ProWIN March Luncheon: Access Granted: No Man’s Land – Lessons Learned on the Path to Creating Atlanta’s First Community Space for Women Entrepreneurs

What a great way to celebrate the official first day of Spring and National Women’s History Month!  We had the pleasure of hearing from Theia Smith, The Founding Executive Director for WEI Atlanta.  WEI (The Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative) is the first incubator for women entrepreneurs in the US and it is located in the City of Atlanta.  The closest location for a similar model is in Pakistan!  Theia, a Spelman graduate, delivered a very invigorating and motivating discussion around Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Women initiative which will invest $1 Billion in women entrepreneurs in emerging markets.  Atlanta was identified as one of those key markets.  These investments are being made in women entrepreneurs since they lead directly to economic growth and stronger communities.

Some of the interesting facts Theia shared with ProWIN include:

  • There were $430K women-owned businesses in 1970 and that number grew to $12.3 million in 2018.
  • Only 2.2% of women received equity investments that exceeded $1 million.
  • The WEI program selects 15 entrepreneurs a year.
  • The 2018 WEI class earned about $597K in revenues in 2016 and grew that by 47% to exceed $3 million in 2018.
  • The class of 2018 spans across 7 different industries.

The WEI program philosophies are powerful:

  • If you are going to fail, fail fast and fail for free.
  • Being the first is only worth celebrating if you ensure you won’t be the last.
  • Pivot often.
  • Verbalize what you intend to do so it has a better chance of happening.
  • Space and place matters.
  • Invest talent and time where it matters most.
  • Fear is a door you walk through. Not a house you live in.
  • If service is beneath you than success is above you.

These are all certainly powerful words to live by!

~Synopsis compiled by Jennifer Finkelstein Hall, Match Key Consulting


Be sure to join us for our next luncheon in May. Kelly J. Beard will talk about Crafting Your Unique Patch. Non-members are welcome – it is a wonderful way to learn about all the benefits of ProWIN.
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