Eight small businesses in Central Arkansas were selected Wednesday to participate in the third Spark! initiative, a 10-week program aimed at boosting entrepreneurship in the region.

The pre-accelerator program at the Little Rock Venture Center provides mentorship and other assistance to start-up businesses with an emphasis on sales, public relations, marketing, pitching, storytelling, and other vital areas that boost growth.

“The Venture Center and our partners are thrilled to work with the 2021 Spark! cohort, which includes a variety of entrepreneurs from a diverse group of industries,” Ashley Jones, the venture center’s managing director of community programs, said in a news release. “Seeing participants challenge themselves and grow from being a part of Spark! is important for our community and its economic strength, and it’s deeply rewarding and inspiring on a personal level — a sentiment shared by program participants across the board.”

The cohort includes eight entrepreneurs from various sectors, ranging from entertainment to transportation. The event also is sponsored by the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, and Arvest Bank. Sponsors will provide resources that include market research and consulting services.

This year’s participants include:

• Ayana Baraka of Edamame Films in the education and entertainment sector.

• Miya Blackmon of Little Rock Lighting in the sports field

• Whitney Gray of Whit’s End, a home-services provider.

• Benjamin Harrison of FareMarket in the agriculture and food retail segment.

• Moesha Howard of Infidimensional Skin, a beauty services company.

• Tammy Iosbaker of The Frame Maker in the retail industry.

• Kissa Kimble of Elite Recruiting in the transportation sector.

• Soroya Tucker of VLS Waste Solutions in the waste management industry.

The program, which started Wednesday, ends Dec. 8.


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