From left: Furad Tate, owner of Inspire Hospitality Group, poses with D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development Director Kristi Whitfield and Babatunde Oloyede of the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization to support the WeAspire Pitch Program. (Courtesy of Charlene Louis/DSLBD)
From left: Furad Tate, owner of Inspire Hospitality Group, poses with D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development Director Kristi Whitfield and Babatunde Oloyede of the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization to support the WeAspire Pitch Program. (Courtesy of Charlene Louis/DSLBD)

The WeAspire Pitch Program, which focuses on aiding returning citizens in building and growing their businesses in D.C., awarded five winners $10,000 each in its most recent competition.

The winners were Princess Brownfield, Crown Elevate; Sharon Wise, Wise Workz; Maurice Dixon, Chef Reese; Asia Stevenson, DripOrDrown and Kinta Brown, United Mindz.

The contest was sponsored by the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development in concert with the D.C. Public Library and the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization.

The winners were selected from a field of 15, who had the chance to pitch their businesses for funding on Saturday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in northwest Washington. This round of the program started in May with 26 returning citizens taking a 12-week course that taught leadership development, accounting, and marketing, in addition, to offering mentors for participants.

“Successful entrepreneurs aren’t the ones who don’t fall; they’re the ones who keep getting up,” said DSLBD Director Kristi Whitfield. “WeAspire recognizes the unique barriers many returning citizen entrepreneurs face when starting a business, addresses those challenges, and has become a national model for developing and training successful small business owners as a result.”  

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