Stacy’s Rise Project is raising money to empower women in Southern Dallas and across the country

by Ginni Beam, Special Contributor | March 14, 2019

Stacy Madison, founder and owner of Stacy’s Pita Chips, knows the challenges women face when starting their own businesses. Despite showing early promise, securing the capital she needed to expand her business proved difficult. “We had the money we’d stocked up from the food cart and from my credit card — something I don’t recommend,” Stacy recalls. “When we needed more capital, I went to the bank and was granted a $60,000 loan, but less than a year later I went back and asked for a $500,000 loan. The bank said no.”

Sadly, the statistics validate Stacy’s experience. Studies show that female business owners are consistently denied access to the growth opportunities and financial investment that can make or break a new enterprise. For example, despite owning 38 percent of all American businesses, female entrepreneurs receive only about 2 percent of all venture funding.

Inequality is especially rife in the culinary field, where women hold less than a quarter of leadership positions. That’s why Stacy’s Pita Chips has made addressing these disparities an integral part of its mission.

The brand, whose origins date back to a single Boston-based food cart, is now part of Plano-headquartered Frito-Lay North America, the $15 billion convenient foods division of PepsiCo, Inc. One of the core values that guides PepsiCo’s operations is a commitment to bettering the communities where its employees live and work, as well as embedding purpose into all aspects of its business. This principle synergizes with Stacy’s aim of leveling the playing field for women in business.

To both celebrate and support hardworking businesswomen, Stacy’s Pita Chips is launching the year-long Stacy’s Rise Project. In partnership with United Way Worldwide, Stacy’s will donate $100,000 to the Women United® program. This growing global force of more than 75,000 women is dedicated to championing women’s causes, including entrepreneurship.

In addition to the donation, consumers will have the chance to help Stacy’s meet its goal of raising $200,000 for United Way through $10 donations to the nonprofit. With each donation, Stacy’s will send consumers limited-edition Stacy’s Pita Chip bags that feature vibrant original artwork created by female artists. This continues Stacy’s two-year-old tradition of commemorating Women’s History Month with special packaging. This year’s collection depicts the steps female entrepreneurs take on their journey to success: Inspiration, Courage, Grit, Nourishment, Success and Community.

100 percent of the donations from consumers will support United Way’s efforts to reduce the funding gap for female-founded businesses. Moreover, $20,000 of the $100,000 total Stacy’s is providing to United Way has already been earmarked for Southern Dallas Thrives, an initiative of Frito-Lay North America, the PepsiCo Foundation and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Those dollars will help the advancement and support of women in historically underserved communities across Southern Dallas.

In particular, the Southern Dallas Thrives initiative strives to provide 200 mothers the opportunity to work through partnering with United Way agencies that provide mentorship, engagement activities, career access and funding support for daycare.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is a community-based nonprofit organization that believes in the power of unity to create lasting change. For over 90 years, they’ve brought people and resources together to strengthen the building blocks of opportunity and help the Dallas community thrive: education, income and health.

According to Jennifer Sampson, McDermott-Templeton president and chief executive officer of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, “Since the launch of Southern Dallas Thrives in October 2018, we have been proud to partner with Frito-Lay and the PepsiCo Foundation in effectively bridging our city’s opportunity gaps. As a big focus of this effort is directed to support the advancement of women in the Southern Dallas area, we are excited to see support of Southern Dallas Thrives through the Stacy’s Rise Project.”

Ciara Dilley, vice president of marketing at Stacy’s Pita Chips, is eager to see what Stacy’s Rise will accomplish. “As a female-founded brand, Stacy’s Pita Chips is proud to continue building upon a legacy focused on giving female entrepreneurs the support they need to accomplish their dreams,” she says. “It is important that the Stacy’s Rise Project makes impact in our immediate community. These funds will directly impact local women as they work to grow and nourish their professional endeavors.”

To complement these efforts, Stacy’s Pita Chips will also award $200,000 through a contest to help women grow their culinary businesses in 2019. A team of “Business Risers” will work with online entrepreneurial resource hub HelloAlice to select the winners. They will identify five female culinary entrepreneurs, each of whom will receive $20,000 in funding, consulting services and network-building support. One of these women will also take home a $100,000 grand prize award. Applications for the Stacy’s Rise Contest will open on April 12. For more information, visit stacyssnacks.com/riseproject.

You can support the critical work of promoting equality for female business owners by donating to United Way here. As a thank you for your donation of $10 or more, you will receive one of this year’s six limited-edition Women’s History Month Stacy’s Pita Chip bags as well as an 8”x10” print of the artwork itself.

To give directly to Southern Dallas Thrives or learn how you can get involved, visit SouthernDallasThrives.com.

This article was originally published by The Dallas Morning News and FWD>DFW had no influence on the content created.

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