Last week, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Goldman Sachs Group held a joint press conference to announce two exciting developments for women entrepreneurs in Atlanta. First, Atlanta is launching the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI), a business incubator for women. Secondly, the Goldman Sachs Group is awarding $3 million through its 10,000 Small Businesses program to Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, a Georgia-based nonprofit group.
Both announcements have the potential to stimulate tremendous growth in the metro Atlanta area, illustrating the power of entrepreneurship and government partnerships. “It’s exciting to be part of a community where both the city leadership and business folks are all so supportive of creating an entrepreneurial environment and taking seriously the one entrepreneur at a time approach that it really takes for job creation,” said David Fox of the Atlanta office of Goldman Sachs.
About the Incubator
The city and the business community have pulled together to create this opportunity. The WEI incubator will be located in the historic Flatiron building in downtown Atlanta. Arun Nijhawan, a businessman with Lucror Resources, purchased the building last year with the goal of turning it into a collaborative place for “makers, thinkers and doers.”
Women selected to participate will be able to take advantage of the free office space for 15 months. WEI hopes to provide an atmosphere where a network of seasoned mentors, consultants, entrepreneurs and some of Atlanta’s prominent female executives can come together to help “incubate” these businesses. At the end of the 15 months, the women-owned companies will be prepared to transition into the Atlanta business community. Other resources available at the WEI include assistance with business plans, marketing and branding, strategic development, financial education, legal advice, funding opportunities and creating growth and progress metrics. In addition to being an incubator for existing business owners, the WEI will serve as a community outreach program, providing educational workshops and mentorship opportunities to emerging entrepreneurs.
Who Can Apply?
Only 15 women will be selected through a competitive process. Candidates must be a woman business owner that resides or is licensed to do business in Atlanta. Additionally, the business must have been in operation for at least two years, have a total profit of at least $30,000 and employ one to five persons. After applications have been submitted, applicants will participate in a pitch competition before the selection panel.