What does the first grocery store in the Lower 9th Ward since Katrina, a mobile app to tackle food insecurity, a farmsteading education program, and Louisiana’s first milk bank have in common? Each venture was a finalist at the recent PitchNOLA: Living Well, which brought together entrepreneurial solutions that will get New Orleanians healthier, more active and better nourished.
Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation–organizer and host to PitchNOLA–initially requested that participating ventures should focus on financially sustainable ideas that tackle inefficiencies, opportunities, and bottlenecks in six main areas: nutritious, affordable and easy-to-access food, health conditions, physical activity, service delivery coordination, maternal & child health, and access to health insurance.
Ten ventures were selected to pitch on April 21st in front of a packed house of community members, health advocates, and a panel of judges including Dr. John Elstrott, Dr. Florencia Polite, and Dr. Joe Kanter.
“To see people from the community take initiative and bring creative new ideas to the table that are NOLA-based and NOLA-centric is not only inspirational, it’s the way we’re going to move forward as a city,” said Dr. Kanter.
Propeller awarded $10,000 in seed funding to three of the final ventures.
The Lower 9th Ward Market, the first food store to open in the area since Katrina, took home first place and $5,000. The market is currently run by Burnell and Keasha Cotlon at the corner of Caffin Avenue and North Galvez Street.
Second place and $3,000 went to Community Plates, a current Propeller Accelerator Fellow. The venture has created a mobile app solution to food waste and food insecurity using volunteers.
Urban Farmstead was awarded third place and $2,000 for their educational center dedicated to teaching Permaculture design and homesteading skills while also providing vegetables and starter plants through its sister organization, Southbound Gardens.
Propeller also offers up an Audience Favorite award supported by community donation. This year’s award totaled $1,310.44 and was given to Birthmark Doulas’ latest initiative, the NOLA Milk Bank, a service to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies through access to a safe, high quality supply of donor breast milk.