Business consultant Cureate and Forge Inc., a revolving community loan fund in Arkansas, recently completed an eight-week business development program for food and beverage entrepreneurs in Northwest Arkansas, and applications are being accepted for the spring program.
According to Cureate founder and CEO Kim Bryden, the spring program will be structured similarly to the fall program. It’s free and allows 10 food and beverage entrepreneurs to participate in Cureate Courses that are designed to help them to diversify their revenue streams and grow into new sales channels.
Bryden said the program has an emphasis on Northwest Arkansas, “but we are open to receiving applicants from businesses around the state.”
The fall program recently ended with a pitch competition that included a $5,000 cash prize. The winner was Ola Atilola of Asami Tea. The judges selected him as he was able to connect the story of the brand and the existing supply chain. He plans to invest his winnings into making his packaging more sustainable.
The fall cohort comprised 30 applicants. Among the 10 chosen businesses, six are owned by women, and six are owned by people of color, Bryden said. Five are from Fayetteville, and the remainder are from Bentonville, Cave Springs, Eureka Springs, Farmington and Springdale. Along with Atilola, the following were the other entrepreneurs in the fall program:
- Harper Baucum, Fat Top Farm
- Stephanie Kirkpatrick, Bartleby’s Food
- Spencer Green, Simple + Sweet Creamery
- Joanna Alexis, Jojo’s Caribbean Cuisine
- Samuel Hernandez, Diamond Brew
- Belen Arriola, Nujava Coffee Co./Just Bee Coffee
- Kori Stanton, Baked By Kori
- Jennifer Hill Booker, Your Resident Gourmet
- Amanda Ashraf Arafat, Amanda Bakes
The application deadline for the spring program is 5 p.m. Jan. 21. The program begins the week of Feb. 21 and will end the week of April 25 with a pitch competition, according to the Cureate website.