Wacif Kicks Off 2022 Ascend Capital Accelerator Thrive Cohort

This year’s Thrive Cohort will accelerate and support 12 entrepreneurs of color navigating the recovery of the COVID-19 pandemic across the Greater Washington, D.C. region.

Washington, D.C. (April 28, 2022) – Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif) today announced the participants for the 2022 Ascend Capital Accelerator Cohort. The Thrive Cohort includes 12 ambitious entrepreneurs of color who will build the resilience and growth of their businesses by participating in the nine-week, intensive, cohort-based program adapting to the new normalcy of disruption.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the business landscape. For many of our clients, the idea of thriving in this new environment may seem out of reach, but with the right tools and support, we know it is possible,” said Wacif Chief Program Officer Kimberly D. Gayle. ” Wacif is excited to kick off this year’s Thrive Cohort to help entrepreneurs of color navigate the emerging marketplace and build resilient businesses that will withstand disruption now and in the future.”

Wacif’s award winning capital accelerator program offers a holistic, hands-on approach consisting of interactive workshops, one-on-one consultations with world-class experts, and individualized support for its cohort members. With a focus on navigating the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing recovery, the 2022 Thrive Cohort will provide the space and structure necessary to support growth and long-term success of its cohort members.

“Moving into the post-pandemic world, we face a new normal requiring us to think more broadly and deeply about market disruptions, especially as they impact entrepreneurs of color,” said Wacif Education and Advisory Services Manager Rasul Sha’ir. “Our Ascend Capital Accelerator Program is more relevant than ever as we continue to focus on inclusive entrepreneurship. Today, we are excited to welcome 12 cohort members into our 2022 Ascend Thrive Cohort.”

Below are the entrepreneurs in the Ascend Capital Accelerator Thrive Cohort:

  1. Melanie E. Bates | Melanie Bates Consulting LLC 
  1. Jennifer Dunn | Bunifu 
  1. Shawn Chiambah | Gopher Wood Corp DBA Maxcare Pharmacy  
  1. Cherlyn Freeman-Watkins | Results One, LLC 
  1. Keil Ifill | Aridai 
  1. Dr. Justine Kavle | Kavle Consulting, LLC 
  1. Keturah Lee | The Well-Versed Interpreter 
  1. Nicole Nixon | Listing Central, LLC 
  1. Thanhthuy Nguyen | 1727 Mass Ave LLC 
  1. Pablo Ortiz | Aurora Market 
  1. Aesha Ray | Envy Us Beauty Supply 
  1. Mike Utaegbulam | Black Digital 

Ascend Capital Accelerator is one component of Wacif’s mission to increase equity and economic opportunity in the Washington, D.C. area. By providing access to affordable capital and funding opportunities, a full suite of advisory and financial services, networking opportunities, and cohort-based learning, Wacif commits to advancing lasting economic growth in historically disinvested communities.


About the Washington Area Community Investment Fund 

Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) is one of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area’s leading Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) focused on small business development. Wacif’s mission is to increase equity and economic opportunity in underserved communities in the Washington, D.C. area by investing knowledge, social, and financial capital in low-and-moderate-income entrepreneurs. To learn more about Wacif’s mission, visit www.wacif.org