Minority business owners put their best foot forward in grant pitch competition

Three Topekan minority business owners are closer to their dreams thanks to a grant pitch contest.
Published: Jun. 22, 2023 at 10:48 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Three Topekan minority business owners are closer to their dreams thanks to a grant pitch contest.

Three lucky winners were expecting to win $5,000 each at this year’s pitch contest.

It’s put on through Network Kansas, Entrepreneur Business Basics and hosted through the Omni Circle Group.

Susana Ortiz, took first place with her counseling business.

“So I wasn’t really expecting this to be my night to win something so amazing but I’m really grateful for it at the same time I was also sort of rooting for a lot of businesses i saw here,” says Susana Ortiz, Owner of Ad Astra Per Astra Counseling.

Fatima Perez Luthi scored second place for her startup that aims to help people achieve financial freedom.

“There’s been a lot of tears with starting a business and leading an organization where it was basically family but it really makes it that much closer to achieving what we want,” says Fatima Perez Luthi, Owner of The Grind Coaching & Consulting.

Chef LaMona secured third place for their cooking and catering business.

“We felt like this was our time cause we’ve done some other pitch competition and didn’t win but we feel like it prepared us for today,” says Nicole Malone, COO, at Chef LaMona.

Fifteen entrepreneurs participated and each had three minutes to sell their idea to a panel of three judges.

The contest aims to directly support minority businesses with their back office, equipment cost, rental assistance, or general system needs.

“The funds will be used to purchased equipment that we need in order for us to mass produce and freeze our gumbo so we can then distribute it and sell it in grocery stores,” says Malone.

“So one of the things I’m most excited for is expanding my business from an individual private practice to a group practice and that’s just because of a need that exists currently for mental health services...,” says Ortiz.

Omni Circle surprised participants by adding an extra $5,000 to the pot, divided among the winners.

“Take risks. Without risks you can’t reap the reward,” says Perez Luthi when asked what her advice to new business owners is.

“Don’t stop if you believe in yourself don’t stop. If you believe in your product, your brand, what you’re doing...continue...,” says LaMona Scroggins, CEO at Chef LaMona.

Wyandotte County, Manhattan and Lawrence will also hold pitch contests.