RG&E Awards $25,000 to Rochester Startup Little Black Buddha

Grant will enable career services software development to support skill cultivation in underserved communities

RG&E announced it has awarded a $25,000 economic development grant to Rochester-based startup Little Black Buddha (LBB), a black- and woman-owned career services software company. 

The funding will support the company’s efforts to develop a new software to assist job candidates with moving between industries as the job market demands fluctuate and change. The grant is part of RG&E’s Innovation Zone – Ignition Grant Program, one of the company’s many economic development funding assistance programs.

LBB is a career services and software development company that helps individuals determine their next major career move. The company’s software under development will help job candidates assess and develop their innate talents and skills to help them become more adaptable and desirable candidates in the job marketplace.

“I’m grateful to RG&E for believing in the potential of LBB to make an impactful change in our community,” said Ahlia Kitwana, LBB owner and founder. “LBB’s focus is to support those in our community who have been overlooked and underserved in the past. There is a large population of our community that needs help nurturing and growing their potential. Our services will be that resource and help people develop skills that will allow them to thrive.”

RG&E’s Innovation Zone – Ignition Grant Program is designed to spur development of high growth potential business by awarding funds to early stage startup businesses. The awards are determined based on the technical and commercial opportunity of the businesses and will typically be made to a pre-revenue company at a proof-of-concept stage. The application screening for the program is facilitated by NextCorps.

“RG&E is a strategic partner in promoting a strong and healthy economy in the Greater Rochester region,” said Joe Rizzo, Manager of Economic Development at RG&E. “We’re committed to helping customers like LBB expand their businesses. LBB personifies the Innovation Zone – Ignition Grant Program as it was created to provide crucial support to high growth potential startups. LBB’s platform to drive workforce development is an absolute necessity to strengthen our economy. RG&E also firmly believes that diversity, equity, and inclusion remain important elements of workforce development. We are also appreciative to NextCorps for their partnership in finding strong applicants, like LBB, who will be an integral part of our region’s success.”

RG&E and its sister company, NYSEG, provide a variety of economic development grant assistance programs which include support for infrastructure and energy efficiency improvements, productivity/growth-targeted activities for the manufacturing sector, and sustainable investments to revitalize distressed business corridors and districts. Since 2010, RG&E and NYSEG have provided more than $100 million in economic development assistance to support nearly 700 projects, leveraging more than $5 billion in private sector and capital investments in New York state.

For more information on Little Black Buddha and the Pathways software platform, visit ifundwomen.com/projects/pathways-discover-your-gifts-superpowers. For more information on RG&E, visit rge.com. RG&E is a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc.