Catholic Charities Launches The Community CONNECT, Holds Start-Up Pitch Competition
Catholic Charities (www.ccomaha.org) recently partnered with the Omaha Economic Development Corporation, Mutual of Omaha, and Mutual of Omaha Bank to launch The Community CONNECT, Investing in Entrepreneurship, a start-up pitch competition that awarded a total of $15,000 to the top winning businesses. On September 22, Graduates of the Catholic Charities Microbusiness and Asset Development Program presented their business models in front of a live audience and received expert feedback from a panel of esteemed judges comprised of area entrepreneurs and community business leaders.
Congratulations to first-place winner Orlanda Whitfield, owner of Still Poppin, who was awarded $10,000. Second place winner Gary Ballard, owner of Haberdash O.N.E., received $3,000. Two entrepreneurs tied for third, Owners Diamond Simms of Emery’s Café and Sophia Jordan of Black Bottom Biscotti. Each will split a $2,000 cash award.
The following community leaders served as judges for the competition: Becky App, co-founder of eCreamery and Shark Tank participant (2012); Steve Esposito, managing director of retail banking at Mutual of Omaha Bank; Faye Hobley, entrepreneur; Reginald McGaugh, founder/CEO of Cornhusker Capital, LLC; Diva R. Mejias, owner and president of DM Financial Services, Inc.; and Karnetta Rushing, VP Retail Branch Banking – First National Bank of Omaha.
Through the Microbusiness and Asset Development Program, Catholic Charities helps hundreds of budding entrepreneurs build, launch, and grow their dream businesses. This program offers formal training, technical assistance, micro loans, financial education, and counseling—key ingredients that help low-income individuals achieve self-sufficiency and financial freedom. For more information, visit www.ccomaha.org.