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Walker’s Legacy to Research Fastest-Growing Segment of Entrepreneurs: Black Women

Natalie-Madeira-Cofield[1]Walker’s Legacy, a business collective for women of color, has been contracted to research the challenges and opportunities for women of color in business by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the National Women’s Business Council.

Panels and research conducted by business experts will take place in Washington, D.C. and New York City. Both metropolises have high rates of black female entrepreneurship. The goal is to gain greater insight from qualitative research on black women-owned businesses, one of the fastest growing segments of entrepreneurs.

“One of the most remarkable entrepreneurial trends in recent years is the phenomenal growth among black women. The number of firms skyrocketed by 178% from 2002 to 2012. And employment and receipts are increasing too, but not nearly at the same rate. There’s a lot more to this story, and we’re excited to explore these important questions,” said Amanda Brown, executive director, National Women’s Business Council.

In addition to the research and panel work, Walker’s Legacy will also hold a series of Women in Leadership programs across the country during March to celebrate women of color in business. Some of the programs include women’s leadership power brunches in cities such as Houston, New Orleans, and Orlando, and roundtable discussions in various cities.

The organization is also launching two international programs—one in Johannesburg, South Africa and the other in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 8th in honor of International Women’s History Month.

“For more than five years Walker’s Legacy has worked to advance the agenda and opportunities of women of color in business from the White House to local communities. As an organization we recognize the broad spectrum of needs that entrepreneurs and professional business women have from visibility, to access to networks, to access to opportunities, to access to capital and we have designed our organization to build local and global ecosystems to increase supports and success of women of color in business,” said Natalie Madeira Cofield, founder and CEO, Walker’s Legacy.

“Walker’s Legacy is designed to make celebrity of professional and enterprising women of color in business by highlighting their stories and celebrating their unique achievements.”

Walker’s Legacy has a network of more than 13,000 women and represents more than 20 cities throughout the nation.

Black Enterprise

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5 Essential Tips For Struggling Entrepreneurs

Dr. Willie Jolley

When the Ford Motor Company was facing financial difficulties around the time of the Great Recession, Willie Jolley, Ph.D. was one of the men the automaker called on to avoid a financial bailout and turn the company around.

He worked with Ford for three years and, in 2009, Ford went on to billion-dollar profits.

Jolley speaks globally with corporations such as Walmart, Verizon, Coca-Cola, and Prudential. He is also the host of the top-rated motivational show on Sirius XM, The Willie Jolley Wealthy Ways Show. He is known on the motivational speaker circuit as ‘American’s Comeback King.’ For many small business owners and entrepreneurs who might be struggling to find their way, Jolley, author of Turn Setbacks into Greenbacks, offers the following five tips.

  1. Stop commiserating: People who sit around and commiserate are the people who would rather complain about problems than do anything to fix them. We can complain about the dark or we can light a candle. Business is tough and doing it on your own is hard work.  No matter where you are though, commiserating isn’t going to help.
  2. Don’t let your pride poison your prosperity: Some people feel that some work is beneath them, and that it would bring a stigma to them if people knew they were doing supposedly ‘demeaning’ work. Yet they are struggling to pay their bills. Stop trying to put up a facade of success and get real. The fact that you are taking a shot at the American dream and entrepreneurship is commendable and honorable.
  3. Stretch your financial goals this year: If you’re thinking small, you’re never going to make it. Start thinking about success in an uncommon way. Start thinking about making it big. Start dreaming about your bank account full of greenbacks.
  4. Keep trying: When faced with a challenging time in business, people will say, ‘I’ve tried everything.’ When I ask them if they have tried this or that, typically they will say, ‘No, I never thought about that.’ Grab a pen and paper and list all the things you can come up with. After you have exhausted your own thinking, ask other people in your network.  Trust me, you haven’t thought of everything.
  5. Speak positivity into your business: Even when things have hit a rough spot or business is slow, you must speak positivity into your business and your life. For instance, never say, ‘I am desperate for work and I’m never going to make it.’ Instead, say, ‘I am an expert and very good at what I do. I do occasionally have some challenges, but so does everyone, and they are always temporary.’ What you speak is what you attract.

Black Enterprise

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Your Leap Year Financial Check List

A leap year is a year that has an extra day in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the seasonal year or astronomical calendar.

[Related: Part 1: How to Make Financial Resolutions Stick]

Black Enterprise Senior Editor of Personal Finance, Stacey Tisdale, shares tips on CNBC’s ‘On the Money,’ on how to use the extra day to make sure that your financial and career goals are in sync, and how a ‘4-year look back,’ can reveal  the moves you should make in the future.

[Below: Watch Video]

Black Enterprise

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How I Did It: Tamra L. Dicus, Chemical Engineer

(Image: Courtesy of NACME)

The profile below was originally published on the website of NACME, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, which provides scholarships to engineering students of color. It is reprinted here with permission.

Through partnerships with like-minded entities, NACME works to increase the proportion of African American, American Indian, and Latino young women and men in STEM careers. 

For Engineers Week (Feb. 21 – Feb. 27), we are profiling African American engineers.

Tamra L. Dicus

TITLE: Chemical Engineering Patent Examiner, United States Patent and Trademark Office

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science, Tuskegee University, Chemical Engineering

EXPERIENCE: As a Chemical Engineering Patent Examiner, Tamra Dicus protects the interests and rights of the public and assists applicants in their pursuit of securing patents on their dreams.

“I have always loved chemistry and have had a natural curiosity about substances,” says Dicus. “I didn’t always desire to be an engineer simply because I didn’t know enough about the profession. I felt that I had the aptitude to excel but I needed to learn more about the field of engineering. As such, I can say that it REALLY pays to talk to your peers, teachers, and professors, and seek the advice of others with experience in the area that you are considering. “

“The NACME Scholarship meant everything to me! Simply put, I wouldn’t have been able to attend Tuskegee University without the funding that I received from this scholarship. I am sincerely grateful for what NACME has meant to me and my professional life. The NACME Scholarship was the single most important factor for me being able to attend the college of my choice.”

As for Tamra’s advice to students, “Stay focused on your studies freshman year. By establishing a work ethic and emphasis on academic excellence, I was able to attain a cumulative GPA of 3.2/4.0 my freshman year, which set the tone for my remaining years at Tuskegee.”

“In closing, I am reminded of the quote from George Washington Carver, the esteemed former professor of Tuskegee Institute, ‘There is no shortcut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation.’ These words guided me while at Tuskegee and still serve as my lamppost in my career and life.”


Black Enterprise

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Engineering Call Fails to Reach African Americans

african american engineer in blue hard hat and holding blueprints

Image: File

This article was written by Eric Iverson. Originally published on the Start Engineering website, it is reprinted here with permission.

There is no getting around it.

Engineering has a tough time with African Americans. The workplace culture can be unwelcoming. The trend lines in graduation rates point down. And the “achievement gap” among demographic groups in K-12 is large.  During Black History Month, it’s an opportune moment to consider some of these issues and highlight what people in the field are doing to remedy them. From the time of Elijah McCoy —whose highly effective train oil has been said to lie behind the phrase, “the real McCoy”—to today, African-American contributions to the history and successes of engineering and technology fields have been legion and unique. The history An interesting new book puts the topic of African Americans in engineering into a useful historical context. Edited by all-time engineering luminary John Slaughter, Changing the Face of Engineering: The African-American Experience gathers 15 essays in a comprehensive history of African Americans working in the field. It argues that their continued underrepresentation in the field puts the country at a disadvantage on varied fronts. Slaughter, the first African American NSF Director and the one to establish an independent engineering directorate, gave a recent interview about the book to Inside Higher Ed. Many role models to choose from There is no shortage of African American role models who have registered great accomplishments in the field. Among them:

  • Guion Bluford and Mae Jemison, the first African American man (1983) and woman (1992) in space (and, in Jemison’s case, the first astronaut to appear in a guest role on Star Trek).
  • Mark Dean, pioneering computer engineer at IBM who holds three of the company’s original nine patents.
  • Ursula Burns, the first African American woman to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Xerox. 

Non-diversity in tech Even so, the paucity of African Americans in the tech sector has become a big story in the last 18 months or so. As some of the biggest employers of engineers, companies in the tech sector have come under pressure to address diversity problems as newly public data show alarmingly homogeneous workforces.

Degrees are down A challenge for any company looking to hire African American engineers does lie in supply issues. While earning 9.65% of all 2013 undergraduate degrees, African Americans earned only 3.99% of all engineering degrees. And this rate marks a drop from the 2009 rate of 4.39%, a period during which engineering overall increased from 4.36% to 4.72% of all undergraduate degrees. Recently released, the 2016 NSF S&E Indicators overflow with authoritative data. The data behind these figures come from the National Science Foundation, publishers of the Science and Engineering Indicators and Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering. Both reports offer a bounty of angles from which to analyze the demographics of engineering graduates and professionals, among many other related topics. By these measures and more, African Americans are clearly finding more compelling, accessible pathways in education than what engineering offers. Where they come from African American engineering grads come from all kinds of schools. For 2014, the schools that graduated the most were the following:

  1. North Carolina A&T State University, 163
  2. Georgia Tech, 96
  3. Morgan State University, 74
  4. University of Florida, 65
  5. Florida International University, 61

Of the 101 historically black colleges and universities, only 14 have engineering programs. Naturally, US News has ranked them. Within the cohort of African American engineering graduates, women in fact perform at a higher rate than their non-African American women peers in engineering. We took a long look at this phenomenon in an earlier blog post. Helpful measures People inside the engineering field have long grappled with the underrepresentation of African Americans. For decades, the National Society of Black Engineers has served as a vital hub of outreach, networking, recruiting, and publicity in support of African American engineers. The society has recently launched an ambitious program to increase the number of black engineering graduates to 10,000 by 2025, up from about 3,500 now. “Be 1 of 10,000” includes efforts such as outreach to 7th graders, an expansion of the society’s terrific Summer Engineering Experience for Kids, or SEEK Program, and efforts to build capacity in both K-12 and higher education institutions for African Americans to succeed in engineering pathways. Thousands of kids will participate in NSBE’s SEEK Program, which will run in up to 13 cities this summer and offer fun, educational engineering learning experiences. More recent efforts to promote African American engineering successes have proliferated. These include major tech companies like Dropbox and Pinterest hiring high-level diversity officers and organizations like CODE2040, a dynamic, fast-growing nonprofit working to promote opportunities in engineering and technology for both black and Latino students in the “innovation economy.” A strong theme in our own high school publication, Start Engineering: A Career Guidebook, addresses the importance of increasing diversity in the field. A difficult fix The formula for increasing the numbers of African American engineers has many elements. As a comprehensive report from the STEM business group, Change the Equation, says, “the biggest problem is scale.” Efforts have to reach, in a sustained fashion, such large numbers of students in so many different places that no one program will suffice. Understanding what kinds of changes will work in what kinds of environments has to spread widely enough for people in local environments to take the right kinds of actions with the resources available to them. Have you seen anything that’s worked to make engineering more accessible to African American students? Where do you think the key to the diversity challenges lie? Leave a comment below to share your experiences. And please share with any interested friends or colleagues. Eric Iverson is vice president for Leaning and Communications at Start Engineering. He writes and speaks widely on K-12 engineering education.

Black Enterprise