Skip to main content

Digital tools help local business owners scale up

We Rise Together is supporting Women’s Business Development Center’s ScaleHigher program.

Technology can play an important role in helping a small business grow, for example by creating back-office efficiencies and improving marketing reach. Yet, many small business owners aren’t sure how to choose—and afford—the right technology for them.  

With $455,000 in grant funding from We Rise Together: For an Equitable & Just Recovery, the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) has been providing a free, 10-week program called ScaleHigher that helps entrepreneurs in Chicago grow their existing businesses as well as select and pay for digital tools to elevate their brand and drive sales.  

Araceli Nacipucha, owner of Los Barriles Restaurant Sports Bar in Albany Park, was a participant in a recent ScaleHigher cohort. Araceli and her husband opened their restaurant in May 2023 to bring traditional Yucatecan cuisine to their customers. Running the restaurant is all-encompassing, but Araceli is glad she carved out time to attend ScaleHigher.  

“The program helped me to have a better understanding of marketing and digital tools, and the importance of culture and values and being a good leader,” said Araceli. “This knowledge can help me to make more informed decisions for my business.” 

Upon completing the program, Araceli and each of the participants in her cohort received $1,500 for a digital tool or tools of their choosing. She is purchasing a recipe management and food cost program to save money and time. She is also adding gift cards to Los Barriles’ point of sale system and hiring a marketing company to increase the restaurant’s social media presence. 

ScaleHigher launched in the spring of 2021 and has since graduated 10 cohorts and a total of 144 attendees. We Rise Together began supporting the program in spring 2023, with funding that allowed WBDC to reach back out to graduates of their ScaleUp program—their program for early stage businesses—to deepen their business acumen. 

Alicia Goodwin, owner of Lingua Nigra, a handmade jewelry company, was a ScaleUp graduate who participated in the same ScaleHigher cohort as Araceli.  

“I love making connections with other like-minded business owners as well as the kind folks at the WBDC. ScaleHigher helped me focus on the micro and macro parts of my business. We focused on finances as well as really planning out most of the year so there would be less guessing and surprises as to what direction I might want the business to go in,” said Alicia. “I have always recommended ScaleUp and ScaleHigher to anyone who is a small business owner who needs extra help in making sure they have all the tools they need to keep their business going.”  

Alicia is excited to purchase a vlogging camera and a new phone, as well as extend subscriptions to Canva, Adobe Creative Suite, and CapCut so that she can create more marketing content for Instagram and YouTube.  

We Rise Together congratulates all the graduates of ScaleHigher. Small business owners are the backbone of Chicago’s neighborhood economies, and programs that help them keep their doors open and grow are critically important. We look forward to supporting additional support for small businesses in late 2024 and 2025.  

Leave a Reply