"Through our work at the Prosperity Centers, we see small-business owners' challenges in building a healthy and prosperous business. The Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative offers a solution to struggling entrepreneurs by pairing a capital investment with expert coaching, resulting in higher profits," added Chiquita Lattimore, UWSELA Senior Vice President of Community Impact and Financial Capability. "Our first cohort saw significant, immediate growth in their small businesses, helping them make dreams come true and create long-term prosperity." 

To learn more about the program, visit UnitedWaySELA.org/TAASB or contact TAASB@UnitedWaySELA.org.   




About United Way of Southeast Louisiana  

For 100 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) has been a leader and trusted partner in improving lives and making a lasting difference. We fight to eradicate poverty by preparing people for quality jobs, growing incomes, and affording better health and education opportunities throughout Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable – and we have a plan. United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Blueprint for Prosperity guides all strategic investments in programs, initiatives, collaborations, volunteerism, and advocacy aimed at tackling poverty. For more information, please visit UnitedWaySELA.org. Find us on social: @UnitedWaySELA.