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Three Women Win Accelerator Contest

In December 2020, nine entrepreneurs competed in Union Bank’s third annual start-up pitching competition. In total nine contestants competed, culminating in three entrepreneurs—all women of color—winning the contest and awarded funding.

The event was held by Connect All @ the Jacobs Center, a local business accelerator program.

Founded in 2018, the accelerator is dedicated to minority-owned companies. Contestants completed a four-month training program, and then had just five minutes to pitch their ideas in a video presentation to a panel of judges.

Women Sweep Awards

The first-place winner is Anahi Abe-Brower, founder of Worthy Picks, a line of reusable utensils, straws, toothbrushes, and other household goods made out of sustainable materials such as bamboo and organic cotton. Abe-Brower won $7,500 to support and expand her business. Her products can be ordered through her website and are also found in local boutiques, such as Pigment.

“Anahi Abe-Brower did a fantastic job of showing the judges the need for her eco-friendly business and growth trajectory,” said Jeanette Gann-Escobar, director and branch manager at Union Bank. “We agree with Anahi that big changes often start with small steps and look forward to seeing her company thrive.”

Meri Consulting Services, a business firm started by Meri Birhane helps IT companies, startups, and sales teams book more meetings and increase revenue, won the Audience Choice Award and the second-place prize of $5,000.

The $2,500 third-place winner was The STEAM Collaborative, an organization founded by Jasmine Sadler, a trained rocket scientist and ballerina, that offers youth programs in science, technology, and art.

Alex Waters, director of Connect All @ the Jacobs Center said, this was the first time that the program selected three women of color as winners for its competition.

Keeping Foot on the Gas

When the pandemic took hold back in March, the leadership team decided to shift its business accelerator to a virtual setting for its workshops, office hours and other activities.

“Despite all the challenges with COVID-19 global pandemic. There’s still amazing entrepreneurs continuing to push forward and build their businesses. There’s a lot of talent that’s still working hard,” said Waters.

Applications for its next cohort have already closed, the latest batch of entrepreneurs will be announced at the end of January, said Waters. It plans to host three cohorts this year, interested participants are encouraged to apply through its website. 


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