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Radio One Raleigh is proud to announce that we are expanding our partnership with tech company Lenovo in an effort to uplift small businesses in North Carolina!

As you know, Lenovo has been the local presenting sponsor of Radio One Raleigh’s Black Business Directory, which shines a light on our local, Black-owned businesses in the Triangle. Since then, Lenovo has taken things a step forward by way of its Evolve Small campaign. Launched in 2021, Evolve Small’s goal is to empower small businesses across North America, especially women and minority-owned companies, through grant and technology donations, mentorship, and community engagement activities. Last month, Lenovo announced the addition of award-winning entertainer Queen Latifah as a 2022 campaign partner.

Gerald Youngblood, Chief Marketing Officer for Lenovo North America, said in a press release, “It is such an honor to have Queen Latifah as our Evolve Small ambassador this year. Given our mission to help small businesses evolve, finding a partner who exemplified smart business acumen and an affinity for philanthropy was paramount to making sure this initiative would truly make an impact. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and with Queen Latifah as our partner, we look forward to supporting small businesses across North America.”

The Grammy & Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated artist and entrepreneur added: “I understand the hardships small businesses face and how much more challenging those hardships can be for businesses owned by women and minorities. Knowing how the support I received back when I got started helped me get to where I am today – I’m excited to pay it forward and help others along the way through this partnership with Lenovo’s Evolve Small initiative.”

Locally, Radio One Raleigh is excited to partner with Lenovo to help local entrepreneurs build their businesses with much-needed resources and opportunities. With that, Lenovo and Microsoft are sponsoring an Evolve Small Mentorship Contest. Businesses with less than 100 employees can submit a 30-second-to-two-minute video pitching their business for a chance to win a $30,000 cash grant, $10,000 in Lenovo technology upgrades, and a mentorship session with Queen Latifah. There will be three grand prize winners and four runner-up winners. Each of the four runner-up winners will receive a $5,000 cash grant and one $5,000 package of Lenovo tech and solutions. Lenovo is accepting submissions at  Lenovo.com/EvolveSmall and the application process ends on November 15, 2022.

This is just the latest initiative that Lenovo is offering to give local entrepreneurs a leg up. Earlier this year, Lenovo partnered with the Carolina Panthers to host the Empowering the Carolinas contest for the second consecutive year. After over 650 entries, 10 NC businesses (including Raleigh’s Black Dollar Corp.) received $5,000 worth of technology solution upgrades from Lenovo and Microsoft, and tickets to the Panthers’ Aug. 26 preseason game versus the Buffalo Bills. The grand prize winner, Charlotte’s Hip Hop Smoothies, also received a $100,000 advertising package with the Panthers during the 2022-2023 NFL season.