The Empower Project was created by a consortium of nine firms with the intention of amplifying the voices of Black-owned businesses. Too often, in both the world at large and within the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) space, Black voices are underrepresented, leading to greater inequality and a further widening of the wealth gap. The goal of The Empower Project is to begin eradicating those disparities.
The firms making up The Empower Project are all recognized leaders in their respective fields, which include branding, marketing, communications, food manufacturing, e-commerce, financial strategy, startup investing, financial strategy, data analysis, and legal issues. Together, they will be investing nearly $700,000 in services to a Black-owned CPG business to help it achieve rapid growth and the opportunity to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace. Applications are being accepted now at caempowerproject.org.
"Our goal is to capitalize on the strengths of our strategic partners and to jointly invest in a brand that we believe has the highest probability of success and can make the biggest positive impact on Black lives," said Steve Gaither, chief marketing officer at C.A. Fortune, who first conceived the idea for the project, alongside William Madden from Whole Brain Consulting, and brought the other partners together.
Eligible businesses must be Black-owned or founded with current annual revenue between $150,000 and $10 million. Additionally, the business must also be able to dedicate time and energy to manage this project and have the ability to cover the hard costs of external expenses for items including packaging, printing, and distribution.
"The consumer-packaged goods industry is a difficult space for any new company to break into," said Kyle Gardner, CEO and co-founder, Dobson Avenue Capital Partners. "My core business is focused on supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs and I am eager to not only provide funding to this business, but also to share my business acumen with them to help take them to the next level. I am so grateful to be a part of this project with all of these other powerhouse partners."
Eligible businesses are invited to apply through Jan. 15, 2021. Prior to that deadline, there will be a kickoff event to allow applicants to meet the agencies and individuals who will be working in concert to help the chosen concept reach its fullest potential. The Empower Informational 101 Event will be 11am CST Dec. 15, 2020, via Hopin.
After careful consideration of all applicants, five finalists will be chosen and invited to attend a virtual pitch slam Feb. 16, where they will be able to pitch their business venture to the sponsors. The winner will be announced Feb. 26, 2021.
C.A. Fortune, the private-held, full service-consumer brands agency, is the title sponsor of The Empower Project. They offer their clients a comprehensive solution including sales management, an outsourced sales accelerator, marketing and branding, insights, retail activation, digital and e-comm services, and are eager to host all partners in this initiative.
The nine firms partnering with The Empower Project are:
- C.A. Branding will be providing brand strategy, creative design, and marketing materials.
- C.A. E-Comm will provide an e-commerce channel strategy, introductions to major online retailers, content strategy, and operations training.
- Davis Wright Tremaine LLP will provide legal consultation.
- Dobson Avenue Capital Partners will provide advisory and strategic guidance, as well as a monetary investment.
- JConnelly will develop a communications plan, thought leadership development, media pitches, ongoing reputation management and media measurement and evaluation in a bundle of services.
- The agency 1o8, who is offering website development, SEO, paid social and search, and email marketing.
- Propeller Industries will provide financial strategy and guidance, accounting and bookkeeping services, performance analysis and cash flow planning and other services.
- SPINS is offering an annual data subscription, and market data on the natural enhanced and regional grocery channels.
- Whole Brain Consulting will provide the chosen firm with sourcing of raw materials, sourcing and negotiating with contract manufacturers, product and production guides, complete quality control and food safety system.