This past weekend, I met up with a Facebook friend of mine by the name of Tamera Hinton (Tamera Bulger). She recently held what would be the first Women Entrepreneurs of America meeting in Richmond, Virginia. This function was held at Mimi Café on West Broad Street, a restaurant I hear is good (however, we didn’t eat). A handful of women came to find out more about the organization, Women Entrepreneurs of America, Inc. and how they could possibly become apart of it.
Tamera explained her role in WEA and introduced us to the Yolanda Lamar-Wilder. She described her as, “Yolanda Lamar-Wilder, Founder and National President, founded WEA, Inc. in November 2002. Mrs. Lamar-Wilder extended an invitation to over 100 women in business and those who want to start their own businesses to come together and discuss social, economic and legislative issues in Greater Cleveland, Ohio and across the nation. After much evaluation and several months of thoughtful planning and documentation, Women Entrepreneurs Of America, Inc. was officially chartered in November 2002. Now a 501(c) (3) nonprofit, membership based women’s organization.”
They currently have several local chapters within the Midwest including, Detroit/Flint, Michigan, Indianapolis, Indiana, Miami/Tampa, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia, Philadelphia, PA., St. Louis, Mo., Chicago, IL., Houston, TX. and now the Founders hometown, Gary, Indiana. Yolanda was placed on speaker phone as we discussed the benefits of the organization and how women like us, all over Virginia, could utilize it to our advantage as well as be of assistance.
The conversation got in depth regarding the benefits of an organization like this, starting from the ground up. In order for it to be successful for Virginia, Tamera would have to enlist at least 10 women. Each of these women would have to agree to pay a membership fee of $65.00 annually, as well as contribute their skills and resources to assisting other women in the organization. The training and workshops would have to be conducted by the members themselves or outsourced from a professional of their choosing. WEA describes their mission as, “The mission of WEA, Inc. is to “empower and support” women, young girls and now men in business, expand and enhance the lives of its membership and the African-American community through quality programs, training, education, volunteerism, and leadership development. Our efforts are in providing resources to “women in transition” and a portion of our proceeds go to the WEA Women in Transitioning Fund for training, workshops and ex-offenders re-entry programs.”
After the luncheon, the huge questions were these:
Can Richmond and /or Virginia women collaborate in order to head start an organization of this caliber?
Were we prepared to forgo the initial benefits of being in the organization, in order to be one of the catalysts to help it grow?
Finally, are you willing to share your skills, knowledge, and resources with no immediate return, in order to see that this organization is successful?
In a time, where everyone with a degree or ambition wants to start their own dream career, people are literally scratching to get out there. We all discussed the rudeness, the frustration, and the negative experiences that come with being an entrepreneur and a woman. It’s not for the faint of heart and as one woman said during the meeting, “you have to have tough skin!” So with Tamera (a new resident of Virginia) trying to bring this organization to Richmond, courage is something to be applauded. Some women fear rejection and ridicule, failing to take their skills and business to the next level, but here is this mother and businesswoman attempting to unite us all, when she barely knows anyone here herself. A huge quality that will aid in the success of the organization is the ability to present connections and resources for those members needing it. If the members pay an annual fee, I’m almost certain they are going to want to see their business progress due in part to becoming a member in the first place. The first to join this project will have to be able to present substantial resources, connections, skills, and knowledge, so that those coming under them will benefit as well.
You could cut the skepticism in the room with a knife. I’m not sure if the resistance was from knowing there isn’t an immediate return on investment or perhaps the knowledge of other female-based organization in the area offering similar payback. Those organizations are already established and functioning in the state. It wasn’t the annually fee for sure, especially since Tamera and Yolanda were offering a special discounted membership fee of $50 (normally $65) and a gift bag to the ten founding members of the future Virginia Chapter of Women Entrepreneurs of America. By participating in the discount, you would officially become one of the founding members, dedicating your time and labors to ensuring that this chapter is of value to future members.
One woman at the luncheon was the apparent individual not awed, however I couldn’t determine which side of the fence the others stood on. I know for certain that Tamera is definitely persevering and motivated that she can spearhead a Virginia chapter of entrepreneurial woman, all seeking support in the evolution of their ventures. She stated that her idea was to bring women together, once attempting to start a Curly Girl meet-up group in the Richmond Area. However, like most people’s experiences, in Virginia you have to earn their trust, then you earn their support.
I look forward to hearing new developments about this organization, Women Entrepreneurs of America. I really hope to see something positive come from this, because it truly can be a benefit to female business owners in the state. I want to see more of us coming together and collaborating, without the cattiness, unnecessary miscommunications, and “diva” attitudes that seem to perpetuate the stereotype that we’re too much drama. It’s enough limelight and success for us all, and treating each other like the competition or enemy, isn’t going to get us anywhere closer to our goals. We’re all-special and come from unique and diverse backgrounds, instead of battling each other, we should learn from each other and produce better quality results. So many of us try to go against the grain in some fashion to be unique, when we should sometimes try to create an environment of things being smooth.
If you’re interested in joining Women Entrepreneurs of America or getting more information, connect with them at their website
Remember Tamera and Yolanda are offering a special discounted membership fee of $50 (normally $65) and a gift bag to the ten founding members of the future Virginia Chapter of Women Entrepreneurs of America, so time is of the essence. You can also contact the Member Committee Chair at (888-871-3566) for additional info. Payments online
through www.PayPal.com (Account: email@example.com)
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