Four entrepreneurs make their pitch Shark Tank style, launching a Quad-Cities program to mentor business owners from underserved communities.
On Acissa Chamia's first day selling samosas — flaky pastries filled with vegetables, meat, or fish — at the Freight House farmers market, she ran out in two hours.
"I thought, 'Oh, that's good; next time I will make more," Chamia recalled.
The next weekend she sold out after three hours. She kept adding more until she was selling more than 1,000 samosas each weekend at the farmers' market. Now, customers book orders for frozen samosas directly, and brick-and-mortar eateries such as Chill Ice Cream and Eats at the Freight House in Davenport and Radicle Effects Brewerks in Rock Island offer her samosas on their menus. On her list of goals is opening a food truck and hiring additional employees to propel her business, called Mozbites.
Chamia was one of four Black women entrepreneurs to undergo an eight-week workshop from SCORE Quad-Cities, a small-business incubator, and pitch their business Shark Tank-style to compete for available funds.
Thomas Trone, the district director of SCORE, said the program was the first of its kind for any chapter of SCORE, and he hoped the pilot program would grow to include more entrepreneurs from underserved populations in the Quad-Cities.
"SCORE has been around for years, but we have not done a good job of serving many segments in our communities, including Black entrepreneurs, Hispanics, women and veterans," Trone said. "So, over the past year, SCORE has built a platform, a set of resources to address the specific and unique needs of those segments of our community. This program is a pilot, where we focused on Black women entrepreneurs in this community, in partnership with Project NOW, who helped us identify candidates and helped us host this program."
The four women were scored on identifying a problem and solution with their business, customer, market viability, value proposition, and marketing and growth strategy.
Chamia won $750 on Friday after she delivered her pitch to a panel of four local judges at Rock Island High School. She plans to use it to purchase a warmer to keep samosas hot at the farmers market.