United Way opens applications for Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative

  Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative - February 29, 2024

Program features matched savings accounts, educational workshops for eligible participants 


NEW ORLEANS – United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) opened the application process Thursday for its Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative designed to help boost the profit potential of Black-owned businesses in the region.  

“We are thrilled to launch the second cohort of the Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative,” said Michael Williamson, UWSELA President and CEO. “This program reflects our ongoing commitment to equity and economic empowerment. By investing in the success of Black-owned businesses, we are fostering a more inclusive and vibrant Southeast Louisiana for all.” 

The initiative, launched in 2023, pairs a 5:1 matched development account for participating businesses with formal and informal opportunities to learn how to manage and budget money, improve their earning capability and invest in themselves and their communities. 

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

UWSELA’s expert financial capability staff conduct the initiative’s classes through area Prosperity Centers with support from industry mentors, local financial institutions, chambers of commerce and the Urban League of Louisiana.  

“The Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative represents a significant step forward in our efforts to address economic disparities and promote entrepreneurship within the Black community,” added Chiquita Lattimore, UWSELA Senior Vice President of Community Impact and Financial Capability. “By providing targeted support and resources, we are creating pathways to prosperity and long-term wealth-generating power.” 

UWSELA will select participants through a competitive application process, which includes the criteria below: 

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 online application is open now through March 22. 

Eligible businesses completing the application will receive an invitation to attend an informational session and a short meet-and-greet with the UWSELA team before advancing. UWSELA will distribute invitations on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The 15 businesses accepted must complete the following requirements over the course of 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. 

To learn more about the program and apply, 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.