Only 39% of U.S. businesses have women majority ownership according to American Express OPEN, “The 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.” Increased access to female mentors, resources, and role models can cultivate entrepreneurial success for a women-owned business. As a women’s training organization, JLNO’s diverse, professional membership is uniquely positioned to guide women wishing to scale their endeavors.
Started in January 2016, JLNO’s Woman Entrepreneur (WE) Fellowship is a yearlong program supporting a female business owner with funding as well as mentoring and in-kind services sourced through JLNO’s membership. Women with at least a 50% stake in an enterprise that has been in operation between one to five years and making less than $750,000 are eligible to apply.
The WE Fellowship Committee reviews the submissions and selects up to six finalists. Each meets with a growth consulting firm to craft a 10-minute pitch. A judging panel selects the Fellow, and JLNO members develop a plan to secure in-League mentors and resources. Our WE Fellows have scaled their businesses, increasing staff, revenue, and industry recognition, and 13 finalists have gained knowledge, connections, and exposure through the pitch process.
The WE Fellowship goes beyond giving financial support to a small business. It aligns with the Junior League mission tenet to “develop the potential of women” by offering mentoring, training, and support. The program is innovative, specific, and impactful. Most importantly, WE Fellowship emphasizes the unique capacity women have for creative endeavors and perseverance, providing examples to which women and girls can aspire.
2019 Finalists & Winner
Congratulations to JLNO’s fourth Woman Entrepreneur Fellow – Lauren Myerscough of Cocktail & Sons! Chelsey Tharp of Girls Gone Buff received the audience award, and all of our finalists made wonderful pitches at the 2019 New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. We are so inspired by the creativity and determination of these female business owners, and we can’t wait to see what they do next!
The following were the finalists vying for JLNO’s fourth WE Fellowship:
- Cocktail & Sons is a line of all natural, handcrafted syrups for the home and commercial bar. Made by bartenders using Louisiana sugarcane and produce, they make complex syrups for simple drinks.
- FAIT | NOLA is a plant design studio with New Orleans’ first mobile plant store and design studio. They believe in helping people connect with nature using plants as a creative medium.
- Girls Gone Buff is a performance-based bootcamp that is aimed at teaching proper functional movement patterns, building strength, and improving cardiovascular endurance. Their goal is to lead the community to a lifestyle of health and wellness and empower all women to become strong and independent.
- Southern Swings Nail Bar and Spa is the most unique and relaxing nail salon in the world with porch swings for pedicure chairs and outdoor pedicures.
- Visionary Entertainment Media Group (VEMG) is a multifaceted marketing company that utilizes the power of social interactions to execute non-traditional marketing campaigns that drive sales, increase brand awareness, and create long-term buzz.
- The business-owner should be a woman who is
- The majority stakeholder in the enterprise or 50/50 with a spouse/partner and functions as its daily manager
- Aged 21 years and older
- A legal resident of the United States
- The business can be in any industry and should
- Have been formed under U.S. law and is currently operating within 40 miles of New Orleans, Louisiana
- Have between 1 year minimum and 5 year maximum of continuous operations
- Be generating annual revenues of less than $750,000
- The following are not eligible:
- Nonprofit organizations
- Subsidiary or franchise businesses
The WE Fellow should represent the same personal and professional commitments as the Junior League, namely it embraces diversity and reaches out to all women who demonstrate an interest in improving their community.
Application Process & Timeline
The WE Fellow is selected via a multi-step process as indicated below.
Step 1 – Complete the WE Fellowship application.
If interested, female business owners must submit an application by a date to be set for Fall 2020. Submitting an application is free, and applicants need not be JLNO members.
The application period for the 2019 WE Fellow is closed. We will reopen applications for the next group of candidates in the Summer of 2020.
Step 2 – Prepare for Pitches
The WE Fellowship Selection Committee will review the submitted applications and select women-owned businesses to give 10-minute presentations at an event during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Prior to the event, each finalist will meet with an expert who will help her craft her presentation.
Step 3 – Present during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.
Each finalist will pitch her enterprise for an audience and judging panel. Votes from the public will award an audience prize, and a judging panel will award the fellowship.
- Mentoring and support services from Junior League of New Orleans Members
- Grant in the amount of $7500
- Access to meeting space in Uptown New Orleans (not to be used as retail space; a value of $350)
- Tuition to JLNO’s Get on Board nonprofit board training program (a $250 value)
- Feature in Lagniappe, JLNO’s quarterly magazine to 5000 readers
- Opportunities to market to JLNO members (a $175 value to have a table at a meeting marketplace)
- One year of membership dues (a $220 value) should the WE Fellow meet eligibility criteria and elects to join JLNO; meeting the membership curriculum and subsequent membership renewals would be the fellow’s responsibility.