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1863 Ventures and Ford Motor Company Fund Celebrate 5 Years of HI-HERImpact Entrepreneurship Competition

1863 Ventures, an independent, Black-led national business development nonprofit and venture capital accelerator and Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, announced the HI-HERImpact Pitch Competition, a shark-tank style social entrepreneurship pitch competition. The event heads back to its roots in Detroit for its 5th Anniversary on Thursday, September 28th, 2023.

The competition has awarded grants totaling over $300,000 to various women-led social enterprises based in Detroit, Miami, Washington D.C. and Kansas City since its inception in 2018. HI-HERImpact invited past winners to compete again. This commemorates the last five years of growth and support for women entrepreneurs who are making an effort to solve issues within their community.

Pitch competition

Among the 24 past winners, five finalists were selected to pitch their business in the HI-HERImpact anniversary competition. They have a chance to win a grand prize of $50,000. This year’s competition features a dynamic lineup of competitors. The competitors represent a diverse array of sectors including consumer products, health, services and technology:

  • Alecia Gabriel, a Detroit-based innovator, founded The Lab Drawer. The company ensures young individuals in disenfranchised communities have access to STEM education
  • Anastasia Mikhalochkina, founder of Lean Orb Co. in Miami. The company provides sustainable solutions to combat single use plastics via compostable food packaging.
  • Arion Long, based in Washington D.C. is the creator of organic period care brand, Femly.
  • Brittany Rhodes, founder of Black Girl MATHgic in Detroit, provides a monthly subscription box that encourages confidence in math.
  • Lisa Ragan, representing Kansas City has established allergy-friendly snack brand, Safely Delicious.

HI-HERImpact pitch competition

“HI-HERImpact celebrates the unwavering spirit of women entrepreneurs. These women drive positive change in their communities,” says 1863 Ventures Founder, Melissa Bradley. “This event is a testament to the power of innovation and collaboration. Incredible ideas and solutions arise when diverse voices are given the platform they deserve. We feel thrilled to come together with Ford Motor Company Fund and our partners to mark five years of supporting and empowering women-led social enterprises.”

This year’s event takes place in collaboration with Newlab @ Michigan Central. Newlab is a support ecosystem for local Detroit startups and entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. The HI-HERImpact event will be open to the public and will provide a platform to network, learn and be inspired. In addition to the competition, 1863 Ventures will host a panel discussion on the importance of social entrepreneurship with business leaders from the Detroit area. The event will also include a vendor showcase with local women-owned businesses for guests to explore and shop.

A distinguished panel of judges will determine the winners. The judges will award prizes of $50,000 for first place, $25,000 for second place and $15,000 for third place. Adding to the excitement, this year’s competition includes an audience choice winner determined by both in-person attendees and those tuning in via the 1863 Ventures livestream on YouTube. This winner will receive a $5,000 grant towards their business needs.

To register for the HI-HERImpact Pitch Competition event please visit For more information on 1863 Ventures, please visit

About 1863 Ventures

1863 Ventures is a leader in providing culturally competent accelerator programs, non-dilutive financing, and mentorship to Black, Latino, and other historically underestimated entrepreneurs. By addressing the unique needs of this demographic, 1863 Ventures assists entrepreneurs in transforming high-potential business ideas into high-growth, profitable companies that generate jobs and wealth for their communities. Learn more at

About Ford Motor Company Fund

As the global philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, Ford Fund focuses on providing access to essential services, education for the future of work and entrepreneurship opportunities for under-resourced and underrepresented communities. Ford Fund’s partnerships and programming are designed to be responsive to unique community needs. Partnerships ensure people have equitable opportunities to move forward. Harnessing Ford’s scale, resources and mobility expertise, Ford Fund drives meaningful impact through grantmaking, Ford Resource and Engagement Centers and employee volunteerism. For more information, visit

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