Meet our Accelerator Hub Finalist: Cydney Preston, founder of Iced Out Water Ice

Iced Out Water Ice 

Crime rates in the U.S. have significantly declined over the last decades but the incarceration rate has increased. As per the latest data from the U.S. Department of Justice, around 65,000 Americans are released from prison annually. The increasing rates of incarceration has resulted in a large population of formerly incarcerated individuals across the United States. 

These individuals make a difficult transition from prison to re-entering society. During the transition, they face many challenges and roadblocks including finding a stable job and living a normal life like everyone else. The unemployment rate of formerly incarcerated individuals is nearly five times higher than the general population in the United States. 

As a second chance for the formerly incarcerated individuals, now businesses are making a huge difference in their lives by providing them with stable employment opportunities. Keeping this in mind, Cydney Preston has come up with a brilliant street cart business model called Iced Out Water Ice. She exclusively employs formerly incarcerated individuals to provide them with career opportunities at a competitive wage and unbiased workplace. 

Cydney Preston,  our Aspiring Entrepreneur 

Cydney Preston, a New York based African American, is the founder of Iced Out Water Ice. This mission-led for-profit street cart provides quality Italian ice and ice cream  to the East Harlem community. She exclusively employs formerly incarcerated individuals to provide them with a second chance to re-shape their lives. 

Iced Out Water Ice is a 4-month-old start-up that has a B2B/B2C business model. The main idea is to serve Italian ice and ice cream that can be consumed by all ages making everyone in the community enjoy them. Her customers are the East Harlem community which currently account for 111,452 individuals, that is 48,006.4 people per square mile. 

Her vision of becoming a successful woman entrepreneur made her come up with a unique street cart business idea that is not only socially conscious but also aims to reduce recidivism in her community.

Positive Planet US Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in the US 

Cydney Preston is an aspiring woman entrepreneur. Since it’s her first business, she is eager to acquire the in-depth knowledge and skills to become a successful entrepreneur and create a thriving start-up business. She applied for the Positive Planet Accelerator Hub program to learn from our industry experts and explore the business opportunities that can help make it a tangible profitable business.

We at Positive Planet US, are proud to support rising entrepreneur, Cydney Preston with our Accelerator Hub Program.  Our program is especially designed to provide 1:1 coaching for minority women entrepreneurs who are at the early stages of their entrepreneurial journey and looking to take their new business ideas to the next level.

Meet our Accelerator Hub Finalist: Emily Penzo, founder of North Node

North Node

According to The 2020 Nonprofit Employment Report by John Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, the non-profit sector is the third largest private employer in the US. Despite an increased number of volunteers, the estimated total value was $167 billion in 2017, a $17 billion decrease from 2015. While more people are volunteering over time, they are doing so for fewer hours total as reported but the Corporation for National & Community Service, “Volunteering in America.”

During these unprecedented times, non-profit organizations are strained. All aspects of their work have been impacted and the pandemic has triggered a funding crisis.

Non-proft organizations are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in different ways. Some of them are now unable to run their organization because of the lack of financial resources, and social distancing policy, whereas others face an unprecedented surge in demand, such as food banks and medical support. 

More than ever, non-profit organizations need to reinvent themselves, find new ways of working in the sector and new opportunities to survive. 

Emily Penzo, our Aspiring Entrepreneur 

Emily Penzo, one of the Accelerator Hub finalists aspires to support non-profit organizations. 

She started in the sector by volunteering for a breast cancer non-profit organization called You Can Thrive, where she is now a board member. You Can Thrive is a breast cancer non-profit organization that provides a well-being service for those diagnosed with cancer, helping survivors to heal their mind, body, and spirit, so that they can thrive. 

As a cancer’s survivor herself, she found strength to fight her cancer thanks to this organization. Getting support from them, and seeing how devoted they were, has inspired Emily to help others who are enduring difficult times. Ultimately, it helped her take the leap to change her life path and become an entrepreneur. 

Emily’s entrepreneurial journey starts with North Node, a social enterprise startup that connects volunteers and non-profit organizations in NYC.

North Node aims to provide user friendly service and unique experience for individuals to join philanthropic communities and build meaningful everlasting connections. 

North Node tagline is “connecting Minds, Hands and Hearts for a better tomorrow”. It is a volunteer recruitment management platform and a donation fundraising system for non-profit organizations. It is also an open platform for volunteers to share their passion and give back to the community. This support to better match volunteers and non-profit organizations is essential to assure NGOs can run properly.

Through the realization of her entrepreneurial dream, Emily found her life purpose. It is to create a positive impact for the community, particularly non-profit organizations in NYC where she lives. Emily said that her goal is to be

“A social entrepreneur that can lift up her community and make a difference in this world”.

Positive Planet US Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in the US 

Emily has applied to the Positive Planet US Accelerator Hub program in order “to gain valuable business insights that can help North Node reach new heights”. Our accelerator aims to provide Emily with all the necessary tools and resources she needs to turn her passion and ideas into a thriving business. Through this Accelerator Hub, we aim to deliver PPUS’s core purpose, that is, to empower underprivileged community members by providing them means to become entrepreneurs.

We, at Positive Planet US, support social entrepreneurship initiatives. We believe that businesses should support a social cause and improve the world we live in. For this reason, it is an honor for us to support Emily with her North Node project. We truly hope her project will bring a positive impact to the nonprofit sector.

Meet our Accelerator Hub Finalist: Emily Penzo, founder of North Node

Meet our Accelerator Hub Finalist: Julie Obaso, founder of Douglas Digital Kids

Douglas Digital Kids

“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children”

said Nelson Mandela.

Children are our nations’ future and tomorrow’s citizens, that is why it is essential to start teaching them moral values while they’re still young. 

With the rise of new technologies, children are spending more time than ever in front of screens. It is particularly affecting the Black and Hispanic communities in the United States, where “Black and Hispanic children consume nearly 4½ hours more media daily than white children (13 hours of total media exposure for Hispanics, 12:59 for Blacks, and 8:36 for Whites), according to Tufts University.

Despite the fact that Black and Hispanic kids are consuming more television than their peers, white characters are still dominating the media industry. Media plays a huge role in the acceptance of racial diversity and understanding of different cultures. Because children identify with television characters, it is more important than ever to make sure that the images children are seeing on television are a proper reflection of their real environments and it is paramount to give them something to aspire to. 

Julie Obaso, our Aspiring Entrepreneur

Our Accelerator Hub finalist, Julie Obaso, with her startup Douglas Digital Kids would like to fill this gap in the marketplace. The aim of her project is to create and showcase animated content and stories for Black children.  

Douglas Digital Kids is an interactive platform that is formatted as a cartoon series featuring various Black and African characters from around the world. 

Black American and African kids will therefore receive a fresh, redefined perspective and narrative of themselves, that is traditionally not shown on media screens in America and around the world. Not only will the series entertain, but it will enhance learning, literacy and self-esteem skills of Black children in America and the African diaspora. While Douglas Digital Kids will help alleviate a lack of sufficient diversity in the children’s entertainment sector, it will also benefit white children, who will be exposed to a diverse range of voices, cultures and perspectives.

In addition to helping young kids, this platform will also provide a place for Black content creators to display their talents to the community. Douglas Digital Kids will be a means for Black animators and content creators to tell their stories in their own voices, to showcase their talent and innovative art in an authentic, uplifting and meaningful way. 

Positive Planet US Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in the US 

Julie is a driven entrepreneur who would like to “raise representation in her community and uplift her community through positive initiatives”. She applied to the Positive Planet Accelerator Hub in order to build a solid foundation for her business, and develop her project to its highest potential. Our Accelerator Hub is a tailored coaching program that was developed to jumpstart these types of new initiatives operationally, providing them with structured business education and hands-on experience to help them evaluate market opportunities.

We at Positive Planet are proud to support Julie in taking her business to the next level and helping minority children finally have their voice represented in the media industry.  Douglas Digital Kids will help children of color improve their self confidence, gain a better understanding of their cultural heritage, and dream bigger. 

Meet our Accelerator Hub Finalist: Douglas Digital Kids

Meet our Accelerator Hub finalist: Bloom Design & Development

Bloom Design & Development

When it comes to gender equity in architecture, there is still a long way to go. Women are underrepresented in architecture at all levels of practice.  A survey by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) shows that only 15% of their licensed members are women. 

In the hope of forging a different future for women in this industry and breaking the status quo, Luisa Bustamante and Lucia Eastman have decided to join forces in order

“to have an impact on the built environment as women and to pave a new path for women today and for generations to come”.  

Our Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

Together, they have created Bloom Design & Development. With a combined experience of more than 20 years at some of the most prestigious architecture firms, their mission is to produce innovative and design-forward spaces that transform lives and neighborhoods for the better.

Their idea is to combine top-tier work experience with their unique cultural backgrounds to fill a longstanding gap for families and young professionals in the marketplace. 

The architecture industry has long been dominated by a pretty singular vision and group; limiting its scope and expression. By merging thoughtful design with a clear understanding of consumer needs, they want to give families, of all types, the opportunity to see themselves in a home that reflects their needs and values. 

They plan to implement this by buying land, building on it and designing living spaces themselves. By handling everything from scratch, they will have better control over the outcome, saving money and time.

Their objective is to provide quality architecture and socially-responsible developments that strengthen and enhance diverse communities.

Positive Planet US Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in the US

Luisa and Lucia applied to the Accelerator Hub program to get a guiding hand from experts in building their startups. They have a deep level of experience in design and architecture, but wanted to build expertise in business development and marketing. 

The Positive Planet US mentorship program was developed to help jump start businesses operationally, providing them with structured business education and hands-on experience with evaluating market opportunities in their niche and fine-tuning their business plans. During this mentorship program, Luisa and Lucia will get the support of their mentor to further define their products and services, identify potential customer segments, and learn how to apply for business loans. The tailored coaching program and skills developed during the accelerator will help them take their business to the next level.

Discrimination is not only a problem in the architecture world, it is a social problem. We, at Positive Planet US, believe in gender equality and we think it is important to have diverse opinions and viewpoints. Women and men, together, create a more balanced society, leading to an improvement in the quality of life for everyone. Our coaching program is set up to help Luisa and Lucia succeed in their entrepreneurial dream in this challenging industry for women.

Meet Our Finalist BLOOM

Smile In A Box

Positive Planet is pleased to announce the launch of its new initiative: Smile in a Box. 

Due to the pandemic, hunger has surged in the United States. It is estimated that 1 in 6 Americans could face hunger*. For this reason, we have decided to launch an emergency Covid-19 response to help families in need: Smile In a Box. 

We will be  joining forces with Branches Long Island to fight hunger in New York State. This partnership’s main objective is to combine Branches Long Island long-term experience in distributing food to families in need, and Positive Planet US expertise in running NGO programs and promoting entrepreneurship initiatives.  

This joint initiative is designed to extend the reach of Branches Long Island’s food distribution centers in order to help more families in need.

Positive Planet US will provide immediate relief to families directly impacted by Covid-19 in New York state by providing boxes of food and other essential products to them. 

In addition to providing immediate relief, Positive Planet will also grant free access to its eLearning platform to everyone in the program to help them develop their skills and abilities to succeed in their entrepreneurial dreams. In doing so, Positive Planet continues to promote social inclusion through entrepreneurship.

“I am delighted to see this new collaboration, together, by combining our field knowledge we are supporting two important Sustainable Development Goals: ending hunger, and economic growth”

said Ingrid Gonzalez, President and Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Positive Planet US.

This is Positive Planet US first initiative of this kind in the United States, we are looking to expand our reach in the United States by partnering with other NGOs. 

About Branches long Island: 

Branches Long Island was founded in 2019 by Samantha Morales after she realized the amount of people in need on Long Island. She started out doing it alone and once she became a legal 501c3 she quickly grew! She is joined by an amazing group of women who dedicate their time every week to better the community.

Branches Long Island helps those in need with no judgments. They work side by side with many social workers and homeless shelters on Long Island offering a variety of services. As of May 2020 they opened their first location in Middle Island, NY and plan to offer classes and counseling along with their weekly blessing boxes which provide necessities to the families in crisis on Long Island.

Accelerator Hub Finalists

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The Top 5 Finalists of Positive Planet’s Accelerator Hub Program  

In December 2020, Positive Planet US launched a new innovative program called the Accelerator Hub. This program has been set up to respond to economic inequity for underserved women in our local communities. We received over 100 applications, and our first cohort of participants was selected from the NY metropolitan area. 

After reviewing all the submissions, the Positive Planet’s Board of Directors selected the top 5 start-ups. These entrepreneurs will receive coaching from Capgemini’s Financial Services top leaders, who work with global financial services enterprises on optimizing their business.  At Positive Planet US, we are proud to partner with Capgemini for the class of March 2021 and delighted to announce our top 7 finalists from this great initiative. Our vision is to expand this program across the United States and accelerate as many businesses as possible

Our top 5 finalists of our Accelerator Hub Program

1. Cydney Preston – Iced Out Water Ice

Cydney Preston, an aspiring women entrepreneur who started Iced Out Water Ice, a socially conscious restaurant that provides quality Italian ice and customer service to the East Harlem community. Iced Out Water Ice is a mission-led for-profit restaurant that exclusively employs formerly incarcerated individuals while providing them career opportunities at a competitive wage and unbiased workplace.

2. Emily Penzo – North Node 

North Node is an early-stage social impact startup founded by Emily Penzo. It’s an North Node is an early-stage social impact startup founded by Emily Penzo. It’s an innovative platform connecting volunteers and nonprofits enabling socially conscious individuals to develop authentic meaningful connections. North Node’s goal is to create a full-fledged value-matching multi-platform app where members create their own personal profile, sign up for volunteering activities, and connect with other members that help pull them into a welcoming philanthropic community.

3. Jennifer J. – Business development Bootcamp 

Jennifer, founder of Business development Bootcamp aims at providing comprehensive training for Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs) to learn best business development practices at the comprehensive beginning, intermediate or advanced level. They are working to develop a curriculum that can be delivered online. (Subscriptions to online course material augmented by live and in-person classes).

4. Julie Obaso – Media/Entertainment for kids 

Julie Obaso, the founder of an innovative startup called Douglas Digital Kids based out of New York City has designed an interactive platform that creates and showcases animated content and stories for black children. Formatted as a cartoon series, and featuring various Black and African characters from around the world. The aim of Douglas Digital Kids is to bring positive changes by uplifting the African community in America and the African diaspora. The animated series will not only entertain but will upskill the learning and literacy skills of the kids.

5. Luisa Bustamante, Lori Oladipo, Lucia Eastman – BLOOM Design & Development

Luisa, Lori, and Lucia, three minority women founded BLOOM Design & Development. It is an architecture, design, construction and real estate development startup that aims to offer thoughtful and expert design, from a perspective that hasn’t traditionally had a voice.

With over 35 years of experience in the Architecture industry. Their idea is to combine top-tier work experience with unique cultural backgrounds and fill a longstanding gap in the marketplace.They plan to implement this by buying land or real estate that they can then design and build themselves to cater to the needs of the target group.

How will these startups benefit from our Accelerator hub program?

Our Accelerator program is a cutting-edge program that serves as a gateway for startups to look beyond borders and turn their vision into reality. These startups are now undergoing an 8-week mentorship program conducted by Capgemini leaders and other industry experts. The mentorship program was developed to jumpstart these businesses operationally, providing them with structured business education and hands-on experience with evaluating market opportunities in their niche and fine-tuning their business plans. During this one-on-one mentorship program, the finalists will define and build their products and services, identify potential customer segments, and learn how to apply for business loans. The tailored coaching program and skills developed during the accelerator will help take these businesses to the next level.

Positive Planet US guiding your entrepreneurial journey

Positive Planet US aims to nurture promising social entrepreneurship startups and help them turn their ideas into successful businesses. This program improves social inclusion for minority women in the United States by enhancing their opportunities and their chances for success.  

Thank you to all the candidates who took the time to apply to this program and congratulations to these amazing women on being selected!

The Top 5 Finalists of Positive Planet’s Accelerator Hub Program

A New Year’s Letter from Ingrid Gonzalez

Dear all,

As the end of the year draws near, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for an amazing 2020. Positive Planet launched in the United States in July with only one volunteer, in the middle of a pandemic. Now in December, we have over 60 persevering and energetic volunteers working to alleviate poverty and foster entrepreneurship. Despite living in challenging times, we are well on our way to making a monumental difference for those in need.

In 2021, we will continue our campaign to break the chains of poverty through promoting entrepreneurship initiatives. Our 2021 goal is to serve 10,000 future entrepreneurs and job seekers in marginalized communities in the United States and beyond; providing guidance and tools such as financial education, vocational training, access to financing, and monetary support. I am confident that we will create a more Positive Planet together.

I would like to end by personally thanking everyone who helped build a positive economy with us. Thank you for your compassion, dedication, and support for the betterment of others.

On behalf of the Positive Planet team we wish you and your family a positive holiday season and a happy new year.

Warm Wishes,

Ingrid Gonzalez – Positive Planet US President and Chairwoman

First Positive Planet Accelerator Hub in the United States

Positive Planet US is delighted to announce the launch of our first Accelerator program in the US. With the support of our partner Capgemini, we will conduct an 8-week program aimed at supporting minority women in the New-York Metropolitan Area launching successful startups.  

The Accelerator hub includes one-on-one training and will teach small business owners the ins and outs of business plans, finance, sales, marketing and everything else they need to know to run a successful business. Participants will also be offered access to special bonus sessions presented by key industry experts from exclusive partnerships.

Applications are open until January 6th to minority women entrepreneurs who have viable business ideas and that would contribute to positive economic, social, environmental or political change.

Combining visionary women with the next great idea and our team of Capgemini experts, our accelerator program will bring participants’ businesses to the next level.

Positive Planet’s first Accelerator program aims to improve social inclusion for minority women in the United States by enhancing their opportunities and their chances for success.  

On January 13th our board of directors will select 5 startup founders to participate in this unique Accelerator hub.  We are incredibly excited to welcome these incredible startup founders into our first Accelerator program.

Ingrid Gonzalez’ Podcast Interview to Listen to Right Now

Ingrid Gonzalez Empathy quote

If there’s one thing to take away from the 57th episode of the We Are for Good podcast for nonprofits, it is that:

“Empathy is the key to inclusivity and growth!”

Ingrid Gonzalez, Chairwoman and President of Positive Planet in the US

Growth is a word heard constantly in business. Even in the nonprofit world, where growing and being profitable translates to being able to help those in need. How do you grow a nonprofit from the ground up, with no funds in the middle of a pandemic? How do you create a culture of inclusion, where all differences are not only respected and valued, but encouraged?

Listen to the episode to find more out about Positive Planet’s mission to make the world more positive economically, socially, environmentally and democratically and Ingrid’s unique approach to helping the underserved communities by making diversity, equity and inclusion non-negotiable and part of every day – from the third world to the boardroom.
We Are For Good Podcast – The Podcast for Nonprofits
57. A Woman’s Quest to Bring Inclusivity to the Boardroom and Third World Alike – Ingrid Gonzalez
Ingrid Gonzalez, Positive Planet US, We Are For Good Podcast

Join Our First Family and Friends Holiday Fundraising Event

The Positive Planet US family would like to invite you to our first virtual fundraiser:

Date: Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Time: 12:00PM Eastern (6:00PM Paris)

We have an amazing program lined up with speakers, videos, and volunteer experiences to dazzle your Thursday afternoon (or evening!)

Reserve your spot for the holiday fundraising event to hear from our marvelous speakers, and learn more about Positive Planet’s mission to alleviate poverty through positive entrepreneurship. We look forward to seeing you there!


During this 1-hour virtual fundraiser, you will connect with the President of Positive Planet, Jacques Attali, hear stories from our accomplished beneficiaries and learn more about our social inclusion initiatives to help the underprivileged become entrepreneurs and generate an income for themselves in the US and globally.

Meet Our Board Members:

Jacques Attali -President and Chairman of Positive Planet

Ingrid Gonzalez – President and Chairwoman of Positive Planet US

Lyes Bouabdallah – CEO, Positive Planet International

Philippe Galtié – Executive Vice President of Global Sales of Tiffany & Co, New York

Diana Agu – Director, Strategic Head Marketing, Communications & People, Global FS, Insights & Data at Capgemini

Patrick Cogny – SVP and Business Leader, High-Tech, Manufacturing and Services, at GENPACT

Allegra Kowalewski-Ferreira – Investing Manager at IMPACT

Catherine Roggero-Lovisi – Executive Board Member, Positive Planet US

Michael Dubin – Managing Partner at Dorset Management LLC

Make A Donation

Donate now to our local and global social inclusion initiatives and help alleviate poverty through positive entrepreneurship. Your donations will directly help our beneficiaries.

Checkout with the project you wish to support and visit our PayPal Giving Fund to donate (fee-free)! In addition, you may send checks made out to: “PlaNet Finance Corp.” 23-10 30th Drive, 3A, Queens, NY 11102.

Make your secure, tax-deductible donation and help the underprivileged in becoming entrepreneurs and generating an income for themselves in the US and globally.

Donate Now