Since 2019, the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) has been supporting Atlanta’s Black small business community with connections, programming, and resources that help facilitate their business growth at scale. Through an innovative partnership with the Disney Corporation, 35 RICE-supported businesses, and 60+ stakeholders and their business affiliates got an insider’s look at the inner-workings of the supply-chain and how best to prepare as a potential vendor for corporate partners.
As part of Disney’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the corporation has made a goal of spending $1 billion annually with diverse suppliers by 2024. This inaugural accelerator program will help RICE stakeholders become competitive with their offer and bids, hopefully resulting in contracts being executed and opportunity expanded. Collaborations like these from socially aware and responsible corporations, like Disney, help close the opportunity gap experienced by many women and minority-owned small businesses.
The collaboration with RICE is part of Disney’s Future Storytellers, an initiative that empowers the next generation of creators and innovators. RICE stakeholders had a chance to experience the Disney magic up-close and in-through a series of panels, networking opportunities, and exclusive behind-the-scenes tours.
During the two-day experience, two of RICE Stakeholders M-T Strickland, CEO of Metric Mate and Dr. Bianca Kiovanni, CEO of Simplicity Beverage Company had an opportunity to talk about their business in front of some of Disney’s Supply Chain team and fellow RICE stakeholders. RICE’s youngest CEO, 10-year old Zoe Oli also wowed participants with her company, Beautiful Curly Me.
“The RICE Supply Chain Accelerator program delivers the necessary expertise and insight for entrepreneurs to take the next step and we are grateful for Disney’s sponsorship,” says Jay Bailey, President and CEO of the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs. “This partnership is exceptionally meaningful during a time when equitable opportunities have never been more important.”
We are excited to announce that Disney and RICE have agreed to extend the partnership with even more RICE stakeholders, expanded programming, and a greater fast-track to entrepreneurial success and more “happily ever after”s.