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Pitch competition focuses on Black and brown entrepreneurs

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Black and brown entrepreneurs in Central Indiana will have an opportunity to earn up to $25,000 in startup capital to help their business grow.

PitchFeast and IMPACT Central Indiana partnered to create the pitch competition — called IMPACT Central Indiana PitchFeast — which will be March 29. The deadline to apply is March 5. Apply here.

A total of 10 entrepreneurs will get to pitch their business at the competition. The top prize is $25,000. Second place will get $15,000 and third place will get $10,000. The audience will also get to vote for an entrepreneur to receive $5,000.

The investments will be awarded in the form of low-interest loans. Learn more about the competition here.

“Black and brown businesses are certainly underrepresented when it comes to any type of venture capital or investment,” said Tom Kilian, president of IMPACT Central Indiana, an LLC under the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

Kendrea Williams, founder of PitchFest, said access to capital is probably the biggest barrier for Black and brown business owners — alongside access to networks and business education.

Williams studied history at IUPUI and was interested in early Black entrepreneurs such as Booker T. Washington and Madam C.J. Walker. They would host conferences for entrepreneurs from around the country to see what their needs were, and Williams said the needs from back then are the same as now.

“I’ve always described entrepreneurship as beginning right after emancipation,” she said.

Less than 1% of venture capital goes to Black founders, according to Forbes, which leads to searching for other avenues of funding. A survey from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation found about 17% of Black entrepreneurs rely on personal credit cards to fund new or existing businesses — more than any other race.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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