YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A new free program from the YWCA Mahoning Valley aims to put women entrepreneurs on the path to starting a successful business.
The Spring 2021 Women’s Empowerment 360 ° Business Essential Program, or We360 °, is a six-week, self-paced online program designed to increase participants’ knowledge and confidence as an entrepreneur. It is offered in partnership with Ureeka, an online platform that provides educational resources and tools for entrepreneurs.
We360 ° is for women, especially women of color, who are starting their own businesses, says Jessica Gibbs, YWCA program manager. During the program, participants will learn about business planning, creating business value, setting business goals, mapping their journey in the business, and how to gain competitive advantage, Gibbs explains.
“Within the program, we are planning to have several speakers and we will also be having a pitch competition,” Gibbs said. There will also be networking and mentoring opportunities.
YWCA is looking to reach at least 40 entrepreneurs with the program – 20 with this initial spring cohort and another 20 with a fall cohort, Gibbs says. At the end of the six weeks, participants will have a business plan and can start building their business, she says.
A virtual kickoff is scheduled for March 18 at 3 p.m. Those interested in participating can email Gibbs at [email protected]
The program aligns with the YWCA’s overall goal of empowering women and eliminating racism, said Varada Bhide, chief operating officer. Part of this is looking for ways to improve the financial and economic situation of women.
While many of the women served by the YWCA have ideas or hobbies on their side that could be turned into businesses, “they have barriers that can keep them from taking the plunge,” she says. An obstacle is limited to “what is happening around us”.
But the Ureeka platform connects residents with business representatives across the United States. Bhide hopes the program will encourage women to “take a leap of faith” to start their own businesses, she said.
“I think this will be a great exhibition to see where they could be in a few years if they use the resources at their disposal,” Bhide said. “The ultimate goal of everything the YWCA does is to empower women to be successful in their personal and professional lives. “
There are monetary incentives to complete the program, as well as cash prizes of $ 500, $ 250, and $ 100 for the pitch competition, she notes. The program is funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation, she said.
And because the program is virtual, it’s something women can do at home while still benefiting from education and mentoring opportunities through Ureeka, Gibbs notes. Gibbs will also go over the program with the participants.
“I’ll be there to help them with all their questions and to learn more about businesses in our community,” she said.