Female founder invests $350K in funding and mentorship for 35 Black women entrepreneurs

By Special to the AFRO

Cameka Smith, award-winning entrepreneur and founder of The Boss Network, an online community of professional and entrepreneurial women, has announced the 35 awardees of the 2022 Sage Invest in Progress grants. The funds will support Black women entrepreneurs in their first five years of business. Each of them will receive $10K in funding and a year-long mentorship.

The Sage Invest in Progress grant is a three-year, $1.5 million commitment by Sage (via the Sage Foundation) to support the newly announced BOSS Impact Fund, which is focused on investing in Black women-led businesses and preparing entrepreneurs to build scalable, growth aggressive companies. 

The goal of the BOSS Impact Fund is to raise investment funding for 500+ black women entrepreneurs over the next three years.

Initially set to award 25 grants, the overwhelming response of more than 12,500 applicants nationwide encouraged Sage and The BOSS Network to expand the program with 10 additional awards. The 35 awardees represent entrepreneurs from around the country and in various industries, including beauty and self-care, consumer goods, professional services, healthcare and wellness, and food and beverage services.

As part of the BOSS Impact Fund, the Sage Invest in Progress grant includes a 12-month program of entrepreneurial mentorship and education focused on knocking down barriers to business success and guiding these businesswomen to reach their full potential.

Each Sage Invest in Progress grant awardee receives:

• $10,000 USD in funding

• Quarterly business training courses through BOSS University sponsored by Sage, focusing on   Marketing, Finance, Customer Service, and Business Strategy

• Access to The BOSS Network online community

• Complimentary Sage Business Cloud Accounting software

“This is such an outstanding moment for The BOSS Network,” said Smith. “The launch of our first BOSS Impact Fund, as well as our incredible partnership with Sage, are not only a testament to the strength of The BOSS Network brand but also the power of our community of entrepreneurs and business owners. We are ecstatic for the 35 awardees and look forward to guiding them on their road to success.”

Aziz Benmalek, interim president of Sage North America said she was “surprised by the overwhelming response” to the company’s “inaugural Invest in Progress grant. It’s apparent there is an immense need to remove the capital investment barrier for black businesswomen,” she said. “Sage is committed to supporting these women and continuing to invest in underrepresented communities for an equitable future.”

Here is a listing of the 35 initial Invest in Progress grant awardees, including their business and location:

• Josie Santiago, Akili Well, based in Emeryville, CA

• Iris Hoses, Festively, based in Hacienda Heights, CA

• Tracey-Renee Hubbard, Scotchbonnet!, based in Hayward, CA

• Briantria Smocks, Levi & Toonk, based in Lakewood, CA

• Aaliyah Nitoto, Free Range Flower Winery, based in Livermore, CA

• Diondraya Taylor, Mindset & Milestones, based in Los Angeles, CA

• La’Dayshia Hunt, Divinity Remedy, based in San Francisco, CA

• Lydia-Carlie Tilus, SageFemme Wellness, based in San Mateo, CA

• Kevnesha Boyd, Quality Counseling, based in Hamden, CT

• Naomi Dubissette, Urbanoire, based in Norwalk, CT

• Janese Laster, Gut Theory Total Digestive Care, based in Washington, D.C.

• Brianna Ross, Brown Rose Essentials, based in Apopka, FL

• Courtney Gavin, Xelda Company, based in Boca Raton, FL

• Monique Caradine-Kitchens, OverFlow Enterprises, based in Atlanta, GA

• Beverly Iseghohi, SBR4Life, based in Atlanta, GA

• Jaquacer Middlebrooks, box it UP designs, based in Conyers, GA

• Dianna King, Eat UNrestricted, based in Lithonia, GA

• Ja’Nique Blocker, Sconnet, based in Marietta, GA

• Marnetia Amaning, Sincerely Tied, based in Snellville, GA

• Janeen Harrell, iJ DESIGN STUDIO, based in Chicago, IL

• Yewande Odusanwo, Zora Digital, based in Chicago, IL

• Shanika Valcour-LeDuff, Labor and Love, based in New Orleans, LA

• Natasha Brown-Wainwright, B’More Made with Pride, based in Baltimore, MD

• Jessica Austin, Creative Carvings, based in Grand Rapids, MI

• Mashell Lawson, Soul Stretch Yoga & Wellness, based in Warren, MI

• Nijalon Jackson-Causey, Afredanz Dance Center, based in Moss Point, MS

• Kiera Gardner, Blend of Soul, based in Chapel Hill, NC

• Nancey Harris, Vontelle, based in Brooklyn, NY

• Samantha Sinclair, Pathway to Purpose, based in Brooklyn, NY

• Cathleen Trigg-Jones, iWomanTV, based in New York, NY

• Amber Hammond, Ciela Handmade, based in Columbus, OH

• Nimilolu Fafowora, The Beem Box, based in Medford, OR

• Shunta Grant, Best Today, based in Greer, SC

• Janita Gilliam, Jabber Talk Speech and Consulting, based in Prosper, TX

• Tosin Ojo, CITSAP Consulting, based in Richmond, TX

The funding for the Sage Invest in Progress grant program is managed through the Sage Foundation, which was established in 2016 to bring to life Sage’s ambition for social impact. Working with Sage colleagues, customers, and partners, the mission of the Sage Foundation is to tackle societal and economic inequality through investments in education, technology, and the environment to give individuals, communities, and our planet the opportunity to thrive.

As a tribute to Black women entrepreneurs, The AFRO will be held the 2nd annual Black Business Matters EXPOhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQJ6Lpzqy5I. (Screenshot)

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