At SBAC Empower, we are passionate about helping entrepreneurs from disadvantaged neighborhoods who want to start a business, fill vacant store fronts and create jobs in their communities.

SBAC Empower’s mentoring program recruits and trains other small business owners to mentor those starting a business in Englewood, Lawndale, Austin, South Shore and other economically challenged neighborhoods. Opening businesses and creating jobs is so integral to changing the fortunes of these neighborhoods. A mentor who offers advice, support and accountability can be the difference between success and failure.

In honor of our Mentees and Mentors, we want to share some brilliant success stories highlighting these amazing people and their commitment to small business and neighborhood growth.

Empower Mentee Spotlight

Anjel Brown, Co-Founder, Resourceful Friends LLC

“My mentor, Phil, is amazing. He has taught me how to create a culture for my business and then be the culture I have created.  This [mentor] program has been very impactful, very instrumental in the growth of Resourceful Friends, LLC. And I really appreciate SBAC [Empower] for this platform and this opportunity…”


SBAC Empower Presents: Anjel Brown https://youtu.be/swig8oIPFNw

Anjel is a graduate of Entrepreneurial Training & Development of New Covenant CDC in North Lawndale. 

Dinitia Robinson, Owner/Creator, Embrace Love Designs

“Having SBAC Empower be exactly what their name means to empower me within such a hard environment….let me give you an example.  In the last 60 days, I buried 6 people. In the process I wanted to give up. But you know what I got? Scott (her mentor). Scott would text me randomly. Scott has an aura about him that can feel when you’re down and out, and that got me back on my ship.  I make custom designs, but through my relationship with Scott, I’m doing my own line of blazers and dresses and I’m excited about it!”


SBAC Empower Presents: Dinitia Robinson  https://youtu.be/RLAKzEQO1RM

Dinitia is a graduate of Entrepreneurial Training & Development at New Covenant CDC in North Lawndale. 

Karen Jones, President and CEO, Chocolate Chips Association, Non-profit 501(c)(3) S.T. E².A.M. Program for Girls

“A great benefit of attending the SBAC Empower Small Business training sessions held in 2017 at the Waukegan HUB was acquiring a business coach.  My business coach provided me a new view of the vision I originally had of our organization and was a great sounding board of where I wanted to go.  Working with a Business Coach, which was Phillip Gafka, allowed me to stretch my wings and we are now impacting over 300 youth yearly.”


Walter Mendenhall, Founder Male Mogul Initiative

Walter was born in Chicago, IL.  Walter is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Organizational Leadership, author, consultant, investor and founder of Male Mogul Initiative program which seeks to positively transform the way young men live and lead in their communities through leadership and entrepreneurial training.  In 2017, the Male Mogul Initiative provided mentoring services for over 10 Chicago Public Schools and serviced over 200 young men initially. Walter is currently a Mentee in the SBAC Empowers’ Mentoring Program.


SBAC Empower Presents: Walter Mendenhall  https://youtu.be/giCSBBn89gY

Walter is a graduate of Entrepreneurial Training & Development at New Covenant CDC in North Lawndale. 

Empower Mentor Testimonials

Stephen Ball, Senior Vice President / Chicago Market Executive, Business Banking, 5/3 Bank

“I appreciate the opportunity to help small business owners.   After 26 years of working with business which are primarily very established, I get to be reminded not only of hardships for the new entrepreneur, but also the advice that remains paramount to getting access to capital.   The ability to train a company early in their life cycle is selfishly very satisfying.   I feel like I’m making a difference. “

If you would like to participate in Empower’s Mentor Program as a Mentor or Mentee, please contact us directly.