Invest Atlanta and The Guild Announce First Cohort for Accelerate Southside Program

Invest Atlanta and The Guild announced the first cohort for the 2019 Community Wealth Building Accelerator, the first component of the Accelerate Southside small business development program launched in July.

Accelerate Southside is a two-part pilot program that includes an immersive business accelerator training offered by The Guild (2019 Community Wealth Building Business Accelerator) and a commercial down payment assistance pilot program that is currently under development by Invest Atlanta. With a focus on the 30-acre Pittsburgh Yards™ development located on the Atlanta Beltline Southside Trail, the down payment assistance pilot program will support entrepreneurs interested in purchasing a shipping container for their business and locating it at the Pittsburgh Yards Shipping Container Garden.

Recently, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Wells Fargo, the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, and the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship have come on as partners of the program. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, and Wells Fargo have provided grant funding to assist with program operations, and the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will be the host location for all classes, events, and cohort graduation.

Through the 2019 Community Wealth Building Business Accelerator, the cohort will learn advanced business fundamentals to boost business profitability, real estate basics to assist in acquiring commercial real estate, and new economic models that will allow them to build community wealth. Each business will also have access to peer coaches and shared back-office services.

"In a city known as the Black Mecca, there is no reason why black businesses should be valued 11 times less than their counterparts,” said Nikishka Iyengar, Founder & CEO at The Guild. “Our program aims to provide comprehensive technical assistance and create new pathways for these businesses to access capital to close the racial entrepreneurship and wealth gap in the city."

Cohort I consists of 21 minority-owned businesses, primarily in the food and beverage, beauty and wellness, and apparel and home décor sectors:

  • Majestea
  • Mouthfeel Culinary Co.
  • Shay Latte Coffee
  • 95th St. Tacos
  • Tassili’s Raw Reality
  • IWI Fresh Garden Day Spa
  • Ebrik Coffee Room
  • Clutch Bicycle Shop
  • Negril Village ATL / Ms. Icey’s Kitchen
  • The Free & Rowdy, LLC / Atealle
  • Hey Baby Ultrasound Boutique
  • Endulge Cupcake Boutique
  • Buenos Dias Café / Kosher Guacamole Group
  • Free Birds Vegan Bakery, LLC
  • Coco Cakes By Coco LLC
  • Carrot Dog / Food For Thought Café
  • Zinah Artistic Retail LLC
  • Rapid Recovery and Restoration
  • Dope Coffee Company LLC

“Creating an Atlanta where all entrepreneurs can thrive starts with providing equitable access to opportunities. To help minority-owned businesses take advantage of Atlanta’s dynamic and growing economy, we have to be innovative about the programs and products that we offer,” said Erika Smith, Southside Community & Economic Development Manager at Invest Atlanta. “With our partners at The Guild, we are using the Community Wealth Building Accelerator part of Accelerate Southside to help prepare these business owners for continued success in the City of Atlanta.”

In 2018, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that the City of Atlanta would join the City Accelerator program, an initiative of the Citi Foundation and Living Cities, and receive $100,000 in grant funding to support small businesses and job growth. The City of Atlanta’s initiative, Accelerate Southside, will help address major challenges faced by minority-owned businesses and further provide more access to opportunities for more Atlantans.

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