Barclays Bank and West End Neighborhood House teamed up for the second year in a row for a small business fair and pitch competition to highlight the Launcher program.
The event was held Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at Barclays' Wilmington Riverfront location as part of National Small Business Week.
West End Neighborhood House Executive Director Paul Calistro says the program has 'exploded throughout Delaware.'
"It's now in Dover, Wilmington, Claymont. We are actually offering eight classes a year with anywhere from seventeen to twenty folks in there.
"Just to give you an idea in the first two years we've created 89 new businesses that are up and running. There are two hundred full time jobs that can be documented. And we're on projection to double that just this year."
Barclays' Jennifer Cho says the bank helped launch Launcher with West End and her colleagues get involved with multi-faceted support.
"So last week actually before the pitch competition we had about twenty colleagues come in and help each of them with their pitches so they can practice and refine them for today. Then we had colleagues and some of our executives actually come and serve as the judges in the pitch competition.
"So we really get involved in all facets, not only providing funding and write the financial support but really getting our colleagues and using their skills to give back to our communities and support these entrepreneurs as well."
Barclays employees were able to attend the fair and purchase food and other items or pick up information on services ranging from cleaning to moving.
The aspiring entrepreneurs were quick to acknowledge the support of Barclays and the Launcher program in helping them start and grow their businesses.
Darla Foxx of Darla's Delites Catering says Launcher really helped her to focus in on what she wanted to do.
"I was kind of all over the place with how I wanted to branch out with this business. Launcher helped me to tailor my thoughts. I've been in business for less than a year and my business has grown exponentially."
Lydia Turner of The Healing Blend had similar early issues.
"When I first started I was all over the place. I didn't have a business plan. It was kind of a hobby and I needed structure.
"I will say Launcher really helped me get everything on paper, get organized and now I feel a lot more confident in my business."
Angelica Morales came from Mexico 25 years ago with two sets of clothing and after cleaning homes for ten years herself, she now has a rising business with seven employees at Angelica's Cleaning Services.
"The plan is this year we will buy a small building to have our home for the business. I'm growing that fast. I'm happy."
Four businesses were named pitch competition winners, with each entrepreneur receiving $1,000. The winners were:
La Bella Blue (Tanisha Bullock)
Hybrid Bakery (Shavonne Fair)
Sweety's Sweet Cakes (Larveania Bagwell)
Get Cozy Mobile Bar (J'nelle Clement)