The ESLI Initiative

Two Men Chatting Outside Business

Bridging gaps: Empowering entrepreneurs together

We engage local entrepreneurial leaders from East St. Louis with Washington University student teams and provide connections to make micro-enterprises sustainable


As people from different parts of the world come together, stories are shared and ideas are sparked. We are no exception.

We are Washington University graduate students who have worked previously in
a variety of sectors in different parts of the world.

We  believe in creating change - one local business at a time.


What the entrepreneurs say about us...

My experience as a ESLI participant and recipient has been one in a million. With the expert support from each team member of ESLI, I have been able to take an idea of a new business concept and bring it to life. I am proud to say I am an official business owner of one of the most innovative businesses in the region. I am building new relationships on many levels that will support my business for years to come and I have an extended business family, resources and support that will catapult my business into national success. This is due to the relationship between myself and the ESLI. They gave me new life and I am forever grateful!
— Arnold "Mr. TJ" Tutson, Owner of Rescue Cuts
ESLI has truly been a benefit to our business! The team is extremely remarkable and resourceful. I owe a debt of gratitude to the staff and volunteers of ESLI!
— MyKeia Crogier, Director of St. Clair County Volleyball Club