Our Participants

Meet Fall 2022 Cohort

Jorie Hazel

Owner of Bill's Grill

A wife, mother of five, singer turned barbecue enthusiast! Jorie Hazel has always loved family picnics where the aroma of smoked meats and barbecue filled the air. What once was a hobby and Zen moment for her husband became a passion for them both. So, in 2014, she put her and her husband in business known as "Bill's Grill" and created an amazing sauce that accompanies their food - which is sold in select Whole Foods Market in the Chicago area. As a young girl, she has always loved recipes, mixing seasonings and sauces to create what her husband calls "A party in your mouth”. When you taste Bills grill you taste her husband Bills happiness and her "party in your mouth" because it provides people with what they love to do.

Aisha Murff

Owner of Haires Gulf Shrimp

Aisha Murff owner of Haires Gulf Shrimp a family ran business on the south side of Chicago. Haire’s started out in a caboose 20 years ago, currently Haire’s has a brick & motor restaurant, and a food truck. Haire’s has been voted top ten fried shrimp by Thrillist Chicago. Aisha’s background is PR and represented clients such as Romane Fragrances, Ebony Magazine, Essence Festival, Lafayette 148 for Neiman Marcus, Illusions Cosmetics, BET Network, National Basketball Association, Bravo Network, and OWN Network.

Aisha received her BA in Mass Communications from Shaw University where she was nominated Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities. Organizations/Affiliations- Goldman Sachs Small Business Co Hort Alum, Media Relations Co-Chair Junior League of Chicago, Luncheon Circle of Beverly Hills, CA and the Publicity Club of Chicago.

Charmaine V. Rickette

President and CEO of Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken

Charmaine V. Rickette, president and CEO of Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken, it was founded by parents Gus and Mary Rickette over 50 years ago. She is the youngest of their 12 children. Charmaine has breathed new life into the concept of the local family-owned restaurant, building a sustainable business through operating system updates, a strong leadership team and a commitment to employee training and engagement. Under her leadership, history was made in 2006 when Uncle Remus Chicken became the first non-national and black owned restaurant to operate in a Wal-Mart. Charmaine believes in rehabilitation and second chances and has worked with city, state, and civic organizations to help transition inmates and displaced person’s back into the workforce. Former gang members, substance abusers and homeless citizens are now a part of her management team.

Brianna Harison

CEO of Bri's Dance Place

Senior Tech Consultant Turned Entrepreneur, Empowering Women, Specifically Moms to Get Paid to Pursue their Passion!

Highly creative and self-motivated entrepreneur with grant writing, speaking, coaching, dance consulting, choreography, project management, marketing, sales, and business development experience. Proven leadership and interpersonal skills, excellent verbal and written communication skills. Detail oriented and highly organized, with the ability to work efficiently under pressure as a team player.

Binika Henderson 

Founder of Heritage Real Estate

Binika Henderson is a leader in the world of real estate, with over 15 years in the real estate industry, she has flipped over 50 homes, and sold millions in production & owns/operates 3 Airbnb/Short Term Rentals throughout Northwest Indiana. She specializes in property flipping, real estate investing, working with first time and repeat buyers, property management and Airbnb management. She provides the highest quality of personal service to meet the real estate needs of her clients. From residential marketing to investments, she can focus client's goals and achieve the results they desire. In addition, she is an educator, trainer, author, and speaker. She got her start in sales after graduating college but wanted to take command over my schedule and generate more income.  In 2007, she got her real estate license and started selling properties for a large real estate company. Within a few months she closed her first sale and her excitement and entrepreneurial instincts drove her to launch her own real estate business, however, her dreams were put on pause when the market crashed. She found herself in a great deal of debt.In 2013 and only 32 years-old, she founded Heritage Real Estate, a full-service real estate and property management company. Binika has been featured on several media outlets including the cover of Top Agent Magazine, Accion Chicago Annual Report, featured in Women Doing Big Magazine and Award Always one to give back,

Dr. Amera McCoy

Founder of Minority Business Circle (MBC)

Dr. Amera McCoy is an Industrial Organizational Psychologist and serial Entrepreneur passionate about advancing diverse business owners. Her passion led to the founding of Minority Business Circle (MBC). MBC is a Tech Marketplace focused on positively impacting minority small business startups from inception to exit by providing critical resources on one platform. Dr. McCoy started her career in the financial industry after leaving for small business ownership. She started her consulting company McCoy Consulting LLC, where Dr. Amera works with companies to create sustainable employee programs and implement strategic solutions.

Dr. McCoy is also a well-known writer and has worked with celebrities on memoirs and creative projects, including Grammy Nominated Singer Syleena Johnsons' book, “The Weight is Over.” She is a current Mogul and Forbes Coaches Council member, where you can find her most recent writing on business problems. Dr. McCoy resides in Chicago, IL, with her 11-year-old daughter.

Victoria 'Tori' Prince

Creative Founder and CEO of Tori Prince Beauty, LLC, and the Chicago Skin Lab

Victoria 'Tori' Prince is a Licensed Esthetician, International Educator, Continuing Ed Sponsor, and the Creative Founder and CEO of Tori Prince Beauty, LLC, and the Chicago Skin Lab. The Chicago Skin Lab is located at 928 W. 38th Place, Suite 103, Chicago, IL 60609. Victoria has been a Licensed Esthetician for eight years and a Licensed Esthetics Teacher for two years (although she has been an educator for over ten years!). Her favorite service to perform is customized corrective skincare treatments because it allows her to personalize each service to her clients' needs while practicing the art of esthetics and cosmetic science, delivering transformative results. Tori decided to offer advanced corrective treatments because there was a lack of available services in the industry for melanated skin. By providing corrective skincare treatments, Mrs. Prince has been recognized as an Industry Thought Leader & Expert, became a six-figure earner, created personal freedom, and established long-lasting bonds with her clients. Tori's corrective skincare treatments are different from others on the market because of her extensive education, knowledge, and expertise, but more importantly, her clients' results. She became a licensed skincare professional because she struggled with skin issues and self-esteem throughout her childhood. Therefore, she wanted to provide self-confidence, boost self-esteem, and share resources with women of color so that we had better representation in the beauty industry and a better understanding of skincare as a whole.

Kiley Russell

Founder of Love and Light Cafe

Kiley Russell has been an entrepreneur for much of her professional career. As a winner of Oprah’s famous car giveaway, Kiley launched Big Girl Cosmetics where she achieved great success and was carried by Macy’s Department Stores. Since then, Kiley has gone on to have several successful businesses with the Love and Light Cafe being the latest! She is a pillar of the Hyde Park community in Chicago in which she and her family live and has a passion for entrepreneurship and community-based businesses. Kiley has made a commitment to utilizing her business as an economic engine to employ as many community residents as possible. The Love and Light Cafe brings not only coffee, sandwiches, and pastries but a place to gather in the community. Kiley and the Love and Light Cafe embodies the mission of supporting sustainable businesses in order to create the economic growth that provides the most benefit to the communities in which they exist. Kiley works to bring residents of Hyde Park together and create an exponential impact within the local community.

Meet Spring 2022 Cohort:

Genesis Bencivenga Sr.

Principal and Chief Executive Officer at Lorenzo’s Delectables

Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding. The company was born on the South Side of Chicago by the #GirlDad team of Lorenzo and Genesis Bencivenga. The father-daughter duo launched the business to create an income option for upward financial mobility. They started by selling their pudding on the street. Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding is available at local retailers, Jewel Osco and Mariano’s.

Yazmin Curtis

Founder and CEO of Two Fish Crab Shack

As a Southside native and a Bronzeville resident, Yasmin opened the Crab Shack to provide one of the first high quality dining experiences in the area. Her menu offers seafood options such as whole lobster and tails, snow crab legs, shrimp, catfish, and perch. All seafood items can be paired with Two Fish Crab Shack’s selection of unique sauces such as 3 The Chi-Way, Garlic Butter, Lemon Pepper, Cajun, and Jerk. Yasmin has expanded Two Fish Crab Shack’s offerings  to packaged goods, including their popular, Two Fish To-Go bags.

Terri Evans

Owner of Windy City Ribs & Whiskey

As the great-granddaughter of a whiskey entrepreneur, Terri founded Windy City Ribs & Whiskey to create a special dining experience, rich in its Chicago heritage. The restaurant is equally committed to volunteering, donating money, and – specifically in Chicago – developing partnerships with Urban Gardening Programs and High Roads Kitchen to address food insecurities throughout Chicago. Terri has advocated for restaurant workers’ rights and has committed to abolishing the subminimum wage by 2025.

Pamela A. Jones

President and Chief Executive Officer of International House of Sauces & Seasonings

IHSS Inc., DBA Charboy’s originated in 2008 with the concept of providing customers with healthier condiment options to their favorite foods. International House of Sauces and Seasonings is a veteran-owned business and is certified as a Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) and Minority Business Enterprise (MBE).

Joslyn Kelly

Founder of J’s Breakfast Club

Joslyn founded the Gary-based restaurant on a mission to serve her community. J’s Breakfast Club has become a trusted staple in her community, and is among the few sit-down, dine-in establishments in the City of Gary. Joslyn and J’s breakfast club received the 2020 Shift Entrepreneurship Grant courtesy of the NAACP and Shark Tank’s Daymond John, among a host of other accolades for their service to the community.

Regine T. Rousseau

Founder and CEO of Shall We Wine

An acclaimed wine & spirits personality and lifestyle adviser, Regine founded the virtual event company to celebrate and demystify wine, inspiring great drinkers everywhere. By offering corporate events and memberships to a community of wine and spirits lovers, Shall We Wine makes premier, international brands more accessible to Chicago-area consumers.

Takia Smith

Owner, and Founder of Smart Smoothie

Takia founded the Gary, Indiana-based retailer to promote health awareness in her community. Smart Smoothie has grown into a hometown staple and opened its storefront location in the recently remodeled Gary Hudson Campbell Fitness Center. Takia seeks to continue expanding the menu to wellness beverages and items to curb unhealthy lifestyles in the surrounding community.

She currently resides in  Bronzeville and owns and operates her business in the neighborhood, with her daughter Kristian.

Michelle Wainwright

Founder and CEO of Cute as a Cupcake

Michelle founded the cupcakery to offer premier baking services to the area. In addition to offering baking goods through retail, the company also specializes in corporate events.  Michelle and her company are also alumni of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Chicago cohort.

Meet the 2021 Cohort:

Robin Beaman

Robin E. Beaman is a recognized leader in the fields of corporate relations, media relations and advertising. She is the president of Beaman Incorporated, an award-winning communications and advertising agency that has yielded tremendous dividends and successful wins for major organizations and Fortune 500 companies including Nielsen, Coca Cola, British Petroleum, Allstate, Illinois Department of Transportation, Revlon and HBO.

Robin received her Bachelor of Arts from the School of Communications at Howard University and her MS from the Kogod School of Business at American University. She is also the graduate of the Executive Professional Service Firm Program at Harvard University.

Elsie Cardell

As the former Vice President of L’Oreal USA, responsible for managing the commercial business in the US, Canada & Caribbean, Elsie is one of the most trusted and respected leaders in the multicultural beauty industry, having influenced the sales destiny of national and international hair care brands representing in the hundreds of millions in global sales. She has 30 years of experience in strategic sales leadership with some of the world's leading beauty & multicultural companies.

Results Sales & Marketing LLC, is a premier sales and marketing company that supports small to midsize manufacturers in mass, specialty and salon retailers.  Results is known for consistently delivering YOY double digit sales growth coupled with expanding distribution.

Sheila Coates

Be Your Own Brand (BYOB) is the culmination of Coates’ two decades of experience as a marketing executive specializing in artist development, branding and imaging. During her tenure in the music industry, Coates worked with some of the most recognizable names in the business. Her client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in popular music — Mary J. Blige, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Toni Braxton, Lenny Kravitz, Barry White, Jill Scott, Babyface, Monica, Faith Evans, Angie Stone, Q-Tip, Lalah Hathaway, and many others. She has created images for more than 100 videos, red-carpets events and television programs such as: The GRAMMY® Awards, American Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, BET Awards, Good Morning America, The Today Show, Oprah, The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman.

Cecelia Harrison

Cecelia Harrison BS, RHIA, CCA, CRCR is the owner of ReveNewCycle Management and Consulting which was founded in 2016. Cecelia currently teaches Basic CPT Coding at Malcolm X College. In 2019 Ms. Harrison graduated from Chicago State University with her bachelor's degree in Health Information Administration. She has been in the Health Information industry for 20 years. As a former Section 8 recipient Cecelia is thrilled to take her business to the next level so she can hire those within her community. Joining this program will help her in facilitating her training program Blossoming Rose which will add much needed diversity to the Health Information Management field.

Nichole Jackson

Bronzeville Wingz, located in the historic Bronzeville community at 4300 S Michigan Ave., specializes in sauced naked and battered chicken. Owned and operated by Nichole M. Jackson, a Bronzeville native, the restaurant is unlike most specialty chicken restaurants, offering over 30 sauce flavors and preparation choice, making them a fan favorite for most wing lovers.  In addition to chicken, the restaurant offers a small amount of seafood and vegetarian options.

She currently resides in  Bronzeville and owns and operates her business in the neighborhood, with her daughter Kristian.

Larvetta Loftin

L3 Agency is a full-service marketing and communications agency focused on influencer marketing and delivering authentic content for brand engagement. L3 Agency has been responsible for executing award-winning marketing and branding experiential campaigns for Verizon, Bacardi, Toyota, McDonald’s, CVS Pharmacy, ComEd  and The Chicago Community Trust. Larvetta has also built an incredible career as a content creator, brand marketing strategist, authentic speaker, media personality, master networker, community advocate, author, and social entrepreneur. She recently launched her own business web series, on YouTube under LarvettaSpeaks TV  for women of color in Chicago to pitch for access for capital, resources, and expert mentorshipfor Upward Women.

Pam Redwood-Harris

Signature Media Group Speakers (SMG Speakers), is a full service speakers’ bureau that books, brands and manages national speaking talent for special events and has quickly become one of the nation’s leading professional speakers’ bureaus—representing powerful speakers who inspire audiences through their story and impactful message.

Pam has assisted in developing speaking opportunities for the careers of many prominent celebrities, politicians, authors and news journalists, such as multimedia journalist Roland Martin; Daymond John of ABC’s Shark Tank; White House Correspondent & CNN Analyst April Ryan, Ice Cube, former TV Show host Judge Glenda Hatchett and activist and world-renowned poet Nikki Giovanni.

Toi Salter

Toi Salter is a recognized leader in the field of financial and business management. As CEO and Founder of Salter Financial Management LLC, she manages and oversees the day-to-day and long-term financial & business affairs for professional athletes and media personalities.

Ms. Salter, a 20 plus year financial professional, is especially committed to professional athletes after seeing how so many lost their wealth because of improper financial guidance and counsel. Determined not to let this happen on her watch, she landed top picks in the NBA against all odds and incorporated the industry’s most respected wealth institutions and top tier financial professionals as part of her team. This approach has been a winning combination.