Bright Spot: Memphis organization hosts competition to recognize local businesses

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Minority Business Continuum recently held it's annual Robert R. Church Awards.

The Robert R. Church Awards recognizes the best women and minority owned businesses in the city in order to help them be successful.

"Our sweet spot at MMBC is to work with minority businesses and women owned businesses that are able to grow in order to meet the corporate demand," said Jozelle, member of MMBC.

This year, MMBC partnered with Zycron Founder and MMBC member Darrell Freeman to create the vendor of tomorrow's competition. Freeman put up $25,000 for grants to winning companies.

"The bigger piece of it is the coaching and the ongoing relationship that they will have with me and the other executives in this program," said Freeman.

To qualify for the competition, businesses must be women and minority owned, and they must be members of MMBC.

Competitors had to present a solid plan for moving their businesses forward with the money.

"Understanding that I'm on of the finalist for MMBC I got really excited, and I said 'you know, this is groundbreaking for my business," said Emmanuel Tuombe, member of MMBC.

Tuombe walked away with a $5,000 grant from the Vendor of Tomorrow competition. He plans to use the money to train his growing staff.

Bridgett Green was awarded a $5,000 grant as well, and she has been in business in Memphis for 20 years.

"We are looking at possibly improving our systems," said Green. "That was one of the reasons we wanted to go on and participate."

The big winner in the competition was Unistar Sparco - with the company receiving a $15,000 grant.

Freeman started his technology company with $2,000. He built the company to a $40 million a year business and sold it this year for more than $20 million.

He hopes that this seed of money for the Vendor of Tomorrow competition will help other small businesses grow.

"Maybe one will be bigger than Zycron - be better than Zycron," said Freeman.

Small businesses that are growing and thriving are a win for the entire community.