The City of Atlanta today announced that the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI), the nation’s only city-funded incubator for women business owners, has opened the application process for choosing its next 15-person group of promising entrepreneurs.
Building on the success of its first class, WEI will accept applications through September 15 from woman entrepreneurs living and/or licensed to do business in Atlanta. The 15-month program – running January 2018 through March 2019 – fosters growth and sustainability through business education, financial literacy, access to mentors and consultants, and peer-to-peer networking.
“The Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative is unique in the country, and is an incredible asset for businesswomen in the City of Atlanta,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “With the support of mentors like Founding Director Theia Smith, access to technology and networking opportunities, this free program offers tremendous resources to women entrepreneurs to build their businesses. I congratulate the first class of WEI entrepreneurs on their success, and encourage every woman entrepreneur who meets the program criteria to apply.”
The vision for WEI was sparked by Mayor Reed during his first mayoral campaign. Launched in 2014, and advised by a seven-member advisory board chaired by Carol B. Tomé, chief financial officer of The Home Depot, WEI aims to align entrepreneurial opportunities for women in Atlanta with the City’s mission of elevating and strengthening its economic development efforts. Atlanta was recently ranked number 18 out of 50 in Dell’s 2017 Women Entrepreneur Index.
“WEI’s first class of businesses demonstrates that women entrepreneurs are fearless, pioneering and worth championing,” said Theia Smith, the founding executive director of WEI. “Their passion and accomplishments are laying the foundation for the next wave of entrepreneurs seeking to accelerate their businesses, with support from WEI.”
WEI participants are chosen by a selection committee in a competitive process, which evaluates applicants according to the following criteria:
- The 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;
- Valid, up-to-date business license must be on file with the City of Atlanta;
- Proof of profit generated by the business’s operations;
- Three or fewer people (including the founder) employed at the business;
- A business model favorable to being located in a collaborative, shared workspace environment;
- Submission of completed application, per its requirements; and
- Willingness to participate in in-person pitch interview(s) with the Selection Committee.
The 15 businesses selected will be housed in a unique workspace in downtown Atlanta’s iconic Flatiron Building, the city’s oldest standing skyscraper. For 15 months, their setting will be a technologically advanced incubator designed to invigorate them with resources, mentorship engagement and collaboration critical to growing their businesses, at no cost to them.
More than 100 applications were received for the first cohort of WEI, with 83 women entrepreneurs successfully completing the application process for consideration for the 15 available spaces. Learn more about WEI’s pioneers by visiting http://www.weiatlanta.com/meet-the-entrepreneurs/.
About Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative
Launched in May 2016, the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) operates as an incubator for women business owners designed to foster and promote interaction and engagement with their likeminded counterparts. WEI is the only city-funded initiative of its kind, in the nation.
For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @CityofAtlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter @Kasim Reed.