Urban League Launches ‘Black Women in Retail’ Accelerator Program

NEW ORLEANS – Earlier this month, the Urban League of Louisiana announced the launch of its Black Women in Retail Accelerator Program in collaboration with the National Urban League and sponsored by Walmart through the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity. ULLA is one of five National Urban League Entrepreneurship Centers participating in this national accelerator program. 

This inaugural cohort supports 10 Black women-owned retail businesses across Louisiana with general and industry-specific coaching, mentoring and training. The program also provides direct assistance for obtaining small business certifications, assistance with bidding on public and private contracting opportunities, and leadership skills development training.

“We are proud to offer this unique program in support of Black women in retail across Louisiana and applaud National Urban League and Walmart for being intentional in its efforts to support Black women founders,” said Judy Reese Morse, president and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana, in a press release. “As we celebrate the Urban League of Louisiana’s 85th anniversary this year, it is imperative that we continue the organization’s rich history of creating programs and providing resources that yield economic impact and create generational wealth within the Black community. This program is just one more shining example of Urban League of Louisiana’s commitment to continue this legacy.”

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Urban League of Louisiana’s Black Women in Retail Accelerator Program seeks to build the capacity of Black women-owned retail businesses across Louisiana through education, counseling, mentorship, certification assistance and connections to supplier inclusion programs. The goal is to increase the visibility and marketability of participating businesses, and to assist in the creation and retention of jobs -allowing for the expansion of sole proprietorships into multi-employee firms.

Between March and October of 2023, the inaugural cohort of our Black Women in Retail program will include:

  • Entrepreneurial training and support
  • Women in retail leadership development program
  • WBE and MBE certification assistance
  • Bid prep training and assistance
  • Mentor/protégé and peer-to-peer partner programs
  • Financial empowerment and access to capital services

“This program will be a game-changer for Black women in retail,” said Klassi Duncan, vice president of Urban League of Louisiana’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “Participants will gain knowledge and insights from retail experts in capacity building, distribution, go-to-market strategies, supply chain management, and access to capital. One of the biggest challenges that small businesses face is getting access the right resources to scale in meeting the needs of large big box retailers. This program directly addresses this challenge and much more.”

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The following Black women business founders will participate in the first cohort of the Urban League of Louisiana’s Black Women in Retail Accelerator Program:

  • Sherilyn Hayward, Leroy’s LipSmack’n Lemonade
  • Tiffany Brown, Wicks Nola Candle Company
  • Natashia Paul, Chuupul Leather
  • Paige Alexander, L’Jai Amor
  • Keishia Deverney, Element Beverage 
  • Jacqueline Arvie, Jax’s Creole Kitchen
  • Laportia Cooper, Nola Botanical Tea 
  • Julie Vaucresson, Creole Made Easy
  • Joyce Galmon, Joyce’s Sweets Inc.
  • Brittney Hawkins-Dobard, Nola Cookie Co.

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