Wacif Announces Inaugural Cohort for the Ascend Capital Accelerator

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, May 8, 2017

Jeremy Cullimore, (202) 529-5505

Wacif Announces Inaugural Cohort for the Ascend Capital Accelerator

24 entrepreneurs join a new accelerator focused on strengthening local women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color to achieve growth

Washington, D.C. (May 8, 2017) – The Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) is proud to announce the inaugural class for its Ascend Capital Accelerator. Ascend is an intensive eight-week program for DC-based entrepreneurs of color and women entrepreneurs designed to strengthen their business and ability to access growth capital.

“As we end last week’s celebration of National Small Business Week, we continue the important work of elevating entrepreneurs who are following their dreams as business owners by celebrating our 24 new Ascend Entrepreneurs,” says Harold Pettigrew, Wacif’s Executive Director. “Ascend represents a focused priority of our mission to create equitable opportunities for the hardworking entrepreneurs who are driving our local economy. Ascend will strengthen their ability to grow and create jobs, and address Wacif’s greater goal of empowering entrepreneurs with the knowledge and social capital needed to drive success.”

The inaugural class of 24 Ascend Entrepreneurs comprises a balanced and diverse group chosen from a competitive applicant pool of over 60 entrepreneurs from throughout the District of Columbia. From June to August, participants in the Ascend program explore best practices in four core areas of 1) business model optimization, 2) operations and management, 3) marketing and sales, and 4) finance and capital readiness. Ascend Entrepreneurs will not only learn from, but also leverage each other’s range of work and background, while meeting and connecting with other local entrepreneurs and business leaders to best position themselves for growth.

The Ascend Capital Accelerator program will be offered annually with the next application period opening in the fall of 2017. For more information on the Ascend Capital Accelerator, please visit www.wacif.org/ascend.

Below is a list of the 24 entrepreneurs in the inaugural cohort of the Ascend Capital Accelerator:

  • Sarah Bayot, Kicheko Goods
  • Monjia Belizaire, Simply Sustainability
  • June Blanks, Junius Cold Brew Coffee Company
  • Christina Marie Chambers, Black Pearl Tart
  • Cleashay China-Sutton, Studio Elan Salon & Spa
  • Anthony Clark, Washington Area Network Services
  • Anika Hobbs, Nubian Hueman
  • Xanthia Johnson, Urban Playology
  • Vernestine Laughinghouse, Absolute Organizing Solutions
  • Lindsay Larner, The Cookie Jar DC
  • Emma Hidem Mankey, Sunnyside VR
  • Diana Movius, Dance Loft on 14
  • Victoria Pratt, TRUE Syrups & Garnishes
  • Jennifer Richardson, Chef Jess
  • Nona Richardson, MitchRich Communications
  • William Scurry, 7 Pointe Planning
  • JC Smith, Bailiwick Clothing Company
  • Mallory Sweetbaum, Mallory Shelter Jewelry
  • Michele S. Swinson, Aprilmay Company, Inc.
  • Theresa Watts, Lettie Gooch Enterprises
  • John-Mark Williams, Future Leaders & Young Entrepreneurs (FLYE)
  • Marcus Williams, MW Consulting
  • Catherine Wood, Unbounded Potential
  • Rahama Wright, Shea Yeleen Health and Beauty

The Ascend Capital Accelerator is made possible by the generous support of the District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development, Capital One, Citi Community Development, and JPMorgan & Chase Co.

About Wacif:

The Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) is one of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area’s leading Community Development Financial Institution’s (CDFI), whose mission is to empower underserved communities by providing access to capital and technical assistance. Since 1987, Wacif has invested over $32 million in strategic financing to small businesses, child care and community facilities, and affordable housing developments in underserved communities throughout the Washington, D.C. region. Learn more at www.wacif.org, on Twitter and Facebook.


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