On April 8th, 2021 the Entrepreneur Business Basics (EBB) held their latest graduation and pitch contest. The participants completed an extensive 12-week program learning how to effectively start and grow a business, and this particular event was nothing short of amazing.
Kira Cheree, business coach, author, and CEO of EBB, started this company in 2014, and while doing one-on-one business consulting for Black entrepreneurs, she began to fall in love with the process. However, she soon noticed something missing from the African American entrepreneurial scene.
“I saw so many disparities and so many gaps in the community for Black entrepreneurs,” said Kira. “It was easy to see right away what those gaps were – access to capital, networking, trust for our community, and cultural competency.”
Kira has made it her mission to help these budding entrepreneurs with the fundamentals of business by offering a number of programs to those in the greater Kansas City area and surrounding regions. This year the company has graduated 100 African American entrepreneurs, and their most recent graduation and pitch contest was nothing short of amazing.
“It was so profound because the last go-around was full of Black women entrepreneurs. This particular cohort was just full of Black girl magic and Black girl power.”
I had the pleasure of speaking with the three winners of the pitch contest, and they shared their experience with EBB and how the 12-week program helped prepare them for the next step in their entrepreneurial journey.
Kayla McClellan won first place at the pitch contest. She’s the co-owner of Queen Vibes KC, a wellness studio for Black women that offers dance and fitness classes by professionals who represent them. Kayla said that she and her business partner, Olivia, noticed the lack of Black women fitness spaces.
“But why? It’s not like Black women don’t work out. Why is it that we’re usually the two Black girls making eye contact in the room?”
She continued to tell me that after doing some research, she noticed many Black women prioritize community when visiting fitness facilities and due the lack of representation, it can sometimes be difficult for them to make fitness a regular routine. With Queen Vibes KC, she wants to provide a space for Black women to feel comfortable in their skin and ultimately encourage more women to get on their fitness journey.
“We need a space where the music speaks to our soul; we need a space that’s for us.”
Wanting to make this vision a reality, Kayla spoke about her research on starting a business and how easy it can be to get lost in a sea of information. She then went to her aunt for business advice, who directed her to EBB and their 12-week business program.
“It fit into my schedule and it’s geared toward Black entrepreneurs and I was like, that’s a space I want to be in.”
She explained how well thought out the curriculum was and how Kira showed them how to apply it to their business. She also emphasized the community aspect of the program and how she never felt she was on her own.
“It’s so helpful that she [Kira] walks you through it. It’s one thing to read something and fill in the blanks, but during the lessons, she asked what we thought about this or what we thought about that, so it was really helpful.”
Though the course was challenging, Kayla said that it prepared her and her business partner for many aspects of their growing business.
LaRonda Lanera, owner of We Got It Covered Catering, won second place at the pitch contest. After combining her love of cooking and DIY projects, she created her catering business.
“Cooking for my friends and family is something that I enjoy doing, so I turned it into a business.”
After winning a G.I.F.T. (Generating Income For Tomorrow) grant, she was gifted with an accountant, a marketing team, a business lawyer, and a business consultant to take her business to the next level. Her business consultant was Kira, the CEO of Entrepreneur Business Basics, and she informed LaRonda of the business program.
“I learned so much. Going through EBB is literally like going through a college course.”
LaRonda said that after going through the entrepreneurial program, she reformed her entire business plan. She also mentioned that the program directors made her and her cohort feel as if they were part of a community. She spoke of how the directors were easily reachable and were there to answer any questions she had.
“They’re very hands-on, they’re very thorough with the work, and they break everything down.”
Thinking back to the pitch contest she was in last month, she said it was similar to the entrepreneur reality show, “Shark Tank.” She said that from day one, they learned how to properly write and deliver a business pitch, so when the day arrived, she felt very prepared.
During her time in the EBB program, LaRonda even got an offer from a children’s camp to do food management.
“They needed me to do a bid, and I’m a little nervous because I had never done one before. I called Kira and she walked through it, and I got that bid, and they sent me two more camps.”
Since the graduation and pitch contest, LaRonda has been busy working with camps, offering catering and food management, and she attributes much of her success to EBB and all that she learned during the program. She one day hopes to own a warehouse in the inner city and hire more people for her catering company who are in need of work.
I had the chance to talk with Champagne Washington, owner of Peace in Pain Candles. Champagne won third place in EBB’s pitch contest and she informed me how her business came to fruition.
“My business is all about mental healing with aromatherapy. I started my business two years ago due to me needing to find something to do to get me out of my own depression.”
Champagne shared that she lost her father to gun violence and that making candles helped her cope during that difficult time. She got introduced to EBB during an event she was a part of. Her company received a surprise spotlight segment during the event and Kira happened to be one of the guest speakers.
“One day on Facebook she just surprised me with a scholarship for EBB and it really shocked me. I didn’t expect it, it came out of nowhere. I was really happy.”
Champagne stated that she didn’t initially think of selling her products because it was a hobby for her, but she soon received much support and people interested in buying, so she took a chance and transitioned Peace in Pain Candles to a business.
“I just started meeting all these people that saw something in me. They took chances, and that’s what Kira did for me with EBB, she took a chance on me. It helped me learn more about running a business.”
She said the program’s curriculum was extremely helpful, and each week she was able to incorporate what they were learning in class into her business.
I also spoke with Champagne in regards to the graduation and pitch contest, and she stated that it was an amazing experience. She admitted that although she was a little nervous, she loved having the chance to showcase her business, as well as hear more about the businesses of the other participants.
“It was amazing to see how much the classes were helping all of us.”
The program has given Champagne the tools she needs to continue bettering the lives of others through her candles and other aromatherapy products.
Entrepreneur Business Basics is doing great work in the African American community and shows that it’s possible for us to create successful businesses. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, I urge you to check out the programs EBB offers and continue to strive for excellence.
If you would like to view EBB’s latest graduation and pitch contest, click here and enter the following passcode: &16y.3hc
To support more Black-owned businesses, click here.