RELEASE: Shayba Muhammad of Mahnal Jewelry Wins “Be Seen Brunch” Elevator Pitch Competition and Awards Package

More than 100 Attended Event to Celebrate Women Entrepreneurs of Color Through Connections, Resources, Inspiration and Investment

St. Louis, MO – On Saturday, March 3rd, DK Solutions, The Hispanic Chamber, the BALSA Foundation and Brazen St. Louis, with support from JP Morgan Chase Foundation, hosted the Be Seen Brunch Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs of Color. The event, which drew more than 100 people to DK Annex, featured keynote speaker Rica Elysee, founder & CEO of BeautyLynk, as well as break-out sessions and mentoring opportunities by subject matter experts in the St. Louis entrepreneurship community. The event culminated with an elevator pitch competition with five entrepreneurs, reviewed by a blue-ribbon panel of judges from the St. Louis investment community.

Shayba Muhammad of Mahnal Jewelry was named the winner of the Elevator Pitch Competition and, as winner, will receive an award package that includes a $2,500 cash prize, made possible by a generous gift from the Clark Fox Family Foundation, two memberships in the new CIC co-working space (CIC3@4220 Duncan Ave) for six months, one year of membership to the Hispanic Chamber, a coaching session with Coach Kim Burke, and one year of membership to Brazen St. Louis.

Ronke Faleti of Korédé was runner-up and will receive an awards package that includes co-working space at Nexcore , a year of Brazen St. Louis membership and a BusinessGPS membership. Other pitch finalists inluded Rachel Simon-Lee of Heartwork Videos, Brittany Hill of Back Trap Yoga and Felice McClendon of SoundScrip.

Guest judges for the event were Brian Kinman of St. Louis Arch Angels, Dr., Cheryl Watkins-Moore of BioSTL, Brian Matthews of Cultivation Capital, Travis Sheridan of Venture Café and Dr. Mary Jo Gorman of TripleCare.

Breakout sessions were led by Darcella Craven of the Veterans Business Resource Center and Aimee Dunne of Brazen Global and roundtables were led by key community partner organizations.

Other partner organizations who led roundtables and/or nominated entrepreneurs for the pitch training and competition included Anders CPAs & Advisors, Missouri Technology Corporation, Mueller Prost, Brown Smith Wallace, Cultivation Capital, Arch Grants, Grace Hill , Justine Petersen, Beyond Housing, Fontbonne University and BioSTL

Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45% – a rate 5 times the national average. 78% of these net new women owned firms are owned by women of color. Unfortunately, fewer than 15% of all ventures receiving equity capital in 2014 had women on their executive teams, and only 2.7% of the companies had a woman CEO. Even more discouraging, women of color received only 0.2% of all venture capital funding over the last five years.

ABOUT THE CO-HOSTS
Brazen St. Louis is a non-profit organization that takes a business-first approach to help growth-seeking women entrepreneurs in the region advance their businesses. To learn more, visit: www.BrazenSTL.com

DK Solutions is a creative consulting and event company specializing in brand development and marketing. http://dksolutionsfirm.weebly.com/

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce works to improve business opportunities for Hispanic firms and professionals thereby improving the economic development of the St. Louis region. https://www.hccstl.com/

The BALSA Foundation works to promote social equity and prosperity in the St. Louis region by empowering first-time entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. http://www.balsafoundation.org/

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