Local First Arizona is expanding on its work of building an inclusive, diverse local economy through a new initiative, the We Rise Business Accelerator program. Tailored to Arizona’s Black-owned businesses, at all stages of development and all sectors, We Rise will equip businesses with the entrepreneurial skills and resources to thrive and become part of a larger network of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Applications for the We Rise Business Accelerator program can be found at  www.localfirstaz.com/we-rise and will close on Nov. 20, 2020. The inaugural 2021 cohort will be announced on Dec. 7, 2020.

“A culturally responsive and collaborative entrepreneurial environment has proven to help build resiliency among communities who have far too often been left behind. We are ready to hit the ground running and be a resource the Black business community can count on to scale up and get started,” says Local First Arizona Small Business Development Manager, Carmen Attikossie, who will lead and develop We Rise.

Attikossie helped launch similar programs such as the Student Ventures Programme in Mauritius and Rwanda at the African Leadership University.

We Rise was modeled after Local First’s successful Fuerza Local Business Accelerator, a 6-month program tailored to Spanish-preferred entrepreneurs. Since 2014, Fuerza Local has had over 500 businesses complete the program that have then gone on to create over 600 jobs. Their companies have contributed millions in additional revenue to the Arizona economy.

“Here at Local First, we have demonstrated that local ownership is our most powerful tool to combat the wealth gap, build a diverse economy, and keep dollars recirculating locally,” says Local First Founder Kimber Lanning. “The lack of access to capital for small business owners of color and decades of economic injustice has only been deepened by the pandemic. So we’re taking action: investing in Black-owned businesses to cultivate a more vibrant Arizona,” she added.

The We Rise Business Accelerator program was made possible through a grant from the Oakland-based Common Future, a national organization working to support initiatives that shift capital, uplift local leaders, and advance the development of equitable economies.