The BALSA Foundation’s East St. Louis Initiative (ESLI) held it's 3rd Annual Pitch Competition on October 27th, 2017. Nine entrepreneurs from the Greater St. Louis area (including 4 from East St. Louis) participated in the competition, representing local entrepreneurial ventures in industries ranging from retail, human resources, healthcare, and nonprofit. A panel of 3 experienced judges voted for the best pitches on the basis of the robustness of the ideas and the opportunity for ESLI to add value, and selected four entrepreneurs to receive six months of pro bono consulting services from teams of Washington University’s graduate business students. This consulting engagement will aid entrepreneurs in furthering their ventures, with expertise in areas such as strategy, finance, marketing, business development, legal and nonprofit management, free of any charges.
ESLI's 2017-2018 cohort (winners of the Pitch Competition) are:
- Diabetes Education Augmenting Lifestyles-Center and Clinic, or DEAL-C2, focused on providing diabetes education to diabetic patients in underserved communities
- Franklin Staffing Solutions, a temporary employment agency focused on helping the East St. Louis community
- Ladybits, a personal care firm that provides all-natural, probiotic moisturizers for women
- Tendresse and Sage, a handmade soap company based out of East St. Louis