Hy-Vee Inc. awarded $50,000 to minority- and women-owned businesses during its recent OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit at The University Club in Moline, Illinois.
During the pitch competition component, 14 companies from across the Midwest presented to a panel of judges and more than 200 attendees. The company leaders were able to demonstrate their products or explain their services for a chance to win a small-business grant from the grocer.
A Hy-Vee committee selected the participating companies from more than 70 applications.
The grand prize went to Des Moines, Iowa-based The Joy of Curls. Led by Joy Hankins, the plant-based textured hair company uses ingredients found in nature. As a result, its products are multi-use and can be used by kids and caregivers, which simplifies grooming routines.
The company donates products to children in foster care, and customers can support this mission by purchasing from the Pumpkin Baby line. Joy of Curls also offers a digital hair styling class that helps caregivers learn how to style, apply products and detangle textured hair.
In the food and beverage category, Amanda Colanino and DogGurt from Bellevue, Nebraska, won first place ($5,000). DogGurt makes all-natural frozen treat available in six flavors. They are mixed and scooped by hand, with no added sugar or preservatives.
ATStudy Buddy, an online platform designed to help athletic training students study for the Board of Certification exam, took first place ($5,000) in the innovation and technology category. Led by Allison Strickland from North Liberty, Iowa, ATStudy Buddy offers seven practice exams mimicking the exam experience and provides feedback so students can see areas for improvement.
Receiving first place ($5,000) honors in the health, wellness and beauty category was Love Always, Abby and Abby Schlueter of Quincy, Illinois. The e-commerce store handcrafts and ships preserved rose arrangements across the U.S. With little to no care, the real, preserved roses can last a year or longer.
Sensiil Studios (Des Moines, Iowa) and Desserts by Design (Ottumwa, Iowa) were also presented with smaller cash prizes for their business ventures.
In addition, the following businesses also participated in the pitch competition:
- Illinois – Bao Destination, Bloomington; Origami Foods, Edwards; Green Current Solutions and Quad Cities Music Therapy, both of Moline; and Golden Bridges, Quincy.
- Iowa – Autistic & Loved, Davenport; and Bloom, Deep River.
- Missouri – GoPo Gourmet Popcorn, St. Fulton
Hy-Vee’s summit also featured an expo that offered resources for small businesses, learning opportunities through presentations and panel discussions and the chance to learn about local brands.
Read more independent store news from The Shelby Report.