Accion Neighborhood Entrepreneurship Lab Launches Third and Fourth Cohorts

On Thursday, August 29th Accion Serving Illinois & Indiana launched the third and fourth cohorts of the Neighborhood Entrepreneurship Lab (NEL). Eleven entrepreneurs from across Chicagoland were accepted into the rigorous nine-month program.


The NEL program was developed in partnership with The Chicago Community Trust and lead donor, Bob Crawford, to provide capital, coaching, and connections to entrepreneurs poised for growth. The program pairs small business owners with investors, advisors and mentors who provide intensive mentoring as well as introductions to influential contacts within their personal networks. In addition, each entrepreneur receives a $20,000 grant to grow their business.


Entrepreneurs accepted into the 2019-2020 cohort include Rachel Bernier-Green, Laine’s Bake Shop; Jordan Buckner and Isaac Lozano, Tea Squares; Eliuth Guzman, Latin Plate Catering; Atika Harris, Kiddie Steps 4 You; Abi Ishowo, Triple A Gourmet; Nicole Jordan-Reed, Nicole Jordan Catering; Omar Kamran, Magnolia Screen Printing; Amanda Mitchell, In Touch and Motion; Viviana Quinones and Nestor Maldonado, Nestor Maldonado Inc.; Iesha Trotter, BrownSugar’s Balloon Design; and Melissa Villanueva, Brewpoint Coffee.


“Accion is thrilled to welcome the new cohorts to the NEL program,” said Rowan Richards, Director of Coaching and Connections at Accion Serving Illinois & Indiana. “The goal of the NEL program is to help small businesses grow within the underserved neighborhoods of Chicago. By training and investing in this group of entrepreneurs, Accion is creating jobs and wealth in Chicago communities.”


Over the next nine months, entrepreneurs will meet frequently with their mentor and attend advisor-led workshops to help develop a new product or service. Cohort participants will also partake in a public graduation ceremony in May of 2020 at The Hatchery. To learn more about Accion Serving Illinois & Indiana’s coaching and lending services, visit