Washington DC-based Female Entrepreneurs Awarded $50,000

Ten finalists compete for cash prizes and in-kind support during HI – HERImpact Pitch Competition

WASHINGTON, D.C.. — Ford Motor Company Fund and 1863 Ventures announced the winners of the Sept. 11 HI - HERImpact DC Pitch Competition, held last night as part of DC Startup Week 2019. A total of $50,000 in cash prizes and in-kind support was awarded to three female social entrepreneurs to help them build and scale their enterprises. 

Stefanie Cumming presenting HERImpact DC pitch before winning
Stephanie Cummings explains Please Assist Me business in front of HI - HERImpact DC Pitch audience and judges. Cummings won $25,000 to grow the personal assistant service.

The new HI – HERImpact DC winners are:
• First Place: Stephanie Cummings, Please Assist Me – Awarded $25,000 (Growth Stage)
• Second Place: Lina Zdruli, Dafero – Awarded $20,000 (Growth Stage)
• Audience Choice: LaQuida Chancey, Smalltimore Homes – Awarded $5,000 (Early Stage)

"Ford Fund is elated to award first place to Stephanie Cummings from Please Assist Me, whose company aims to make home assistant services more accessible and affordable for working professionals trying to balance household tasks with busy lives," said Yisel Cabrera, Community Relations Manager for Ford Motor Company Fund. "We believe that when you invest in a woman, you are not only improving her life, but the lives of her family and the community around them."

Second place winner, Lina Zdruli from Dafero, is crafting delicious, sugar-free sweets that those with dietary restrictions can enjoy while employing vulnerable women in communities, including refugee women and former trafficking victims.The audience choice winner, LaQuida Chancey from Smalltimore Homes, is trying to alleviate homelessness by creating more affordable housing through micro shelters and tiny homes.

HERImpact DC Pitch audience
HI – HERImpact DC audience reacts to one of 10 pitches during Wednesday's competition.

"It is an honor to be able to shine a spotlight on these amazing women entrepreneurs who prove that social good and capital investment are not fundamentally at odds," said Melissa Bradley, managing partner of 1863 Ventures, "We're proud to help contribute to a nurturing ecosystem here in DC for women entrepreneurs committed to making a difference."

For the pitch competition, ten finalists were selected out of more than 170 applicants to compete at DC Startup Week 2019. They were chosen based on the following criteria: the social enterprise must exist to solve a real community problem, have a business model that will ultimately be sustainable, and focus on a product or service people will pay for. Judges included Alyssa Gill of NextGen Venture Partners, Aurelia Flores of Athena Digital Media Group, and Pamela Alexander of Ford Motor Company Fund.