Eight women were awarded mentoring, money, marketing and technology assistance at the Make Mine a $Million Business event in Boston to help them grow million dollar enterprises. Two Massachusetts-based women were among the winners with businesses in Bradford and Sudbury.
A panel of judges, women entrepreneurs, and an audience at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center selected the awardees based on elevator pitches designed to explain why their business plans had million-dollar potential. Boston was the host of the first 2007 Make Mine a $Million Business event. Five more events will be held throughout the United States this year.
The Make Mine a $Million Business program (www.makemineamillion.org) is the only national initiative of its kind committed to helping post-start-up women entrepreneurs who aspire to running million-dollar businesses. In Massachusetts alone, there are more than 200,000 women-owned firms of which only 5,400 exceed $1 million in revenues.*
Launched in 2005 by Count-Me-In for Women’s Economic Independence with founding partner OPEN from American Express®, the program has pledged to inspire one million women to declare their intent to build $1 million businesses by 2010. Currently, only 3% of the 10.4 million women-owned U.S. businesses generate $1 million in revenues annually. When one million women grow their businesses to $1 million nationwide, the economic impact on the state of Massachusetts will be substantial, contributing $17 billion in additional economic activity and creating almost 116,000 new jobs.*
“The Make Mine a $Million Business program supports local communities in New England and across the country by helping women to build successful enterprises in their own hometowns,” said Nell Merlino, founder and president of Count-Me-In. “The program helps women realize a deeper confidence and belief in themselves and their businesses.”
“OPEN firmly believes helping women-owned businesses break the million dollar mark isn’t just a great idea; it’s an idea whose time has come,” said Susan Sobbott, president of OPEN from American Express. “Make Mine a $Million Business helps women adopt a ‘million dollar mindset’ and focus on working ‘on the business’ rather than ‘in the business’, which is essential for growth.”
Since 2005, 71 women have been chosen from states across the nation to build million dollar enterprises, create jobs and strengthen the U.S. economy. Of the 71 awardees, 10 women have already crossed the million dollar threshold. The program has also succeeded in attracting partnerships from leading organizations such as AIG, FedEx, Intuit, Cisco, and QVC.
“The Make Mine a Million program gives sound practical advice and resources to women who are trying to build their financial future. We see that women business owners who are taking advantage of the program are displaying the spirit and determination needed to succeed,” said Ned Cloonan, vice president of international and corporate affairs, AIG. “From our experience all over the world, we know that women play a critical role in the economic decision-making process in their homes and in their communities. There is no difference in the United States, and the Make Mine a $Million Business is the kind of economic development program that gives women the necessary tools to secure their future, creating jobs and fostering prosperity within their communities.”
The following eight women were Boston awardees:
- Colleen Bonniol, of Seattle, WA, is president and principal designer of MODE Studios, Inc, a company specializing in the application of multimedia and lighting design.
- Zuni Corkerton, of Powell, OH, is president of RefCheck Information Services, Inc., the only human resource-based reference checking/background screening firm in the industry.
- Claire Evans, of Clermont, FL, is president of amaZulu, Inc., a natural architectural company dedicated to developing new innovations and sustaining higher service standards.
- Lori Laviolette, of Bradford, MA, is president of North Shore Athletic Club, a health club and fitness center featuring “ageless exercise” for its aging clients and other amenities.
- Pauline Lewis, of Alexandria, VA, is president of oovoo Design, an e-tailer of hand-embroidered handbags from Vietnam.
- Wendy Pease, of Sudbury, MA, is executive director and owner of Rapport International, LLC, specializing in professional translation and interpretation services.
- Alison Rhodes, of Wilton, CT, is founder of Peek-A-Boo BabyProofing, a company dedicated to providing products and services that ensure toddler safety.
- Ilene Segal, of New York, NY, is Founder and Creative Director of baby idesign, a chic, stationary design division created especially for babies.
Additionally, the Boston event was highlighted by a pilot micro-loan program designed to recognize entrepreneurs earlier in their development. Six women-owned businesses were acknowledged and awarding a $5,000 loan and coaching from Count-Me-In, targeted mentoring and training, networking opportunities, and access to sponsors.
The following six women were micro-loan awardees:
- Olga Baldos, of Plainview, NY, founded Jac’s Handy Meals/Spinach Sensations, a business that produces hand-held frozen spinach rolls.
- Barbara Brown, of Medford, MA, founded Integrity Woodworking, a custom cabinet and furniture maker.
- Sheila Murray, of Boston, MA, founded HealthConnections International, the only permanent/long term placement agency in the U.S. that specializes in placing allied health care professionals in jobs in other countries.
- Stacey Smith and Linda Shapiro, of St. James, NY, founded Moms-for-Profit, a business consulting agency that provides a wide range of advisory services.
- Julie Trelstad, of White Plains, NY, founded Plain White Press, a developer of information products, primarily by and for women, who want to simplify some aspect of their lives.
- Sandra Daniels, of Cincinnati, OH, founder of Embrace - a Sweets Company, a wholesaler of brownies, cakes, pies and cookies.
The next stops for the 2007 Make Mine a $Million Business program are Wisconsin on May 21st, Atlanta on June 2nd, Austin on October 4th, New York on October 23rd, and Burbank on November 14th.
Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is the leading national not-for-profit provider of on-line business loans and resources for women to grow their micro businesses into $million enterprises. Find us at www.countmein.org or call 212-245-1245.
About OPEN from American Express®
OPEN® is the American Express team dedicated exclusively to the success of small business owners and their companies. The OPEN Team supports business owners with unparalleled service. With tailored products and services, the team delivers purchasing power, flexibility, control and rewards to help customers run their business. Specifically, business owner customers can leverage an enhanced set of products, tools, services and savings, including charge and credit cards, convenient access to working capital, robust online account management capabilities and savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners. To obtain more information about OPEN, visit OPEN.com, or call 1-800-NOW-OPEN to apply for a card or loan. Terms and conditions apply.
American Express Company (www.americanexpress.com) is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850.
American International Group, Inc. (AIG), world leaders in insurance and financial services, is the leading international insurance organization with operations in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions. AIG companies serve commercial, institutional and individual customers through the most extensive worldwide property-casualty and life insurance networks of any insurer. For more information please visit www.aig.com.
* Data source: US Census Bureau. Economic Census, Survey of Business Owners: Women-Owned Firms, 2002. Published January 2006. (SB02-00CS-WMN). Prepared by Julie Weeks, President and CEO of Womenable, www.womenable.com.