-- Class size increased nearly 20 percent over 2018: Nineteen social entrepreneurs will participate in the 2019 program, up from 16 in 2018.
-- Social entrepreneurs benefit from education and mentorship: The program combines education and mentorship to help aspiring business owners to scale up their efforts and enhance their social impact.
-- Funding to scale impact: Participants will vie for top three spots at November pitch competition to receive a total of $175,000 in equity free funding.
BBVA has selected 19 social entrepreneurs from across the U.S. to participate in its BBVA Momentum accelerator program, designed to help participants enhance their operations to impact the lives of more people.
This is the program's third year operating in the United States, with a class of 16 entrepreneurs from across BBVA's footprint participating in last year's class. This year, after the program's 2018 success, the bank conducted 10 informational events to promote the program and the opportunity to social entrepreneurs across its seven-state footprint.
"Our new wave of entrepreneurs are using their businesses to tackle some of the most challenging issues in our society," said Reymundo Ocañas, Director of Communications & Corporate Responsibility for BBVA in the U.S. "We are excited to see the ever-increasing candidate pool each year, because that means we are also seeing more and more unique solutions to these problems. We are excited for BBVA Momentum's blend of education and mentorship to create opportunities -- both locally and globally -- for these visionary and socially conscious entrepreneurs as they scale up their businesses and increase their impact."
This year's participants were selected from applications submitted online, ending in early May. From there, applicants were invited to pitch their businesses in front of bank leadership, community partners, and professors during the speed interview stage. Speed interviews were held in locations across BBVA's footprint in the U.S.
BBVA Momentum includes five months of online and in-person education from June to November 2019. The online component is provided through Headspring Executive Development by Financial Times, while the University of Texas at Austin's McCombs School of Business manages the face-to-face training. Each social entrepreneur will be paired with a mentor from BBVA, selected based on their professional background and skill set, to provide one-on-one strategic support for the entirety of the program.
At the end of the program, BBVA awards prizes to participant enterprises considered most sustainable and with the highest social impact. In addition, winners may be eligible to receive further investment opportunities, including capital to implement the growth plans developed during the program.
The top prizewinner for BBVA Momentum in 2018 was social entrepreneur Michelle Corson of Dallas, Texas who took home the $75,000 first prize for On the Road Lending, a company which finances fuel-efficient and reliable cars, under warranty, for lower-skilled workers with weak credit.
With the collaboration of more than 300 BBVA mentors and specialists, BBVA Momentum has supported 515 social companies across the globe so far and aims to reach a new participation record in 2019. At a global level, there are almost 1,000 entrepreneurs participating in BBVA Momentum 2019, a 13 percent increase over 2018.
The 2019 entrepreneurs
Austin's Underdawgs, Jan Underwood (Fort Worth, Texas): Increases awareness and advocates for the potential of individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD) in search of meaningful self-employment through a food truck venture. They provide an opportunity for adults with IDD to create their own Underdawgs franchise as their track to owning their own business and earning a living wage as an independent member of their community.
Bevea, Kabir Gambhir (San Diego, Calif.): Partners with organic coffee farmers in Costa Rica to import the normally discarded peel and fruit of the coffee cherry to cold brew cascara.
Break Bread, Break Borders, Jin-Ya Huang (Dallas): Combines catering with immersive storytelling and culture exchange to create economic opportunities for refugee women by leveraging their existing skills and talents, as well as technical training and mentorship from professional chefs.
Build UP, Dr. Mark. W. C. Martin (Birmingham, Ala.): Provides low-income youth with career-ready skills through paid apprenticeships with industry-aligned coursework, leading them to become educated, credentialed, and empowered civic leaders, professionals, homeowners and landlords.
Eight Million Stories, Marvin Pierre (Houston): Supports previously incarcerated youth through education programs as they re-enter their community, curbing unnecessary referrals from schools to the justice system and empowering vulnerable youth to succeed in school and beyond through a holistic educational experience grounded in academics, vocational skills training and social-emotional development.
Gifts for Good, Laura Hertz (Los Angeles): Provides a source for corporate gifts with a social impact, offering life-changing products made by over 40 nonprofits and social enterprises to businesses purchasing gifts in bulk.
Legendary Rootz, Raven Gibson (Laveen, Ariz.): Legendary Rootz is a clothing brand created for the black culture and by the culture, providing the presence of representation, a voice, and safe space for the black community to be exemplified.
Love Never Fails, Vanessa Russell (Dublin, Calif.): Offers housing and workforce development opportunities including technology training to human trafficking survivors and other vulnerable community members such as foster youth, homeless youth, and teenage parents.
Magic City Woodworks, Lawrence Sheffield (Birmingham, Ala.): Hires young men facing employment barriers to experience meaningful work in a healthy manufacturing company and take advantage of its dynamic life skill building curriculum.
Moolah U, Gayle Reaume (Austin, Texas): Provides a family financial learning system through a board game and an app for kids (ages 6 to 17) and parents to learn together through real experience with money.
Naturansa, Esra Serbes (San Francisco, Calif.): Produces next-generation protein from a specific edible insect by converting pre-consumer food waste into fertilizer using environmentally friendly production methods.
The PIC Place, Melanie Hall (Montrose, Colo.): Provides medical, dental, vision, behavioral health, and physical therapy through a team-based delivery model, with emphasis on patient empowerment through education and decision making skills.
POETIC, Jennifer Tinker (Dallas): Combines a school, paid internships and 24/7 access to trauma therapy all under one roof to break the cycle of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation for juvenile justice-involved girls (ages 12-18).
So All May Eat (SAME Café), Brad Reubendale (Denver): Operates a donation-based, fair exchange restaurant that serves healthy food to everyone, regardless of ability to pay, in exchange for volunteer time, food donations, or monetary donations.
Small Box Company, Eric Tasker (Birmingham, Ala.): Provides local businesses with an innovative way to test their products or services in a market before committing to a retail location by converting shipping containers into semi-permanent retail spaces and leasing them to small business owners for short terms.
Small Places LLC; Daniel Garcia-Prats (Houston): Provides turn-key farm development services, farm management and consulting services, as well as education, community outreach, and job training all focused on placemaking and community health, helping community- and health-related nonprofits, municipalities that have food security/access issues and progressive commercial developers that want to establish a culture of health in their neighborhoods.
Social Spin, Christy Moore (Phoenix, Ariz.): Provides affordable self-service coin laundromats, commercial and individual wash-and-fold service, as well as free laundry service funded by the sale of donated clothing items.
The Third Half PBC, Christa Robinson (Oakland, Calif.): Designs transformational experiences that use soccer - the world's common language - to build a new generation of global citizens and support the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
Yoga 4 Change, Kathryn Thomas (Jacksonville, Fla.): Creates healthier and safer communities by combining yoga movements with thematic teachings and is researched and proven to improve health, sleep quality, coping skills, forgiveness, self-compassion, emotional regulation, anger management and post-traumatic growth.
For more BBVA news visit, www.bbva.com
BBVA is a customer-centric global financial services group founded in 1857. The Group has a strong leadership position in the Spanish market and is the largest financial institution in Mexico. It has leading franchises in South America and the Sunbelt Region of the United States. It is also the leading shareholder in Turkey's BBVA Garanti. BBVA's purpose is to bring the age of opportunities to everyone, based on our customers' real needs: provide the best solutions, helping them make the best financial decisions, through an easy and convenient experience. The institution rests in solid values: Customer comes first, we think big and we are one team. BBVA's responsible banking model aspires to achieve a more inclusive and sustainable society.
In the U.S., BBVA is a Sunbelt-based financial institution that operates 641 branches, including 329 in Texas, 89 in Alabama, 63 in Arizona, 61 in California, 45 in Florida, 37 in Colorado and 17 in New Mexico. The bank ranks among the top 25 largest U.S. commercial banks based on deposit market share and ranks among the largest banks in Alabama (2nd), Texas (4th) and Arizona (6th). In the U.S., BBVA has been recognized as one of the leading small business lenders by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and ranked 8th nationally in terms of dollar volume of SBA loans originated in fiscal year 2018.
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