From her projects in the realm of entertainment to her real estate endeavors, Queen Latifah’s business portfolio spans different industries, and she’s on a mission to empower individuals charting paths in entrepreneurship. The hip-hop legend—whose real name is Dana Owens—has joined forces with the tech company Lenovo for an initiative designed to support small businesses.
The project—dubbed Evolve Small—was cultivated to eradicate the myriad of obstacles that founders face when launching their ventures. Research shows that factors like the lack of accessibility to capital and resources to build robust business and marketing plans have led half of small businesses to shutter before reaching their five-year mark. Through Evolve Small, small business owners will be aligned with funding opportunities, receive business mentorship and access a community of other entrepreneurs.
They will also be able to participate in business consulting sessions with Owens and Lenovo’s collective of Evolve Small ambassadors. As part of the initiative, small business owners with less than one hundred employees will have the chance to win $30,000 in a cash grant and $10,000 worth of tech improvements provided by Lenovo.
Owens says through her own experiences, she’s aware of the adversities entrepreneurs face when trying to bring their vision to fruition—especially women and founders of color. “I understand the hardships small businesses face and how much more challenging those hardships can be for businesses owned by women and minorities,” she shared in a statement, according to the news outlet. “Knowing how the support I received back when I got started helped me get to where I am today, I’m excited to pay it forward and help others along the way through this partnership with Lenovo’s Evolve Small initiative.”
Since the inception of Evolve Small, Lenovo has awarded upwards of $1,000,000 in grants and tech donations to minority-owned small businesses throughout the U.S. and Canada. News about Owens’ partnership with Lenovo comes months after she broke ground on a community-driven, affordable housing project in her hometown of Newark.
Gerald Youngblood, who serves as a chief marketing officer at Lenovo North America, says teaming up with Owens for the initiative is an honor. “Finding a partner who exemplified smart business acumen and an affinity for philanthropy was paramount to making sure this initiative would truly make an impact,” Youngblood said.
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