On Friday, September 25, 2020, the Urban League of Louisiana hosted its annual Women in Business Challenge: Scale Up! sponsored by Iberia Bank/First Horizon and AARP Louisiana. Each year the WIB Challenge provides female entrepreneurs with the education, tools, and resources needed to scale their businesses towards profitability and sustainability. This year’s event was completely virtual and each finalist pitched their “Scale Up! Plan of Action” via webinar for a chance to win $10,000 in funding support.

“The Urban League of Louisiana is proud to have been able to pivot its annual Women in Business Challenge to a fully virtually event”, said Judy Reese Morse, President & CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana. “We remain committed to supporting the entrepreneurial spirit of our local women business owners and congratulate all of them for their ability to rise above the challenges that COVID-19 has presented across our communities this year.”

During the live virtual event, an esteemed panel of judges heard pitches from the four finalists and chose the winner based on the effectiveness of the pitch presentation, scalability of the business model, and proposed use of award funds. Judges included: Toni Dixon, Iberia Bank/First Horizon; Felicia Brown, AARP; Stephanie Hartman, LED; Jo Ann Lawrence, SBA LA District Office; and Stephanie DeVane, National Urban League.

Congratulations to each of the finalists for presenting compelling scale up plans of action:

• Maryam Henderson-Uloho, SisterHearts Thrift Store

• Emily Swietlik, Swiet Studio

• Dorothy Nairne, Delta Builds

• Shondricka Carter, Carter Capital, LLC


Congratulations to Maryam Henderson-Uloho, Founder and Owner of SisterHearts Thrift Store in Arabi, LA, who emerged as the winner of the 2020 Women in Business Challenge. Maryam will receive $10,000 in funding to support her Scale Up! Plan of Action.

Also, in a surprise activation, Chevron came forward during the finale to grant each of the finalists with an award of $2,500 to support their growth plans or to assist with short-term financial needs related to the impact of COVID-19. “We are inspired by the ingenuity and drive of these amazing women,” said Leah Brown, Public Affairs Manager of Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit. “It is our hope that this financial support will help continue to fuel their businesses and spirit of innovation. We thank them for their efforts at their companies and in the community.”

The Urban League of Louisiana is proud to host this event each year to highlight the women-owned businesses who are doing the work to achieve successful, scalable and profitable businesses. The organization thanks the event’s title sponsors – Iberia Bank/First Horizon and AARP Louisiana, and its community supporters – Chevron North America, Louisiana Economic Development, SBA – Louisiana District Office, WBEC South, and Fidelity Bank P.O.W.E.R.

To learn more about the Women-In-Business Challenge and the other programs offered by the Urban League of Louisiana’s Women’s Business Resource Center, please visit www.urbanleaguela.org/cei.