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Keep our Shops on the Block Launches Digital Accelerator Program for Diverse Small Businesses
By Sentinel News Service
Published October 28, 2021

Under Together for LA’s initiative, 24 brick-and-mortar businesses to participate in this invite-only program  

Tunua Thrash-Ntuk (courtesy photo)

Following the success of the Keep Our Shops on the Block grant earlier this year, which deployed financial aid to 481 small brick-and-mortar businesses in the retail and personal care sector, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation Los Angeles (LISC LA) has expanded the program and the services offered and launched an invite-only digital literacy accelerator for diverse-owned businesses. The virtual accelerator program is designed to help Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) owned small businesses in the personal care, retail and food industries utilize digital technology towards business growth. This program was made possible through the Together for LA partnership and the generosity of Wells Fargo.

The Digital Accelerator Program inaugural cohort will consist of 24 local businesses and will run from October 18 through December 10, 2021. At no cost to the participants, each business will have the opportunity to access digital growth strategy plans, one-on-one advising support, networking events and more through a customized program.

“Having a strong online presence has been essential to the survival of small businesses, but many have been left behind, said Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director of LISC LA. “LISC LA is proud to work with our Together for LA partners to expand the Keep our Shops on the Block program and provide our local diverse-owned small businesses with the digital resources and tools to succeed.”
LISC LA will operate the virtual accelerator program under the Together for LA initiative – a strategic partnership with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, The Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, The Institute for Sustainable Development, the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles – to strengthen women and diverse-owned businesses impacted financially from the COVID-19 pandemic. This collaborative effort, which aims to provide no cost technical assistance and small business resources, was made possible through the support of Wells Fargo.

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“The pandemic highlighted the lack of digital adaptation for too many of our diverse-owned businesses, said Gregg Sherkin, Wells Fargo Senior Vice President, Social Impact and Sustainability. “Through the Digital Accelerator Program, small businesses will receive the resources needed to remain competitive in this new digital landscape. We are proud to support this program and hope it will benefit our community.”

“Throughout the pandemic we have found, businesses who were quick to pivot, leveraged technology and had access to resources were those who were resilient through the economic challenges of the past year,” said Maria S. Salinas, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “Keep our Shops on the Block Digital Accelerator program and services is an effective resource to level the playing field for diverse-owned businesses. When our diverse-owned businesses thrive, so do our communities.”

Female Owner Of Start Up Coffee Shop Or Restaurant Turning Round Open Sign On Door

“The Digital Accelerator Program is highly responsive to the needs of our BIPOC-owned small businesses right now as more commerce is moving online every day and LA-based entrepreneurs of color have amazing products and services to offer,” said Bill Allen, President and CEO of LAEDC. “This collaborative program is a critical first step for the Los Angeles region to be a digitally equitable area for anyone to follow their business dreams and build a competitive workforce.”

The Center for Innovation, Excellence and Leadership (IXL Center), which specializes in management consulting and capacity building, will be working with LISC LA to drive the program forward over the next 6 weeks. The IXL Center helps businesses build up their organizations through advisory, coaching, workshops, speeches, and training that are customized to achieve innovation and growth.

“IXL Center believes that there is a lot more to be done to really have equity, inclusion, and social justice in our workplace and communities,” said Hitendra Patel, Managing Director of IXL Center. “IXL Center wants to do its part by focusing on reducing the racial wealth gap, by helping BIPOC small business owners grow their businesses and uplift the community. We are honored to partner with LISC LA using our Digital Accelerator. Our unique approach has been successfully implemented in Boston over the last two years, and our methodology for LISC LA will help Main Street businesses grow by 2X. Together we can, and we must!”

For many Angelenos, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a growing divide between small, brick-and-mortar businesses and the e-commerce sector. LISC LA and its Together for LA partners are dedicated to helping diverse business owners adapt to a more digital world and economy – ensuring an equitable road to recovery.

 

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“Being a native Angeleno with a retail shop in the heart of Los Angeles this LISC LA accelerator is the dream program I’ve been waiting for,” said Rheena Mae, CEO of MaeMae Jewelry, one of the businesses in the inaugural cohort. “I have so many aspirations of expanding the love, good juju and reach of MaeMae that I feel this cohort can help me make a reality!”

 

For more information on the Keep our Shops on the Block Digital Accelerator program and the businesses in the cohort, visit here.

 

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