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August is Black Business Month and what better way to support businesses started and owned by black entrepreneurs than offering monetary grants to support their endeavors. Courvoisier® Cognac, the Most Awarded Cognac House*, hosted the Chicago stop of the Courvoisier Entrepreneurship Awards in partnership with The Chicago Urban League on Wednesday August 3 where winners from the grand prize winner to the third runner up all received monetary grant varying in amounts. The event, held at Bronzeville’s Gallery Guichard, is the latest in support of the Courvoisier’s global philanthropic platform, Foundation 1828™, a $1 million financial commitment over five years to aid Black and minority small business owners and entrepreneurs in the U.S. Gallery Guichard won the 2021 Courvoisier Small Business Matters Virtual Pitch Competition grand prize.
The evening, hosted by Brooke Mackie, began with a reception where guests nibbled on some delicious apps while sipping Courvoisier cocktails. The pitches followed one after the other and the panelists had the opportunity to ask each entrepreneur presenting their business some questions that would help them in the deliberation later. The evening also hosted a panel discussion. Following the panel discussion, the judges returned with their verdict. The third runner ($5,000) up was Milton Latrell who presented his business, Agriculture, a custom clothing and styling store currently with a storefront in Chicago’s Gold Coast, with products from the best menswear and luxury brands, including luxury watches, clothing, accessories, colognes and shoes, that wants to start making their branded RTW pieces. Second runner up ($10,000) was Tiffani Bell of Consummate Home, a lifestyle platform yet to launch that connects users with Black experts in the home space; they aim to be the go to resource for everything Black to help create a well home, like Home Advisor meets Martha Stewart Living. First runner up ($15,000) was Kiley Russel of Love & Light Cafe, a community based cafe providing good made to order healthy food to good people that has now sought to source their own coffee beans due to supply chain challenges and may look into branding and selling those in the near future as well.
The grand prize ($25,000) went to Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding presented by co-founder Genesis Bencivenga Sr. If you saw her pitch that even had its own jingle and passion you would see why. The business is a family-run, locally-sourced frozen pudding company that offers a variety of flavors including original southern-style banana, Hawaiian pineapple and strawberry. She understood the assignment, as the kids say and delivered a solid pitch not only for the funding but for any potential customers. We really hope and see big things for the Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding brand with the right investments and partner alignments especially in the CPG space.
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