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

NEW ORLEANS – From the United Way of Southeast Louisiana:

UWSELA has announced the participants in its 2024 Thriving African-American Small Business Initiative, which works to 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-American 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.” 

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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.” 

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UWSELA’s 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

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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


“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, St. Tammany Corporation’s CEO. “As economic developers, we recognize that empowering African-American small businesses is a necessity that directly contributes to our region’s greater economic prosperity.”  

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

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