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Woman-Led Entrepreneurial Hub to Launch National Accelerator Program Supporting Black-Owned Businesses

Gaby M. Rojas
Three businesswomen walking together

The Village Market (TVM) and Our Village United (OVU) announced the national expansion of its highly successful ELEVATE program with ELEVATED CITIES. The program is set to launch in early 2023 with support from Mastercard through their “In Solidarity” initiative, a program launched in 2021 dedicated to investing in Black communities across the U.S. by generating funding and opportunities for Black-owned Businesses.

ELEVATED CITIES builds on OVU’s ELEVATE program which works to provide wrap-around support for solopreneurs and microbusinesses through targeted capital grants, technical assistance, shared professional services, and wellness support for the business owner. ELEVATED CITIES will impact Black-owned businesses across Atlanta, Los Angeles, St. Louis, New Orleans, New York City, Dayton, Birmingham, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to deliver strategies and practices that will scale these businesses for growth.

“Our Village United’s work started in the midst of the pandemic when the future of small businesses, especially Black-owned small businesses was uncertain. Since 2020, we’ve been able to make a tremendous impact on over 250 Black-owned small businesses, and it’s a dream realized to be able to scale our impact nationally,” says Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon, Founder and CEO of The Village Market. “This program is an opportunity for Black entrepreneurs to gain the resources and funding they need to build sustainable businesses. I am thrilled to be doing this work with the support of a partner like Mastercard that understands the importance of investing in Black-owned businesses and the role their success plays in advancing the Black community as a whole.”

Twenty percent of small businesses fail by the first year, 30 percent by the second, 50 percent by the fifth, and by the 10th year, a staggering 70 percent of businesses are forced to close down. For Black entrepreneurs, these numbers can be even higher. Eight out of 10 Black-owned businesses fail within the first 18 months. This disparity is a signal that black business owners are lacking access to resources and funding to build a foundation for a sustainable and thriving business. 

Businesses selected for the ELEVATED CITIES program will participate in a 12-week incubator and receive access to $100,000 in grant opportunities, business development classes, mentorship programs, and professional and technical support services. As part of its mission to serve the whole business, OVU will also provide wellness support led by licensed wellness coaches and mental health practitioners.

The ELEVATED Cities initiative works to bridge the gap between classroom instruction, practical application via retail online, and in-store placement. After businesses complete their program and have identified areas where they need improvement, they have access to technical assistance and professional development services for up to 40 hours per business.

For more information about ELEVATED CITIES, please visit ourvillageunited.org/elevated-cities/.

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