Haitian business owners and startups were presented with a unique opportunity through the Brooklyn Public Library’s inaugural PowerUP! Kreyol business plan competition in partnership with the New York City Department of Small Business Services.
Three Haitian small business owners were awarded various amounts amounting to $10,000 in startup funding.
“PowerUP! Kreyol adapts a proven, successful business development model to meet the unique needs of Brooklyn’s Haitian community,” Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson said in a press release. “As the Haitian community in Brooklyn continues to grow, the Library will continue to provide its members with the resources they need to find jobs, start businesses and contribute to the economic vitality of the borough.”
“Immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs and vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs, and especially in Brooklyn, the Haitian community is making a real difference,” Andrew Schwartz, acting commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services, added in a statement. “By partnering with the Brooklyn Public Library and HABNET, we are delivering valuable City resources to immigrant entrepreneurs directly in their neighborhoods at trusted institutions. I thank our partners and congratulate the great winners announced today.”
The competition kicked off back in April where interested business owners attended free weekly workshops and classes hosted by former PowerUP! Winner, Stacey Toussaint, which addressed different parts in creating a business plan.
Securing first place is Vicki Sylvain, owner of The Shoe-B — a clutch that transforms and expands to become a shoe bag to fit up to a 13” stiletto platform heel — admits to seeking guidance from three different counselors for critique of her winning business plan.
“We also went to counselors in different agencies of the city; we were only required to do one but I think I went to three different ones just to get their input and assistance through the process. They also had other workshops throughout the summer to adjust the different components of the business plan to get a better idea of how to approach it,” Sylvain said.
Sharing the pedestal with Sylvain is Dr. Nathalie Guillanme and her “mobile wellness experience,” as well as Hardy Hyppolite with Kreyol Kwizin — a business that will sell premium organic Haitian food products to grocery stores and retail customers — securing second and third place, respectively.
With her newly earned cash, Sylvain’s next steps is to further improve on her product and launch her business’ website.
“My next step is basically focusing on the website and enhancing the bag. Bringing it up a few notches but I have a good head start now to help making it a better bag,” she said.