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Mariangela Zavala, 210-952-6672
SAN ANTONIO (September 15, 2021) — After an extensive review process, Maestro Entrepreneur Center (MEC) and the City of San Antonio (COSA) announce the cohort of aspiring entrepreneurs participating in the Embracing Entrepreneurial Equity Program (EEE). As part of the COSA's ongoing initiatives to empower local businesses owned by persons of color and women, the cohort consists entirely of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. MEC's goal is to a facilitate a program that will offer resources and support to underserved entrepreneurs with the ultimate goal of fostering economic equity within the city.
The San Antonio City Council allocated $250,000 in the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget to create EEE. Ten entrepreneurs will participate in a 10-week accelerator, beginning this month, to build capacity and further establish their business. The program will consist of customized hands on, one-on-one coaching, business organization referrals, and technical assistance. Participants will be granted up to $20,000 after successfully meeting milestones, as determined by MEC and approved by COSA's Economic Development Department (EDD).
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The 2021 Cohort for the EEE:
- Belinda Grace Torres had a vision in 2020 to start Senior Blessings, a company dedicated to helping the elderly with non-medical services such as companionship, transportation, shopping assistance and home organization.
- Darronnette Curtis, owner of LXVE MXFFIN (pronounced "love muffin"), is launching an upcoming cosmetics brand routed in cleaner (i.e. vegan and cruelty-free) makeup options for beauty lovers and enthusiasts.
- Jo Ann Cilona, is growing her business Face Alternatives Career Academy, a vocational trade school to help empower students with multiple innovative skills to succeed in various beauty industry specialties. The school will offer cosmetic industry, business and marketing knowledge as well as proficiencies to become self-employed or a skilled employee.
- Lakisha Hazel has a goal to put her 30 years of cooking experience toward putting the "soul" back into soul food through her company Marie's Soul Food which serves up good quality food just as our grandmothers and mothers would.
- LaQueena Gonzales is working toward opening, Hair Eccentric, a cosmetology beauty school on the Eastside. Her business idea will provide training for low-income families in the area of cosmetology to create opportunities for them to excel in employment or become self-employed.
- Magdalena Ortiz has a passion for cooking, specifically for her own unique and extraordinary salsa. She is eager to turn her passion into a business. Her business name will be identified at a future time.
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- Mayra Ginez is an aspiring mentor and property manager with a motivation to provide a positive, personal short-term rental experience for both the owners and guests in San Antonio through her company Prestige Airbnb Property Management. Her goal is to create job opportunities for hospitality workers, landscapers, and maintenance personnel.
- Rebecca Steele and her business partner Kristen Martinelli are moms and seasoned educators behind Two Hoes Gardening. The business's mission is to bring garden education to the community using biodynamic and permaculture techniques that empower customers to connect with the earth.
- Tia Rodriguez has a conscious curbside eatery called Urban Soul that creates vegan versions of comfort food and soul food. She wants to represent her culture by providing a vegan option for these favorite cuisines in a trendy and fun way.
- Yonatan Medhin has a business called Grain4Grain that takes the byproduct of spent grain from breweries in San Antonio and turns it into a keto flour - all the carbs are removed to create the beer! He wants to serve the community by providing a low-carb, high-protein flour that allows those with health risks such as heart disease and diabetes to still enjoy the foods they love.
More than 200 aspiring entrepreneurs applied for the program. MEC is dedicated to providing continual support for the entrepreneurial community by offering the 2021 MEC Accelerator Program free-of-charge for EEE applicants who were not selected for the program. This 10-week program offers a curriculum-based, intensive accelerator for small minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses seeking growth. Program sessions are led by experienced business owners who provide valuable information about how to grow and expand an entrepreneurial endeavor.
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