(LOS ANGELES, CALIF.November 9, 2023 – The Los Angeles Urban League partnered with Courvoisier’s philanthropic platform, Foundation 1828, giving local minority small business owners a chance to compete for a $25,000 grant through the Los Angeles Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Center. The partnership was orchestrated by the National Urban League.

The recent Courvoisier Entrepreneurship Awards Pitch Competition was truly an inspiring evening of empowerment. The event, hosted as part of Courvoisier’s multiyear partnership with the National Urban League, successfully took place on Thursday, November 9, at the renowned Gathering Spot in Los Angeles’ historic West Adams district. Four businesses gathered in front of a panel of three industry experts and audience members to present their live pitch.

The entrepreneurs were given five minutes to pitch and judged on a myriad of categories including but not limited to: Business Model, Pitch Execution, Community Focus, and Financial Outlook. They represented several cities across the greater Los Angeles area from Compton and beyond.  Their businesses spanned from the retail trade sector to beauty and to waste management and remediation services industry.

The evening commenced with a signature Courvoisier cocktail hour and networking, where esteemed guests, including local councilmembers Heather Hutt, Council District 10, and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Council District 8, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and community members mingled over fresh ideas and delicious small bites. The program was hosted by Michael Thorpe, Courvoisier Brand Ambassador, and Crystal Mitchell, Business Consultant and Youth Entrepreneurship advocate from the Los Angeles Urban League. The judges consisted of a member from each partnering organizations: Stephanie DeVane, Vice President, Entrepreneurship & Business Development at the National Urban League; Deidre Sherman, Vice President of Finance at the Los Angeles Urban League; and Susan Gibbons, Director of US Marketing for Courvoisier at Beam Suntory.

After compelling pitches, an educational panel discussion commenced, discussing the State of Black Entrepreneurship in LA. “Many factors like post-pandemic and inflation are making it more important for minority business owners to obtain critical resources and support”, said Jamecca Marshall, Vice President of Programs at the Los Angeles Urban League. The panel addressed challenges faced by small business owners and available resources through community partnerships and organizations.

(Photo by Karim Saafir)

Panel dialogue was led by Leilia Lee, Director for Small Business and Economic Development Policy, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass’ Office; JC Lacey, President & CEO, Crenshaw Chamber of Commerce; and Remy Meraz, Co-Founder & CEO, Zella Life, Inc. The educational panel solidified and exemplified the commitment to equipping members of the business community with critical resources and guidance for the Los Angeles.

This significant initiative concluded with the announcement of winners and the presentation of four grants totaling $55,000 to deserving local entrepreneurs. Courvoisier and the Los Angeles Urban League look forward to the continued success and impact of initiatives that support and empower entrepreneurs within the community.

First place: Duncan Hauling – Duncan Hauling is on a mission to be the premier provider of efficient and co-friendly debris removal solutions. Their goal is to help their clients maintain clean and safe spaces while minimizing the impact on the planet. Duncan Hauling won $25,000.

First Runner Up: Click Kits – Click Kits is a new business that packages gifts with care and deliver a deeper sense of connection. The goal is to sell products themed packages (“kits”) that feature trending items, offer elements of customization, and promote or include samples of items sourced from minority-owned businesses. Click Kits won $15,000.

Second Runner Up: Skinshine Beauty – Skinshine Beauty confidently helps people hydrate and nourish their skin with clean, natural, and safe ingredients. Skinshine Beauty won $10,000.

Third Runner Up: Urbanly Chic – Urbanly Chic endeavors to offer unique, trendy clothing and accessories to women of all sizes, at affordable prices. Urbanly Chic won $5,000.

“The partnership between Courvoisier and the Los Angeles Urban League stands as a testament to fostering excellence. I extend heartfelt gratitude to the National Urban League for orchestrating this remarkable opportunity and forging a meaningful partnership with Foundation 1828 and Courvoisier,” stated Cynthia Mitchell-Heard, Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer for the Los Angeles Urban League. “We eagerly anticipate further collaboration with Foundation 1828 and Courvoisier in the future, fostering impactful initiatives and continuing our shared commitment to community and excellence.”

For more information about the Entrepreneurship Awards Pitch Competition, please contact LaCora Stephens at [email protected], (323) 299-9960 x1001.

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About The Los Angeles Urban League

The mission of the Los Angeles Urban League, which is an affiliate of the National Urban League, is to help African Americans and others in underserved communities achieve their highest true social parity, economic self-reliance, power, and civil rights. The League promotes economic empowerment through education and job training, housing and community development, workforce development, entrepreneurship, health, and quality of life. For more information about The Los Angeles Urban League, please visit www.laul.org.

About Foundation 1828

In 1828, Felix Courvoisier created a house that was welcoming to all and deeply believed in supporting the makers and craftspeople in its hometown of Jarnac, France. Ever since, the House of Courvoisier has recognized the importance of nurturing the drive, passion, and creativity in these individuals around the globe – especially those who may have the odds stacked against them.

Foundation 1828™ is designed to unify this mission and make a lasting impact by assessing the critical needs of underserved communities and to build authentic programming that will provide long-lasting benefits to entrepreneurs for years to come.

About Courvoisier Cognac

Maison Courvoisier was founded by Félix Courvoisier in 1828 in Jarnac, France. Courvoisier is the Most Awarded Cognac House* with a range of expressions that appeal to a variety of cognac preferences and lifestyles, including VS, VSOP, XO, and the ultimate expression of the House, L’Essence de Courvoisier. Based on the joyful, generous, and sophisticated house style and commitment to community and craftsmanship, Courvoisier continues to value its relationships with local artisans and winegrowers to produce its high-quality, award-winning cognac portfolio. For more information on Courvoisier, please visit www.courvoisier.com.

*Based on 20 top spirits competitions since 2019.

Original Post: December 5, 2023.