HBA Inspires, Empowers & Eliminates Obstacles For African-American Harlem Women Entrepreneurs

August 9, 2016

hba2The Harlem Business Alliance (HBA) of Harlem, New York has always been on the forefront for leading community economic development. Harlem Business Alliance has launched, The Lillian Project, to create an incubator for Harlem women to educate, empower and eliminate the challenges that are unique to low-income and minority business entrepreneurs. The project will facilitate and teach an intensive entrepreneurial program for 100 native-born, African-American low income Harlem women, through July 2018. Applications for the project are available on the website, www.thelillianproject.org and due by August 23, with finalists selected by August 30, 2016.

The project is supported with a $300,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan.

“The Harlem Business Alliance under the direction of executive director, Regina Smith, is a gem in this community. The positive effect the organization has had on individuals and businesses is immeasurable, however, The Lillian Project is extra special in that is it laser focused on a specific demographic. This is about a community of black women charged to put the lives of other black women on a trajectory for success; women who may not have had the opportunity without this program, it’s a game changer for all involved,” says Gina B. Ramcharan, project director of The Lillian Project.

With five dollars and a dream, Lillian Dean Harris aka ‘Pigfoot Mary’ became one of Harlem’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, at the turn of the 20th century. Ms. Harris is the inspiration behind the The Lillian Project.

  • Educate and mentor skills needed to start and grow a business while providing hands-on support with strategic planning, business development, financial aptitude and implementation.
  • Provide intensive master classes needed to ensure that women who operate home-based businesses expand into a storefront or office, that more of the small-scale food manufacturers export their products beyond New York.
  • Expand the types of industries women owned businesses operate, especially in the technology sector; help women entrepreneurs obtain financing from sources other than traditional banks.

The Harlem Business Alliance has pledged its service as an advocate for the preservation and retention of Harlem’s business community for over 36 years. Programs include but are not limited to: Harlem’s first co-working space; first adult stem program; 10,000 entrepreneurs served through programs and services; 2,000 entrepreneurs received 1-1 counseling and over 1,200 workshops.

Ramcharan added, “We have raised the bar and expectations in how business is done. The success of our entrepreneurs to open businesses, showcase their products at tradeshows, secure finance, garner media awareness and win numerous awards speaks volume about the dedication and professionalism of the staff at the Harlem Business Alliance. With this grant, we are able to bolster, build and shape confident women into entrepreneurs providing them with a pathway out of poverty. We all know that once a black woman gets started, she is unstoppable.”

For more information, visit www.hbany.org.

For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.

Photo via HBA

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