ReMix Ideas Inc. and FORGE Community Loan Fund will kick off the inaugural Startup Business Academy at Philander Smith College in Little Rock this weekend to help guide underserved mostly women and minority entrepreneurs through the early stages of business development.
According to organizers, the 12-week academy is a novel, custom-designed program that will teach entrepreneurs the skills required to create and sustain a successful small business, including how to develop and test ideas in the marketplace. Class instruction will be led by local business owners equipped with concepts and real-world knowledge.
“This partnership is essential in building an entrepreneurial ecosystem that helps entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses,” said Benito Lubazibwa, CEO of ReMix Ideas, a local for-profit entrepreneurial service organization. “We are committed to transform lives and communities through entrepreneurship.”
Lubazibwa, the local startup promoter who organizes the city’s Africa Day Fest and this summer’s Night Market in Little Rock’s River Market district, said the academy’s curriculum is tailored to startups and small businesses. Participants will learn concepts such as Lean Canvas, value propositions, customer acquisition, pricing strategies, marketing, and financing.
Additionally, classroom concepts will be reinforced by presenting participants with a variety of experiential learning exercises including business simulations, discussions and case studies, Lubazibwa said, regardless of educational level or work experience.
“What we have seen is that there are many talented, hard-working entrepreneurs in our state that have great ideas, as well as the drive to make their business thrive, but lack some of the tools required for long-term success,” said C.J. Sentell, executive director of FORGE. “The Academy will address a real need in the Arkansas entrepreneurial community. (It) will provide the tools to make these entrepreneurial dreams a reality. Its success will not only change lives individually, it will transform the economy of state for the benefit of all Arkansans.”
The inaugural academy participants from across the state of Arkansas and their early stage business concepts are:
Machelle N. Holly – Chelle’s Eats
Cori B. Sammons – Ladibug Studio
Idalis A. Gibert – Idalis
Shelton L. Cole – The Car ‘DAY SPA’
Veronica Williams – Event Center
Courtney T. Edwards – Coco’s Beauty Galore & Fashion Boutique
Stacy Dantzler Young – BusThat
Deborah J. Jackson – Rental properties
Sophia L. Walker – Sophia Arts and Designs portraits and alterations
Tiffany W. Washington – Elite Plus Transport
Michele Wright – Rainbow Coffins – Affordable Caskets
Tierra S. Tims – Symone
Elnora Wesley – The House of Mental
Bridgette Perkins – Elite Trucking
Renea Parker – The Boil