By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,
The Women Entrepreneur Leadership Lab (WELL), in collaboration with Color Vision, will hold Power Plays: A Small Business Summit for Innovative Women at the Rita Rossi Colwell Center in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on June 10.
The one-day, mini conference will assemble established and aspiring women business owners to network, discuss growing and scaling their businesses, find mentorship and engage in expert panel discussions and interactive workshops.
The day will also include a happy hour and a pitch competition, in which one woman entrepreneur will win a $1,500 grant.
“We believe that our greatest inspiration, creativity and aha-moments and ideas come from a place of joy and a place of play,” said Nakeia Drummond, founder of The WELL. “Being in business can be really serious and really hard, and we want to make sure that we are incorporating aspects of levity and lightness to our growth and ability to innovate.”
The WELL was established in 2018 to create a membership network for Black women entrepreneurs. Its work centers on five pillars: community, collaboration, confidence, capital and celebration.
The organization provides micro grants to Black women business owners, connects them with lenders and imparts education and resources surrounding capacity-building and business development.
The WELL takes membership applications on a rolling basis, and in July, it will accept a new group of entrepreneurs who have owned their business for at least a year and generate a minimum of $25,000 in annual revenue.
Budding Black women entrepreneurs also have the opportunity to enroll in The WELL’s Early Entrepreneur Growth Program, a six-month virtual business accelerator.
“It’s really important that we have each other because we are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. You don’t have to have that feeling of isolation in business because there’s so many of us out there, it’s just a matter of lifting our heads up to connect with one another,” said Drummond.
“We don’t get the capital that other entrepreneurs get, and we don’t have the mentorship from generations before us who have owned businesses. It’s important that we connect with each other so that we can tap into one another’s network to expand the network that we have individually.”
The Power Plays panel discussions will cover a range of topics, like building a brand community, operational efficiency, pitching a business idea and acquiring the right kind of capital.
Delshan Baker, CEO and founder of Endeavor TBD, will serve as one of the panelists for the Leading With Operational Excellence panel at the summit. Her company, which was established in 2020, provides business operations solutions, including short-term staffing services, technical assistance, technology integration and project management training.
Baker joined The WELL in 2021 to seek feedback from other Black women entrepreneurs on what her core business should be.
“The WELL was a place where I knew I could sort that out. It was a safe, vibrant and information-full space where other Black women business owners were thinking about their businesses just like me,” said Baker.
She advised other women entrepreneurs to stay focused on executing one business idea at a time rather than trying to juggle multiple projects simultaneously.
“My hopes are that people will leave inspired and jazzed up about what they can do to meet their own visions, as well as equipped with a concrete connection or two, a solid resource or essential information that could accelerate their business visions,” said Baker.
Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.