ST. LOUIS — WePower is an organization engaging communities to re-design education, economic, health and justice systems to be equitable for all.
One of its programs is called Elevate/Elevar. It's a free 6-month business development program for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.
It's for those who are under resource and don't have connections to capital or mentors.
- Identify as Black or Latinx
- $50,000 - $500,000 revenue per year
- Work in industries that create living wage jobs for community-members living in poverty
- Commit to their company full time or agree to make the leap if accepted into the cohort
- Founder currently working full-time on and in business or with plan to by program start date
On its website it says, from 1983 to 2013, the nation’s median wealth decreased by nearly 20%. Through research, WePower leaders learned white wealth increased during this period, while Black and Latinx wealth decreased significantly.
This leaving our communities in extreme disinvestment and poverty.
That's why it wants to elevate Black and Latinx founders.
WePower leaders learned by investing in their success, it is estimated to generate 1.1 million more businesses and 9 million more jobs.
Keisha Mabry is the Director of Entrepreneur ship at WePower.
"Often times they don’t see Black or Latinx owners as credible or trusting. They also don’t have many resources to get up and running. We focus on Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who are in tech, health, IT, retail, construction and food," Mabry said.
She explained it is focusing on these type of businesses for two reasons:
- It can really build wealth in St. Louis
- They have lower barriers to entry
The first group of 10 graduated in August 2020.
They grew their monthly sales and revenues 350% on average. They have also gone on to access more than $350,000 in capital and funding.
Beyond that, 60% have hired employees.
This group is given cohort learning, one-on-one coaching, access to capital, and support.
One of the graduates is Tiffany Wesley, owner of Pure Vibes.
She realized she needed natural products that were gluten-free to help her live with PCOS. That's how her business formed.
"I really think it was beneficial to where we are today. It really has propelled my business forward. Just the education, business management, cost strategies. It really pulls it together to allow you to work on your business rather than in your business," Wesley said.
Another graduate, David Cervantes with Cevantes Designs, tells 5 On Your Side:
"Elevate/Elevar recognizes the unbridled passion entrepreneurs have in creating a positive impact in that individuals life, WePower provides us the insight to focus that zealous pursuit of self-defined success. The Elevate/Elevar program was the multiplier in strengthening the foundations of my business to grow in ways I didn't foresee. They bolstered my confidence by helping me recognize my models weak points and through outside mentorship and intimate trustworthy relationships developed with the WePower leaders (Edgar, Yoni). Through the painful and growing experience that they provide, did they help my business, day-by-day fall into the pattern of becoming. It was very cathartic and therapeutic to know you weren't the only one experiencing hardships in becoming a COVID business survivor. The cohort has supported and continues to reinforce confidence in each other. At the end of the day, that's what community is and overall is the ultimate goal of WePower. For us to be "successful" and re-invest into our communities through increased revenue and hiring/teaching our neighbors. In the end, we make St. Louis Stronger."
Now, the program needs new applicants! The deadline is Feb. 5.
WePower will have an application support session from 2-4 that day.
If you are interested, you can apply here.
The program is also seeking guest experts and mentors in certain areas. They offer mentor teams, a business coach, and a therapist.
If you'd like to be help, you can email: email@example.com.
- Jan. 18-Feb. 5: Applications open
- Feb. 12: All entrepreneurs notified if they made it to the next round
- Feb. 15-17: Semi-finalists interviewed
- Feb. 19: Finalists announced
- Feb.19-24: Community vote
- Feb. 26: Cohort of 10 entrepreneurs announced
- March 2 and March 4: Entrepreneur onboarding begins (additional dates in March tbd)
- April 1: Accelerator and curriculum begins