Earlier this month six fiercely passionate social impact entrepreneurs gathered for the HERImpact Kansas City Pitch Competition to share their visions for their businesses and the communities they reach. The public "Shark Tank"-style event took place at the Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. One by one these female entrepreneurs took the stage, presented to a panel of judges and prepared to make their own mark on history. It was a fitting start to Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day.
Being on that stage with other women who are changing our culture for good—it was inspiring. The artistry and good work, and the real difference they are each making in people’s lives through their businesses—it made me feel hopeful again,” says Kristan Chamberlain, founder of KC Can Compost, one of the HERImpact pitch competition winners.
HERImpact was created by the Ford Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Ford Motor Company, in partnership with 1863 Ventures, and was designed for female entrepreneurs to help scale their businesses through coaching and funding.
“The whole atmosphere was encouraging. From the HERImpact staff to each participating founder, there was a sense of camaraderie and support," said Veronica Alvidrez, founder of paraMi. “HERImpact provides a level of coaching unlike any other pitch competition I’ve participated in and it’s important because women work in silence. We don’t typically tell people what we’re up to—HERImpact highlighted the importance of mentors and getting valuable feedback.”
At the end of the day, three enterprises were selected to receive a portion of the $50,000 in business grants from Ford Fund and 1863 Ventures. Nikkie Affholter, founder of Tirza Design and this year’s first prize winner, offers this advice to the next wave of women entrepreneurs, “Be bold. Don’t be afraid to step out there—even if you’re worried you might fail. HERImpact is a safe place to be bold!”
Here’s a round-up of the top three enterprises selected:
1st Place: $27,500 prize – Nikkie Affholter, Founder of Tirza Design
Tirza Design is fashion with purpose, committed to empowering women who have survived human trafficking and other forms of abuse to achieve education, economic independence, and healing. Tirza Design offers exclusively local survivor-made jewelry, homegoods, and other fair-trade goods. Every purchase supports survivors and invests in the fight to end human trafficking and exploitation.
2nd Place: $12,500 prize – Kristan Chamberlain, Founder of KC Can Compost
KC Can Compost is a forward-thinking enterprise with a triple bottom line. Kristan’s vision is to generate revenue by advancing a systematic infrastructure for organics collection that can be applied across commercial and residential sectors.
3rd Place: $5,000 prize - Verónica Alvidrez, Founder of paraMi
ParaMi is a women-owned apparel and home goods brand that brings representation to Latinas in the midwest.
Maxwell Young, Director of Communications at 1863 Ventures, encourages aspiring women entrepreneurs to keep in mind that “There is funding out there for women. The future of America is Black and Brown and it’s woman-owned. You are the future of your community and our nation writ large—no idea is too small.”
To learn more about opportunities to support 1863 Ventures, they invite you to text them at +1-202-918-5274. They communicate through an SMS community to share all of their updates, investment insights, and news of the day. You can also visit their website or follow them on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.