Women minority entrepreneurs show skills at small business South Bend

SOUTH BEND — On Saturday, the parking lot at the Charles Black Center turned into a sampler platter of what minority women can do, from creating spicy cuisine to healing achy muscles and the emotional wounds of sexual abuse.  

The city’s Small Business Launch Pad, aimed at helping minority women entrepreneurs, even drew a 4-year-old girl and her beauty products. 

The city’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion wanted to give the businesses a boost after the pandemic — that is, to get some cash flowing for them. The first hour of this all-day event, under dry but cloudy skies, didn’t yet draw a lot of visitors, but it got some of the 37 vendors to visit each other’s booths.  

Case in point: Hunger quickly struck Laquisha and Ronnie Jackson once they opened their tent for Hope for the Hungry, a charity she’d started a year ago to help food-insecure families who aren’t reached by other pantries.  

The charity now offers pop-up pantries, and Laquisha hopes to set up in a building one day where she could offer meals. But Laquisha, who also started a catering business called Soulful Kitchen three years ago, teaches classes on healthy eating at places such as the library and churches, too. She doesn’t just want to feed the needy.   

“I’m a firm believer in moderation,” she explained. “Make sure you get those goods in your body.” 


So Ronnie walked over to the tent across from them for inspiration and ideas: A Bite with Mee, serving up unique vegan Korean and Mexican dishes. He stepped away with a burrito and nachos, both made with quinoa, lentils and 12 organic veggies, including the microgreens grown at the urban Sunchoke Farms in South Bend. Instead of processed cheese sauce on the nachos, there was a lookalike: a coconut curried sweet potato sauce. 

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