The City of Atlanta Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) today announced its 2018-19 cohort of 15 entrepreneurs. As the nation’s only city-funded incubator for women business owners, WEI provides an ecosystem of educational resources, access to funding assistance and mentorship to women business owners.
“I am proud of the results that have been achieved through our Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative. These inspirational women are helping foster economic growth in Atlanta, and are worthy of our admiration and support,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “With support from WEI, I am confident their journeys will continue to be successful and will serve as motivation for other aspiring women entrepreneurs to pursue their own dreams.”
With businesses ranging from innovative information technology solutions to niche retail products, the group of promising, Atlanta-based woman entrepreneurs will participate in WEI’s 15-month program, which is housed in a unique workspace in downtown Atlanta’s iconic Flatiron Building, the city’s oldest standing skyscraper. The WEI program is designed to foster their growth and sustainability through business education, financial literacy, access to mentors and consultants, and peer-to-peer networking.
“The 2018-19 class is filled with talented, ambitious and proven business leaders, each with a vision for success that WEI is proud to help empower,” said Founding Executive Director Theia Smith. “They represent the contribution women are bringing to the economic growth of Atlanta as innovators, problem solvers and job creators.”
Chosen from more than 100 applicants, the 2018-19 class – revealed at a reception last night at the Flatiron Building – is comprised of the following entrepreneurs:
- Terri-Nichelle Bradley of Brown Toy Box, which exposes and inspires minority children to enrichment activities and career opportunities;
- Jenn Graham of Civic Dinners, a civic engagement platform that uses technology to bring diverse voices to the table for conversations that matter;
- Margaret Lee of Designstyles for LivN, which provides design, build and management services in new construction and renovation for commercial and residential properties;
- Ellen Hunter of Impactive, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform enabling international non-profits to report on their projects and impact in the global poverty and humanitarian aid sectors;
- Stefanie Jewett of Activvely, a social-pairing mobile app that connects individuals with platonic recreational fitness buddies;
- Kelli F. Kelley of Kelley Brand Communications, a digital marketing firm focused on fully integrated communication strategies designed to connect, inspire and engage;
- Amber Lewter of Love Acumen, a relationship platform providing information and implementation strategies for working professionals seeking more successful personal and professional relationships;
- Justina Olatunde Davis of Omodé Play and Create, a technology platform that provides enrichment education to children, through activities such as language immersion, coding, music and martial arts;
- LaNiesha Butler of ScrapSports, a digital platform for sports scrapbooking, where memories are preserved, triumphs are celebrated, and unique experiences are shared;
- Shayla McNair of SHAY· LATTE COFFEE (SLC), a premium, nutrient-rich coffee beverage delivering a refreshingly exotic taste along with health benefits and sustained energy;
- Eva Jane Bunkley of The Makeup Bullet, a patented beauty tool targeting makeup artists that seeks to disrupt the traditional tools used for makeup application and cosmetics;
- Jamine Moton of The Skylar Firm, a private security company aimed at disrupting the security culture by changing how customers are engaged, procured, managed and represented by the officers they call on to protect them;
- Kara Brown of SmithBrown Marketing, which offers a wide range of marketing, sales and branding services for small- and medium-sized enterprises;
- Katie Culp of tulipcake EMBROIDERY, a garment-decorating resource that creates custom patches and clothing for the Southeast’s film industry; and
- Marilyn D. Jackson of Undergrid Networks (UGN), a technology engineering firm guiding businesses around the globe in developing solutions based on Blockchain, artificial intelligence, and data innovation.
An idea sparked by former Mayor Kasim Reed during his first mayoral campaign, WEI was launched to align entrepreneurial opportunities for women in Atlanta with the City’s mission of elevating and strengthening its economic development efforts. WEI’s inaugural class, which graduated from the program in September 2017, have benefitted from the incubator’s support and are helping bolster Atlanta’s economy. Nine have grown their businesses to be able to hire their first, or an additional employee. Six WEI entrepreneurs have collaborated with a fellow entrepreneur, to create a new business opportunity; and one has scaled her 2017 revenue beyond $1.1 million.
To qualify as a WEI participant, a business must be 100 percent woman-owned and the owner must reside in and/or be licensed to do business within the City of Atlanta; have a valid, up-to-date business license must on file with the City of Atlanta; show proof of profit generated by the business’s operations; employ three or fewer people (including the founder); and operate a business model favorable to a collaborative, shared workspace environment.