HBCU Grads Celebrate One Year of Supporting Black and Women Entrepreneurs in the Food Retail Industryby Contributing Writer(s) May 13, 2022
Allen and Subriana Pierce, the founders of the Navigator Lighthouse Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Orange County, California that supports minority and women entrepreneurs in the food retail industry, are celebrating the one year anniversary of their foundation. Both are HBCU graduates. Allen graduated from North Carolina Central, and Subriana graduated from Spelman.
In the past year, their foundation has welcomed over two dozen minority and women-owned brands into their first cohort of members. Over 18 organizations were there to support and engage with the foundation’s educational opportunities by co-hosting a series of webinars alongside the Subriana and Allen. As 2022 begins, NielsenIQ, D4DT, Meeschell, One Venture Group, and ECRM are continuing their involvement as partners of the Navigator Lighthouse Foundation. The entrepreneurs also heard from retailers such as Shoprite, Costco, and Albertsons.
Navigator Lighthouse Foundation
To celebrate its first anniversary, the Navigator Lighthouse Foundation hosted a Pitch Contest to give its members a platform in front of a panel of leading retailers and investors in the grocery retail industry. Ten brands in the first cohort of the foundation pitched their brands to leaders from Gelson’s Supermarkets, Founders First Capital, Jewel-Osco, KeHE Distributors, IFundWomen, and Strong Connexion.
Rebecca Sytn, the Founder and Managing Partner of Blind Tiger; Max Doggett, the President of Safari Meats; and Pennie Crocket, the Founder and CEO of Pennies Teas, took home the first, second, and third-place prizes in the Pitch Contest, with Blind Tiger also winning the favor of the audience with the Audience Choice Award. Nearly $10,000 was awarded to the three winners in addition to opportunities with several key retailers and investors on the judge’s panel.
Maxx Doggett, the President of Safari Meats, reflected on his time as a member, “The information and resources I’ve accumulated through the foundation’s training sessions are priceless. For the entrepreneur that wants to see their business go to the next level, the Navigator Lighthouse Foundation will help you build a strong base for your company.”
Members of the Navigator Lighthouse Foundation gain access to exclusive opportunities with leading retailers, distributors, and support organizations. Tracey Richardson, the CEO and Co- Founder of Lillies of Charleston, says, “We were provided access to close to 100 retail buyers which couldn’t be achieved through our own efforts.”
Founding Board member, Allen Pierce says:
“We are so proud of many of these brands. They are going on to distribution at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Giant, Gelson’s, and other retailers. For our training curriculum to have played a part in any of this success is what motivates us to do
The hard work continues in 2022 as the Navigator Lighthouse Foundation opens applications for their next cohort of members. If you have ever felt unheard or unseen by the food industry, the Navigator Lighthouse can help illuminate a tailored pathway for your unique brand. Apply now at navigatorlighthousefoundation.org/apply-now
If you would like to join the Navigator Lighthouse Foundation in its journey to create educational opportunities and increased visibility for minority-owned brands, visit navigatorlighthousefoundation.org/become-a-sponsor to learn about sponsorship and donation opportunities.
The Navigator Lighthouse Foundation aims to increase the representation of minority and women entrepreneurs in the food retail industry. They provide the pathway to product sales that minority and women-owned businesses would otherwise struggle to achieve relative to their larger competitors. They focus on giving support in three areas:
• Access | Access to retailers and investors
• Education | Deep Dive courses to further educate entrepreneurs in CPG
• Cultivate Innovation | New Brand Seed Funding and Expansion Funding
With these tailored solutions, we will see an increase in the presence and exposure of under-represented entrepreneurs, the number of qualified CPG entrepreneurs, and the successful integration of minority-owned brands into the marketplace.