In 2016, SiOP developed its Women of Color Business Incubator (WOC Biz Incubator), a year-long program to strengthen the innovation, growth, productivity and management capacity of 30 entrepreneurs living in asset poverty who identify as women of color, inclusive of trans and cisgender and gender noncomforming folks. Within this program, SiOP’s transformative leadership development model supports members to heal from internalized, institutional and generational (family and community) oppression and trauma in a safe space; and bring forth their most powerful self in action to launch a thriving entrepreneurial venture.
Why is SiOP doing this work?
During the past three years, SiOP has offered training and mentorship support to its members through national transformative leadership retreats, regional gatherings, workshops, webinars and coaching. While programs initially focused on women of color leading in nonprofits, we assessed that at least one third of participants were interested in exploring entrepreneurship as a viable career pathway. The unintended consequences of SiOP’s leadership process resulted in women of color transitioning from working full-time to launching 10 new businesses and strengthening an additional 20 small businesses.
Last year, an intergenerational working group began exploring how to more formally support women of color and gender nonconforming aspiring entrepreneurs. SiOP’s Women of Color Biz Incubator is in direct response to the group’s recommendation to expand the model and launch an incubator where women of color and gender nonconforming aspiring and active entrepreneurs can access support year-round. The strategy is to create a dynamic network for women of color and gender nonconforming leaders to share and use business development resources towards sustainable entrepreneurship with a mixed revenue model and increased access to top-notch business coaches and impact investors.
What results do we expect?
The SiOP model of transformative leadership development is beneficial to members, based on the model’s “three pillars of sustainability:”
- People (self-care): capacity to heal from stress and trauma and lead in ways that fosters personal mental, emotional, spiritual and cultural liberation;
- Planet (community care): greater effectiveness in serving and benefiting disadvantaged communities through cooperation across entrepreneurial ventures;
- Profit/results (business care): operating within a sustainable nonprofit or for profit business model which results in greater investment both in women of color and gender nonconforming entrepreneurs and in the disadvantaged communities in which they live and serve.
Women of Color Biz Incubator graduates will have developed a small business; established a library of knowledge and peer-support network; launched a website and social marketing platform; and increased their access to business mentors and operating capital.
Based on a 2016 survey conducted during February of this year, member testimonials about SiOP’s impact on entrepreneurial transformation include:
- I am mapping out my vision and creating my goals.
- I have decided to take the plunge and dedicate 70% of my time toward growing my art + consulting business, Fresh to Def Collective as a result of the support and insight from SiOP’s TLI (Transformative Leadership Institute).
- I am using my power as a birth-worker to establish income as a doula in addition to my organizational commitments.
- My entrepreneurial endeavors have morphed into a full fledged plan to become an inspirational speaker and author in the very near future.
How can you get actively involved?
Initially, the program will serve low-income and very-low income trans and cisgender women of color across and gender nonconforming people of color residing in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles and Oakland, CA. Participants will be trained via a leadership retreat, webinars, coaching/mentoring, pitch events to access investors and post-pitch development and launch.
If you are interested in launching or expanding your business, and/or servicing our community as a funder, coach, mentor, investor, marketer, etc., please contact Yaro Fong-Olivares at yaromilf(at)gmail(dot)com or Diana Marie Lee at dml(at)sweetlivity(dot)com.