Rhode Island

Rhode Island business leaders launch new coalition to help underserved entrepreneurs

Local businesses support organization leaders announced the launch of the Business Empowerment Alliance of Rhode Island (BEARI), a coalition that aims to expand resources and enhance service to underrepresented businesses.

Executives from Social Enterprise Greenhouse, the Rhode Island Black Business Association, the Center for Women & Enterprise and more celebrated the launch Thursday morning.

To help women founders, founders of color and women-owned and minority-owned businesses that face more barriers compared to other businesses and entrepreneurs, BEARI said it aims to help them by sharing information and creating new opportunities for collaboration, mentorship and business support.

“The US Small Business Association Office of Advocacy’s 2023 Small Business Profile Report shows that black owned businesses are on the rise post-pandemic in the state of Rhode Island. Yet significant barriers such as access to capital, network, and resources vital to their growth and development still exist,” President and CEO of the Rhode Island Black Business Association and BEARI Co-Chair Lisa Ranglin. “By joining forces, we can build an ecosystem of resources, and cultivate a robust network that propels businesses with the greatest needs and most opportunities to thrive.”

The funding for the coalition comes from the Small Business Administration and through a $248,000 Rhode Island Commerce Innovation Network Matching Grant. BEARI said the five organizations involved with the coalition also secured $1 million over two years.

“Rhode Island’s economy relies on the more than 100,000 small businesses, especially the thousands of women, veteran, Hispanic and minority-owned businesses, to keep our communities vibrant,” Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Liz Tanner said. “Providing small business owners and entrepreneurs with tools such as support services, access to capital, and networking and mentorship opportunities, enables them towards a path of success.”

The launching event was held at the Incred-A-Bowl Food Co. in East Providence, BEARI officials said.

According to BEARI, this East Providence business is minority owned and manage a Fresh Start program to employ “those deemed unemployable.”

“It means so much to me to host this event at Incred-A-Bowl. They are an absolute inspiration and a wonderful example of the success that businesses can achieve when they are connected with the resources, networks, and capital needed to thrive,” CEO of Social Enterprise Greenhouse and BEARI Co-Chair Julie Owens said. “That is our mission with BEARI – to work together and make those connections.”

BEARI is made up of eight non-profit organizations.

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