Topeka, KS — The Greater Topeka Partnership and GO Topeka are excited to announce four winners were selected from participants of the 2023 Equity and Opportunity Pitch Competition held Thursday evening in downtown Topeka. The pitch contest offered a chance for aspiring entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups to present their innovative ideas to some of the area’s business decision makers, competing for a portion of the $38,000 prize pool.


Eleven entrepreneurs and new business owners participated in Thursday’s pitch contest. Taking home first place was Chef Lamona Scroggins, who pitched her frozen gumbo product that will soon be offered in local grocery stores. Chef Lamona is well known for her gumbo and will offer chicken and sausage gumbo; a shrimp, chicken and sausage option; as well as a vegetarian option. Her frozen gumbos may be taken home and prepared according to directions, making her coveted creole cuisine even more accessible. Scroggins secured $15,000 from the pitch contest to make that expansion into stores possible.


The following pitch contest winners were also recognized:

  • 2nd place – The Grind Coaching & Consulting, Fatima Luthi for a new mobile app ($10,000)
  • 3rd place – Paletas Royale ice cream, Estaban Polanco ($8,000)
  • 4th place – Topeka Treats, Jaime Davis ($5,000)


“Congratulations to all our winners this year! There were some truly amazing presentations from people across the community, and I couldn’t be prouder to see women and minority entrepreneurs stepping up to represent and take advantage of this special opportunity,” said Glenda Washington, chief equity and opportunity officer for the Greater Topeka Partnership. “One of our goals with this pitch contest has been to help bridge the gap that exists for many diverse entrepreneurs when it comes to accessing capital. I’m happy to say we’ve done that, while providing greater exposure to entrepreneurship for some and increased visibility of disadvantages many minority entrepreneurs continue to face today. This event is a win for Topeka and Shawnee County.”


The 2023 Equity and Opportunity Pitch Competition brought together local business leaders and optimistic newcomers for an evening of meaningful presentations and business dialogue. Cash prizes awarded to winners are expected to provide both startup capital and funds to expand current operations.