October 25, 2016
Why the MWBC Loves October
It isn’t just the clean, crisp chill in the air that comes with the season. It isn’t just the beauty of the leaves and their oranges, yellows and umbers. It isn’t even only about the smell of a warm pumpkin spice latte wafting past your nose.
No, there is more to love about October than that!
As a program of REDI for over 5 years, the Maryland Women’s Business Center (MWBC) has always had the mission of providing the best training and counseling services to women entrepreneurs in our area. We assist more than 1,500 women per year, helping them explore, start and/or expand their women-owned enterprises and helping them get positioned for long-term growth in our community.
This October we celebrated our inaugural Awards Luncheon, highlighting the achievements of women entrepreneurs that are making a difference throughout Maryland. We also rounded out our yearlong 5th Anniversary Celebration, particularly pleased that October is also National Women’s Small Business Month. This gave the MWBC the opportunity to put a spotlight on our clients and the phenomenal things they are doing to uplift their communities and strengthen the economy. And more reasons to love October.
At our Awards Luncheon we awarded the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year to Kimberlee Driggs, President of D2, LLC. As the owner of a construction company in a male dominated industry, Kim has faced and faces challenges every day that her male counterparts do not, and continues to excel. Her company now works with some of the top national firms and she uses her influence to help other women in the construction industry.
Minority Woman Business of the Year was awarded to Cynuria Consulting, LLC. Founder and owner, Houri Tamizifar built up this consulting business from nothing, and is also very involved in working with the Boys and Girls Club of America and other organizations committed to the economically disadvantaged community.
The Woman Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year was awarded to Charlisa Watson, President of CRW & Associates, LLC. She not only runs this consulting firm specializing in customized health management, IT and education solutions, but is very involved in giving back to the veteran community.
It is women like these that this month celebrates. It is for women like these, and those who aspire to be like them, that the MWBC exists.
Over the past year we have been able to help women create 24 new businesses, support 99 new jobs, attain access to over $550 thousand in capital, and generate $2.3 million in gross revenue. But it’s not just about the numbers. It’s about the people.
The journey we are on to support women entrepreneurs is both rewarding and challenging, and we cannot do it without the support of our partners. None of the accomplishments we’ve achieved would be possible without the support of our staff, funders, volunteers, and resource partners – people. Partners like MWBC Corporate Partner of the Year, Reginald Exum and Citi Community Development; volunteers like Stephanie Lewis of The Entrepreneur’s Source, who was presented as MWBC Volunteer of the Year; resource partners that include REDI, the Maryland Dept. of Commerce, Montgomery County and the City of Rockville—that is what keeps our mission alive.
When we launched our five-year anniversary kick-off last year, I had a fundraising goal of $100,000 to be raised by this month. That goal was surpassed through new grants from the Coca-Cola Foundation, Walmart Foundation, Prince George’s County Council, and the City of Bowie.
However, our fundraising effort is an ongoing process. We need consistent monetary support to maintain operations, expand our geographic locations, and diversify our program offerings. There is so much more we want to do.
Remember when I said that our mission is about people? This is where you, and other business owners and workers in our community come in. Check out more information about what the MWBC is, what we offer, who we help and how YOU can join us on our journey to support women entrepreneurs at www.marylandwbc.org.
Happy Women’s Small Business Month and Happy Anniversary to the MWBC!
Seriously, we really LOVE October, but, even while we sip our fall themed coffee, we’re pretty excited for the rest of the year too.
–Kiesha Haughton, Managing Director, MWBC