Brooklyn Public Library’s 16th Annual PowerUP! Business Plan Competition Awards Top Prize of $20,000 to Prana, A Social Savings and Credit Mobile App

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

In Total $40,000 Awarded to Brooklyn Entrepreneurs Including Title IX, A Sports Bar for Women and The Suite I Do, A Micro Wedding and Elopement Company
For image of winners click here.

Brooklyn, NY—Brooklyn Public Library’s 16th annual PowerUP! Business Plan Competition awarded $40,000 to aspiring entrepreneurs at a pitch competition and awards ceremony last night. Dime Community Bank presented the $20,000 grand prize to the creators of Prana, a mobile app which automates the community or family-based saving circles common in many immigrant communities.

A judging panel of business owners, nonprofit leaders and academics selected Prana from a field of 87 entries, most of whom had no previous business experience. For the first time this year, all eight finalists were women-owned businesses.

“For more than 15 years, PowerUP! has reflected Brooklyn’s great spirit of invention,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson. “We congratulate all of the participants for their vision and determination, and extend our gratitude to Dime Community Bank for their generous support of all the winners.”

Five participants were recognized with merit awards and $1000 of seed money. The merit winners pitched their ideas to the live audience at Central Library who voted for their favorite. Bintumani Botanicals was awarded the audience choice award, earning an additional $1000 for creators Isha Mary and Rugiatu Jalloh, whose products include moringa powders and teas.

The other merit winners were: Stephanie Chen for Wild Magic Beauty, high quality skincare products featuring botanicals from traditional Chinese medicine; Afiya Lahens for Adama Athletics Brand; an online athleisure boutique for girls, ages 10 to 14, inspired by 9-year-old kid-preneur and fierce fashionista Ayani Wallace; Sharon Parks for Pop’s Hot Oil, spicy oils for adventurous eaters without added sugar or salt; and Lori Kranczer for Raising Junior, skincare products for children with sensitive skin, special needs or sensory issues, made with all natural ingredients.

"At Dime, we have a history of 155 years of community support in Brooklyn,” said Kenneth J. Mahon, President and CEO, Dime Community Bank. “The Brooklyn Public Library’s PowerUP! Program showcases the entrepreneurial spirit of Brooklyn today, and Dime is proud to partner with Brooklyn Public Library for this program. Congratulations to the 2019 winner, and we wish them all great success!"

PowerUP! first began in 2003, as a way to provide businesses a helping hand after 9/11. Since then, the PowerUP! contest has provided $450,000 to over 125 entrepreneurs. Many successful Brooklyn businesses launched with help from PowerUP! including Bogota Latin Bistro, Island Pops, Green in Brooklyn, Tinsel Experiential Design, DogSpot and Greenlight Bookstore. 

All participants attended classes on subjects like marketing, business finance and the utilization of library resources. They also received one-on-one business plan assistance from successful entrepreneurs and business experts.

Past winners—including Island Pops, Brooklyn Brewed Sorrel, Jess Pudd’in, Tamra Teahouse and Bogota Latin Bistro—returned to the Library to provide refreshments for the ceremony.

Dime Community Bank is the lead sponsor for Power UP, generously providing the first-place winner with $20,000 in seed money. Additional funding is provided by, Con Edison, ReferenceUSA, Elizabeth Crowell & Robert Wilson, Ridgewood Savings Bank and Signature Bank.

To learn more about the competition, you can view a short video here.


About Brooklyn Public Library 
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest library system in the United States with 60 neighborhood libraries located throughout the borough. BPL offers free programs and services for all ages and stages of life, including a large selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, literacy programs and public computers. BPL’s eResources, such as eBooks and eVideos, catalog information and free homework help, are available to customers of all ages 24 hours a day at our website.