ATLANTA – Mayor Reed announced the 15 women entrepreneurs who will comprise the inaugural class of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI). The group of women, selected through a rigorous competitive process in the fall of 2015, will have the opportunity to operate their small businesses in an incubator environment, with designated workspace, for 15 months. The announcement was made during the mayor’s State of the City Address.
“Announcing the 15 women selected for the inaugural WEI class is an important step forward in strengthening our city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Mayor Reed. “This initiative will assist women who aspire to entrepreneurial excellence by providing them with the resources they need to grow a successful business. With the help of Microsoft and other partners, these women entrepreneurs will receive mentorship, business coaching and access to technology and office space at no cost to them.”
WEI will provide:
- A designated workspace in a technologically-advanced environment, designed to foster business growth and sustainability;
- A community designed to support engagement, interaction and collaboration with fellow women entrepreneurs in a supportive environment;
- A network of expert, seasoned mentors and consultants from the business and entrepreneurship communities serving in an advisory board capacity;
- Technology resources via the Microsoft partnership to amplify the businesses’ traction and global reach;
- Measurable business growth and progress metrics to identify, track and harness success; and
- Post-incubation support to reinforce business longevity and success once back in the community.
The initiative serves to empower emerging entrepreneurs with access to the critical assets, capital and resources necessary to launch, grow and sustain their businesses. A diverse group of women entrepreneurs, embodying the City’s unique diversity of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic factors, were selected for the 2016-2017 incubator class. Thirty-five high-potential women were selected from among 83 completed written applications, to advance to the “pitch round” of the competition, in which they presented their business models to be considered to participate in the WEI incubator.
The businesses are all for-profit, and represent the following industries and number of corresponding businesses:
- Information and Communication Technology – 4
- Product-based Retail – 3
- Digital Media and Marketing – 2
- Education and Training – 2
- Beauty and Healthcare – 2
- Transportation technology – 1
- Food and Beverage Service – 1
The 15 women-owned businesses are: Lynn Lilly, CraftBox Girls; Melanie Rhodes, MelanCo. Enterprises/DSS Experts; Samantha Hodgkins, SparkFire Active LLC,; Joanna Douglas, Parketing; Dawn Belisle, Delights by Dawn; Jeannell Darden, Cococurls; Jennifer Bluemling, Borrowed By Design; Sherry Popovic, cME compete; Cicely Gay, Amplifiers Inc.; Logan Williams, Rapid Parking Solutions; Adrienne Brown, Adrienne J. Media; Tiffany Ray, Generation Infocus, Monica Hooks, m-oracle; Sheila Woodhouse, DoxMed; and Tonya Hicks, Women Do Everything.
WEI will be housed on the 11th floor of the downtown Atlanta’s iconic Flatiron Building – the city’s oldest standing skyscraper. The 40,000 square foot landmark is undergoing a transformative journey, to intersect its historical character with cutting-edge innovation and design. This unique collaborative space will serve as a technologically-advanced backdrop to Atlanta’s emerging and existing entrepreneurs, seeking to foster their business growth in a space that is engaging, energetic and supportive of bold ideas. The space is currently under construction.
The WEI incubator lasts for 15 months, and is cyclical. Applications for the next class of entrepreneurs will be available in early 2017.
For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visithttps://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @CityofAtlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter@Kasim Reed