$1 million Black Ambition Prize is open for entries

Black Ambition has opened applications for the third annual Black Ambition Prize competition. The grand prize winner will receive $1 million, and at least 15 additional teams will receive prize awards of $15,000 to $250,000. 

Founded by Pharrell Williams and run by Miami’s Felecia Hatcher, Black Ambition has awarded funding and resources to 65 prize winners — totaling $6 million.

“As we approach year three of the Black Ambition Prize, we continue to build on our legacy of supporting and empowering Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs to achieve unparalleled success. This year presents even greater urgency with reports showing a drastic decline in funding for diverse founders in the venture space,” said Hatcher [pictured above], Black Ambition CEO, in a news release.

“The work that we’re doing is more important than ever. This year’s Prize is designed to provide a plethora of resources and opportunities to Black, Hispanic, and HBCU founders, allowing them to transform their innovative ideas into successful and impactful businesses,” added Hatcher, who founded her first business in 2008 and since then has co-founded Miami nonprofits, including the Center for Black Innovation, with her husband Derick Pearson.  

Last year, three South Florida companies landed in the top 50 in the nationwide competition and were among the 31 companies that received cash prizes, as well as participated in Black Ambition’s three-month accelerator. They are:

•        KAZMALEJE: Founded by LaToya Stirrup and her two sisters, KAZMALEJE is on a mission to help their customers experience better wash days by designing innovative hair tools and accessories.

•        JACQ’S: Founded by Barbara Jacques, JACQ’s is a vegan and sustainable skincare line created for women of color by women of color.

        Pressy: Founded by Erdina Francillon, Pressy is a bookings platform for people pressed for time finding help with small but special events.

To be eligible this year, participants must:

• Be or aspire to achieve a national or global business reach for their product and/or service;

• Have at least one founder or co-founder that identifies as Black/African/African American and/or Hispanic/Latino/a/Latinx;

• Have a member of the founding team that is defined as having a senior role, such as a VP or C-level role.

Learn more and apply here. The deadline is May 8.  

Black Ambition will also provide HBCU students and alumni with the opportunity to win an HBCU Prize. The grand prize winner is set to receive up to $200,000.  

New this year is Black Ambition has launched an 8-week So Ambitious HBCU pre-accelerator program. In an interview last year, Hatcher said one challenge Black Ambition encountered in year one and two is that many of the HBCUs offered few resources for entrepreneurs, such as entrepreneurship programs, accelerators, pitch contests, etc, and in some cases few resources were available in their cities either. This new program aims to offer support. Applications are now open and close on March 20 for the HBCU pre-accelerator program. Learn more here.

Beyond the money, Black Ambition offers mentorship and access to potential partners and resources through its extensive network. “It’s one thing if you have money, but then you’re still shut out of the rooms of key decisions makers,” Hatcher said last year. Black Ambition wants to change that.


Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at [email protected]

Nancy Dahlberg