May 22, 2024 - Business

Shark Tank-style competition gives small businesses chance to grow

Ten people on stage, three in the middle holding large checks, standing in front of a blue screen.

Photo: Courtesy of Sunshine Enterprises.

A Shark Tank-style competition is giving entrepreneurs from under-resourced neighborhoods the tools to grow their businesses.

The big picture: Woodlawn-based Sunshine Enterprises, which offers business courses, mentorship and funding opportunities, awarded $17,500 to a mobile coffee cart, an Afrocentric clothing store, and a private makeup lessons service in a competition last weekend.

Zoom in: The owners of Procaffeinated CoffeeHouse, Dawning Day Creations and Rabecca Ann Artistry all say they started their businesses because they weren't seeing themselves or products for them in the marketplace.

  • Prizes were $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second and $2,500 for third.

What they're saying: "My fashion journey was inspired by my daughter, because I wanted her to wear African clothing as an infant, but 11 years ago, there weren't many companies offering products like that with the quality I desire," seamstress, Dawning Day Creations founder and second-place winner Lecretia Akines said in her pitch.

  • Procaffeinated CoffeeHouse owner Taylor King, who won first place, markets her coffee cart to businesses wanting to improve employee morale.
  • "It's just not fun to be back in the office anymore," King said. "By hiring a mobile barista, you are naturally bringing joy, great aroma and bringing community, because coffee is a natural catalyst for conversation."
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