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HERImpact Kansas City Pitch Competition Champions – $50,000 Awarded to Three Women-Led Businesses

Ford Motor Company Fund and 1863 Ventures expand investment in women's ambitions to start and scale local businesses.

Ford Motor Company Fund and 1863 Ventures awarded a collective $50,000 in business grants to the three winning entrepreneurs of the HERImpact Kansas City Pitch Competition. These women-owned social enterprises will leverage the cash prizes and business development support to scale their businesses.

“Companies founded not only by women, but women of color have a fail rate less than the national average. And yet, they account for a small fraction of venture capital raises. Programs such as HERImpact signal to the broader investment community that it is imperative to fund women entrepreneurs,” said Melissa Bradley, Managing Partner and Founder of 1863 Ventures. “Ford Motor Company Fund is vigilant of the capital and resources women-owned enterprises need. Along with my team at 1863 Ventures, I am privileged to steward HERImpact. We are proud to extend funding to this year’s pitch competition winners.”

The third annual HERImpact Kansas City pitch competition

The public “Shark Tank”-style event took place at the Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The women founders presented their businesses to a panel of judges, including:

  • Yisel Cabrera, Ford Fund’s Senior Manager of Economic Mobility.
  • Melissa Bradley, Managing Partner and Founder of 1863 Ventures.
  • Davin Gordon, Program Officer at the Hall Family Foundation.

Winners were decided based on five criteria they demonstrated:

  1. Solve a community problem.
  2. Have a sustainable business model.
  3. Feature a product or service differentiated with a clear value proposition.
  4. Have a capable founding team with experience to lead.
  5. Evidence market traction.

The winning social entrepreneurs

  • 1st Place: $27,500 prize – Nikkie Affholter, Founder of Tirza Design
    Tirza Design is fashion with purpose, committed to empowering women who have survived human trafficking and other forms of abuse achieve education, economic independence, and healing. Tirza Design offers exclusively local survivor-made jewelry, homegoods, other fair-trade goods. Every purchase supports survivors and invests in the fight to end human trafficking and exploitation.
  • 2nd Place: $12,500 prize – Kristan Chamberlain, Founder of KC Can Compost
    KC Can Compost is a forward-thinking enterprise with a triple bottom line. KC Can Compost’s vision is to generate revenue by advancing a systematic infrastructure for organics collection that can be applied across commercial and residential sectors.
  • 3rd Place: $5,000 prize – Verónica Alvidrez, Founder of ParaMI
    ParaMI is a women-owned apparel and home goods brand that brings representation to Latinas in the Midwest.

Audience participation was encouraged as an additional $5,000 prize was awarded by over 150 fan votes in the “Audience Choice” category. ParaMI Founder Verónica Alvidrez also received this commendation.

How does HERImpact Kansas City Pitch Competition help women entrepreneurs?

“Through [HERImpact], we can continue to empower survivors and fight trafficking locally and around the world through dignified employment and direct job skill training,” said Nikkie Affholter, Founder of Tirza Design. “It was a privilege to stand alongside courageous women leading in impact in Kansas City.”

In the U.S., women started 49 percent of all businesses in 2021. However, 2022 year-end data shows that startups with all-women teams received just 1.9 percent (around $4.5 billion) out of the $240 billion in venture capital funding, less than the 2.4 percent all-women teams raised in 2021.

HERImpact is a product from the combined efforts of Ford Motor Company Fund and 1863 Ventures. And since its creation, the company has worked to uplift women social entrepreneurs and scale their businesses. Since 2017, Ford Motor Company Fund has invested more than $400,000 in women-led, conscientious enterprises and provided business development resources to more than 500 entrepreneurs in Detroit, Washington, D.C., Miami and Kansas City.

About Ford Motor Company Fund

The Ford Motor Company Fund workas 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, ensuring equitable opportunities. Harnessing Ford’s scale, resources and mobility expertise, Ford Fund drives meaningful impact through grantmaking, Ford Community Centers and employee volunteerism. For more information, visit fordfund.org or join us at @FordFund on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

About 1863 Ventures

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. For more information, visit 1863ventures.net or follow @1863ventures on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

To ace pitching, you may also want to dive into your storytelling skills… How about reading Your Stories Don’t Define You, How You Tell Them Will by Sarah Elkins?

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