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National Program To Help Minority Entrepreneurs Will Debut At Essence Fest

This year’s Essence Festival will be enhancing the empowerment component of the event that’s become known as the “party with a purpose.” The 20th annual Essence Festival includes the kickoff of a national drive to help minority entrepreneurs succeed.

It’s called PowerMoves.NOLA. Founder Leslie Jacobs says the idea surfaced about a year ago to make the city of New Orleans the national leader in helping minority entrepreneurs.

“We’ve become national leaders in flood protection and education reform, and now we’re going to do the same thing for high-growth minority entrepreneurship," she said. "Our goal is to make PowerMoves.NOLA for black entrepreneurs what South by Southwest is for tech startups.”  

Heading up the drive is investment entrepreneur Earl Robinson.

He said he hopes PowerMoves.NOLA can provide advice he wishes he’d had when he was starting out. Mentors have signed up to help from across the country, and have a simple approach.

“Why don’t we show you how we did it, talk you through the mistakes we made," he said. "Invest in what you’re doing and introduce you to the people we know to, again, speed your trip — not to the finish line but, quite frankly, the starting line.”   

During Essence, 40 entrepreneurs will be pitching their ideas. Winners will receive several thousand dollars.

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.

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