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5 finalists of inaugural Stacy's Rise Project unveiled

Entrepreneur and food expert Padma Lakshmi will announce a $100,000 grand prize winner on Women's Entrepreneurship Day, November 19.

Since May, more than 400 businesswomen in the food and beverage industry have been sharing their creative ideas and business aspirations as applicants of the inaugural Stacy's Rise Project, all hoping to become the next "Stacy," the trailblazing entrepreneur Stacy Madison who has become a household name thanks to Stacy's Pita Chips.

In its mission to help women rise, the Stacy's Rise Project today announced that group has been narrowed down to five finalists eligible for its grand prize of $100,000 (to be awarded in November), all of whom will immediately receive a $20,000 grant and partake in a three-month executive mentorship program to advance their business plan.

Padma Lakshmi–entrepreneur, food expert, actress, and best-selling author–helped select the five finalists, including:

  • Hannah Dehradunwala, New York City, New York, who built Transfernation as the first technology-based, on-demand food rescue service, allowing food providers to request pickups for untouched extra food to be taken to local homeless shelters or food banks.
  • Pilar Gonzalez, Mission, Texas, who started Habibi Gourmet in her home kitchen to create preservative-free dips in a variety of flavors and textures.
  • Kate Holby, Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania, whose Ajiri Tea employs women in western Kenya to make the packaging for the tea and coffee boxes and donates 100% of the profits to the Ajiri Foundation to pay school fees for orphans. The tea is handpicked on small-scale farms in western Kenya.
  • Hannah Hong, Los Angeles, California, who founded Hakuna Brands, a plant-based line of frozen desserts featuring real fruit rather than refined sugar.
  • Michele Liddle, Victor, New York, who started Perfect Granola on the foundation of giving back, hiring at-risk youth and sharing 5% of profits with homeless shelters, outreach centers and food banks.

"Each of the finalists have seamlessly blended innovation, business acumen and a commitment to philanthropy, and the results are highly-successful enterprises poised for even more greatness," said Lakshmi. "By championing these five women, we are opening up the dialogue to the larger systemic issue surrounding the funding gap for female-founded businesses in hopes that we can help to create parity and a more inclusive environment for business owners."

The judging panel also included Frito-Lay and Stacy's brand executives; Sean Kelly, co-founder and CEO of SnackNation; and Elizabeth Gore, president and chairwoman of Alice, the AI-based virtual advisor for female entrepreneurs. As part of the selection process, the panel weighed the businesses' creativity and originality, scalability and strategic fit within PepsiCo and their larger mission of Sustainability and Diversity efforts.

"At Frito-Lay, we have a unique opportunity to create more opportunities for women both inside and outside our organization when we connect the power of a brand like Stacy's and expertise of our people with female innovators who are driving the future of the food and beverage industry," said Ciara Dilley, vice president of marketing, Frito-Lay North America. "It was incredibly inspiring to see the passion, creativity and strategic thought put into the hundreds of submissions we received, which made it very challenging to select these five finalists who we feel ultimately represent the depth and quality of not just our Stacy's Rise applicants, but thousands more women whose ideas and aptitude deserve investors' consideration."   

Over the next three months, the five finalists will be paired with two dedicated Frito-Lay mentors and connected with subject matter experts in digital media, innovation and business strategy to advise them on their business plan before a formal presentation helps determine the $100,000 grand prize winner, to be announced by Lakshmi on November 19, Women's Entrepreneurship Day. Join the finalists and their mentors on their Stacy's Rise journey by following #RiseProject2019 on social media. For more information on the five finalists and the Stacy's Rise Project, visit stacysrise.helloalice.com.

Source: Frito-Lay North America

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