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Emerging Connections in Southwest Michigan


In a crowded room filled with vibrant energy, competitors and onlookers alike wait for the results of the first ever Pitch Night hosted by Emerge.

An impressive lineup of entrepreneurs from the Benton Harbor, Michigan area had carefully and creatively pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges, vying for funding up to $5,000. The panel deliberates, finally settling on three outstanding businesses with solid plans to back up their passion. 

In third place, for $1k in funding: Sticky Spoons Jam, LLC. 

(Founder Aiyenede Akhigbe is a Navy Veteran, and started Sticky Spoons in 2016 after not being able to find jams with organic ingredients without high fructose corn syrup for her son who was just old enough to start enjoying his first PB&J sandwiches.) 

In second place, for $2.5k in funding: Benton Harbor Beauty Academy

(Founder Sharee Brooks is a Benton Harbor native and has opened a beauty academy in downtown Benton Harbor. Brooks wants to provide Benton Harbor natives the same opportunities she's had, without traveling to Kalamazoo and neighboring communities to explore a future in cosmetology.) 

And in first place, with the coveted $5k in funding: NS Cosmetics 

(Founding team consists of two sisters, Neriah and Naoimi Stephens, who wanted to provide natural and organic beauty products to the world.) 

As the excitement and congratulatory greetings fill the space, it offers a perfect look at what Emerge is all about: elevating small businesses in the Greater Southwest Michigan area who are community and social enterprise minded. 

Emerge is a local community institution in the process of being onboarded as part of the PW Network in the United States. They offer education, mentorship, and opportunities for access to capital through events such as Pitch Night. The main goal of Emerge is to serve as a starting hub for entrepreneurs and small business owners by keeping a detailed list of community resources and actively working to make connections for a thriving entrepreneurial community in Southwest Michigan. 

We at Partners Worldwide are thrilled to be partnering with the positive work Emerge is doing and look forward to walking alongside them as they continue to grow and better serve their community!