23 New Businesses Receive Vital Boost Through We Rise Program
PHOENIX (February 5, 2024) – As we commemorate Black History Month, the Arizona Lottery proudly celebrates its commitment to supporting the Black community through a significant partnership with Local First Arizona's We Rise program. This collaboration underscores the Lottery's dedication to fostering business and economic development in the state.
This $10,000 partnership with We Rise aims to provide comprehensive support to Black entrepreneurs in Arizona, offering a no-fee six-month business accelerator program to 23 new participants in the seventh We Rise class who will graduate in July. The program features a curriculum covering five vital components of entrepreneurship including skills and mentorship to ensure business owners have the necessary tools to thrive in Arizona's dynamic economy.
“The Arizona Lottery is thrilled to join forces with Local First Arizona in supporting the growth and success of Arizona’s Black-owned businesses,” said Alec Esteban Thomson, Arizona Lottery CEO. “This partnership is a testament to our commitment to fostering economic development and creating opportunities within the diverse communities we serve.”
As part of this commitment, the Arizona Lottery is excited to highlight a success story from the We Rise Program during Black History Month. During her fitness journey, former We Rise participant Charlotte Bowens recognized the need for fitness gear suitable for larger bodies. Inspired to make a difference, Bowens created VestaPak and founded Conscious Gear.
“As a Black business owner going into a white business space, We Rise helped me build and get ready for what was ahead. It was the perfect program for me," Bowens said. "There are a lot of great entrepreneurs in this community. I took what We Rise gave me and I used it. I leveraged it on everything I’ve done on my journey. I hope I’ve made We Rise proud of the investment they’ve made in me.”
Her journey first started as a participant in the startup accelerator for Black entrepreneurs through Local First Arizona's We Rise program, now further supported by the Arizona Lottery.
"More than 80 Black entrepreneurs have launched and expanded their small businesses since 2020 with help from Local First Arizona's We Rise Business Accelerator," Carmen Attikossie, the program's senior manager, said. "The effectiveness of our training is proven. More than 75% of We Rise graduates increase their sales. And 36% receive business loans, compared to 6% of Black startups nationally. The Arizona Lottery's generous investment provides the resources for more of Arizona's Black entrepreneurs to get to the top of their game."
As a part of the We Rise program, the 23 new class participants will participate in courses including, Business Model Development, Credit and Creditworthiness, Business Plan Writing, Pitching and Storytelling, and more.
In the 2023 fiscal year, the Arizona Lottery raised nearly $15 million from ticket sales to fund business and economic development programs and services, significantly benefiting the community. These substantial transfers, part of a record yearly transfer of $313 million, play a crucial role in supporting programs that would otherwise rely on tax dollars for their funding.
To learn more about Local First Arizona's We Rise Program, please visit localfirstaz.com/we-rise.