Cory Varona-Corniel and Nicole Varona Cancelmo of DN Organics, Bryheem and Lavar Alston of Brotherly Love Cuts, of Fabz Food and Fit, and Casha Love of Snazzy’s Beauty Supply received funding from the Financial Lending & Innovation Collaborative (FLIC) spearheaded by Alvernia University’s O’Pake Insitute.
Checks were presented to the four minority-owned, three of which are also women-owned, businesses and one student-run business following pitch presentations at the John R. Post Center at Reading CollegeTowne on Friday, Nov. 4.
“As we continue to focus on experiential learning for our students and economic development within communities we serve, the FLIC program allows us to fulfill that vision through the microgrant program and the Student Innovation Fund,” said Alvernia University President, John R. Loyack. “We could not provide this assistance and fuel innovation, entrepreneurship, experiential learning and regional economic growth without the help of our industry partners and private supporters.”
DN Organics received $5,000 for branding and marketing services and website development to expand their reach. Brotherly Love Cuts received $5,000 for new equipment for their third location in the Berkshire Mall. Fabz Food and Fit received $2,500 to purchase social media marketing equipment. Snazzy Beauty Supply received $2,500 for a new point-of-sale system.
“The FLIC grant will help us grow our business exponentially in the upcoming months. We are thankful for the support from The O’Pake Institute and the Alvernia community and their investment in local businesses from Berks County,” said Co-Founder of DN Organics, Nicol Varona Cancelmo. “We were thrilled to pitch our business and be awarded one of the grants. We cannot wait to see how the ecosystem of entrepreneurs grows in our community and fosters many more successful businesses.”
Max Horn ‘21, MBA ’23 and O’Pake graduate assistant, received funding for the You Matter Movement, LLC from The O’Pake Institute’s Student Innovation Fund which aids student entrepreneurs during the first stages of business.
Funds are provided by participating financial institutions, foundations and private donors, including Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Berks. Inc., Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, Kutztown SBDC, Visions Federal Credit Union, Riverfront Federal Credit Union, Barrio Alegria and Alvernia University’s (AU) O’Pake Institute, where AU funding is courtesy of The PA 30-Day Fund, Schlouch Inc., and Allan Myers, Inc. Funded businesses are also required to match funding dollars or match goods and services to the community.
“We are thrilled to present this funding to these invigorated, qualified, local entrepreneurs with the support of our generous partners,” said Director of FLIC, Lizette Epps. “These businesses will continue to be supported through the Spark Business Incubator until they graduate from the program into the next phase of the business life cycle. We look forward to continuing to support more businesses through FLIC in the future.”
Students in the O’Pake Fellows Program and the O’Pake Finance Committee prepped the clients for their pitches and assisted with services of FLIC funding recipients and other Spark Business Incubator clients. The students assist with business plan development, financial statements, and fostering financial literacy.
“The tools the entrepreneurs will receive when preparing finances are useful throughout the lifetime of their business,” said Graduate Assistant of Finance, Marisa Bishop ‘22 MBA ‘23. “While I am helping prepare these clients for funding, I am also gaining valuable experiential learning that is preparing me for a future career in the finance industry.”