Three Clarke Square entrepreneurs were selected as finalists to compete to win a grand prize of $2500 to support business development goals. La Catrina de Villa, led by entrepreneur Guillermo Ramos Serrato, was the grand prize winner.
Ramos, co-proprietor of La Catrina de Villa with his wife, Abby, eliminates the middleman in the wholesale spice industry to provide lower than market cost of spices to local eateries. In addition to the cash prize sponsored by the Zilber Family Foundation, La Catrina de Villa will receive support from WWBIC in form of business classes and technical assistance.
The finalists – Botánica Milagro de la Cruz, Yenepa Herbals, and La Catrina de Villa – first submitted written applications explaining how the resources would support the goals for their business. The second, and final, round was the Quick Pitch – a scaled back Shark Tank type presentation, in front of a panel of three judges. The entrepreneurs came well prepared on a warm Tuesday afternoon at the end of July with PowerPoints, product samples, and friends.
Elizabeth Cruz, of Botánica Milagro de la Cruz, is the owner of a botánica on Cesar E. Chavez Drive. She plans on using the funds to further develop her website to make online sales and to increase her social media presence. She was selected as the second place winner, of $1000, from the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative, as well as business classes and technical support from WWBIC.
Angela Kingsawan, of Yenepa Herbals, creates natural healing products out of native plants grown in her backyard garden. She brought stress-relief lollipops to share with the attendees, as well as samples of other products, and bunches of herbs that she uses to create different products. She was selected as the third place winner and will receive $500 from Town Bank. Also, Angela’s business will be one of the next occupants to operate the Pop-Up MKE storefront at 1008 S. Cesar Chavez (from mid-August through mid-September).
Joaquín Altoro of Town Bank, Elmer Moore of Milwaukee Denim Co., and Tyna Rule, Clarke Square resident and entrepreneur, as well as CSNI Board President, served as the judges of the event. The three judges asked discerning questions and provided valuable insight to the finalists. Their wisdom will encourage all the entrepreneurs in moving forward with their business ventures.
The Quick Pitch event was held at CannedBeatz Art Space on S. 25th & W. National Ave., owned by the creative Tommie Myles. Refreshments were provided by Gloria’s Cake Shop and Café and Cielito Salvadoreño.
About WWBIC: Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. (WWBIC) is a leading, innovative economic development corporation “Putting Dreams to Work.” WWBIC’s primary focus is on women, people of color and low income individuals, providing direct lending and access to fair and responsible capital, quality business education, one-on-one technical business assistance and education to increase financial capability. In 2018, WWBIC celebrates 31 Years of Impact and has directly lent over $62 million in micro and small business loans with a current loan portfolio of $18 million and 600 active borrowers. Visit: www.wwbic.com for more information.
About the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative Inc. (CSNI)
The mission of the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative is to improve the neighborhood and benefit community residents. CSNI is responsible for leading and coordinating the continued implementation of the Clarke Square Quality of Life Plan. Read more at www.clarkesquare.org