All year long, the Minority Enterprise Development nonprofit helps minority business owners get their feet on the ground and their ideas to the next level. And once a year, they recognize what those entrepreneurs have accomplished. Said one winner, Roman Marin-Vera, “This country gives opportunity to everyone.”
Marin-Vera, who runs W, L & L, a building-maintenance company, was honored as Outstanding Minority Business, Service.
Bookseller Edith Segovia was recognized as Outstanding Minority Business, Retail.
Vist &Venture owner Cortina Caldwell was awarded Emerging Minority Business of the year.
Asheville-based nonprofit Mountain BizWorks was named Lender of the Year.
And Native Touch co-founder Joseph Riverwood was named 2012 Minority Business Person of the Year. Riverwood, a U.S. Army veteran, traditional musician and a tribal council member of the Taino Turabo Aymaco Tribe of Boriken (a Caribbean tribe), said his success is based on tradition, community and a desire to help others. He noted that his tribe once had a trade network that reached to the Cherokee lands, so by basing his business in Andrew, N.C., with help from wife and cofounder Laralyn RiverWind, who is Cherokee, he has come full circle.
Native Touch manufactures native, natural body-care products. About 10 years ago, the RiverWind started the business in their kitchen, but now, thanks to such assistance as a grant from the Sequoyah Fund, it has a 2,000-square-foot facility in Andrews. A Native American Community Development Institution and based in Cherokee, N.C., the Sequoyah Fund provides lending and training for business owners. Since 2001, it has helped more than 1,000 individuals, and approved 135 loans totaling about $4.6 million.
The MED Week of WNC is an Asheville-based nonprofit with almost 30 years’ experience “providing the best leadership and direction for the promotion, establishment and development of minority businesses in Western North Carolina through education, communication and advocacy.” For more information, follow the nonprofit on Facebook.