By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer, Report for America Corps Member, firstname.lastname@example.org
The multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Women Elevating Women (WEW) conference, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase, returned to D.C. this past weekend to bring women business owners and executives together to discuss and share strategies for success and economic empowerment.
Launched in 2018, the conference cultivates a community of peer advisors to help more women grow their companies into million-dollar businesses.
“We know that barely 2 to 3 percent of all women have gross revenues of a million dollars, but if you break it out by ethnicity, we are a fraction of a fraction of a fraction,” said Betty Hines, founder and CEO and founder of W.E.W. “Having worked with multi-million and multi-billion-dollar companies for over 17 years, I wanted to take my skills and bring them to that underappreciated market of women and give them the tools that they needed to help them scale.”
Specifically, Hines wants to help women achieve what she defines as the five pillars of success: courage, communication, collaboration, connection and cultivation. The pillars encourage women to foster robust professional relationships and support systems, hone their business branding, take care of their mental and financial health and give back to others in their communities.
According to Hines, since the COVID-19 pandemic, many women-owned businesses have been forced to close because they did not have the capital to sustain themselves. However, she thinks the biggest challenge facing women entrepreneurs is not just access to capital but also having the financial understanding of what is available to them in terms of financing their businesses.
The theme for this year’s conference was Collaborative Pathways, emphasizing the importance of women business owners sharing their resources to help each other advance faster and further.
Attendance was capped to less than 100 women, so each person had the time to create meaningful, long-lasting connections with their fellow entrepreneurs and executives, as well as discuss their needs to grow and scale their businesses.
Carolyn Howell, CEO of the corporate event planning company, Events USA, attended the conference as a guest speaker, and she was also the emcee.
She wanted to help other women business owners avoid making the same mistakes she made while growing her company, and she reminded attendees about the importance of having a business plan, mission and vision, as well as the value of finding knowledgeable mentors.
“I wanted to draw other people’s attention to the value of an organization that provides a community of peer advisors, not to tell you what to do, but so that you can share goals, challenges, ideas, opportunities and strategies,” said Howell. “You need the tips, the tools, the techniques to be effective, and Women Elevating Women gives you all that and then some.”