Meet Ayris Scales, the CEO of Walker’s Legacy Foundation, formed in 2009 in honor of the late Madame C.J. Walker, the first self-made woman millionaire in America. As part of continuing Walker’s Legacy Foundation, the foundation is committed to aiding the next generation of minority women entrepreneurs.
As part of Walker’s Legacy Foundation mission, the foundation has launched the Women Who Enterprise accelerator program. The three-month-long business training program is based around a structured curriculum that includes in-person cohort models and expert lecturers that aim to mentor existing businesswomen of color in their pursuit of advancing their business operations and access to funding.
“Our Women Who Enterprise business accelerator is suited for women from diverse industries and that’s one of the amazing things about it,” Scales said.
“The women are centralized based on where they are in their entrepreneurial journey and what they hope to accomplish by way of business fundamentals such as pitching, accessing capital, business plan development and mental wellness vs. what services and products they sell specifically.”
Women Who Enterprise is now available in Washington, D.C., Rochester, NY and Birmingham, AL. The inaugural accelerator program will begin November 6, 2021, and be conducted virtually due to the pandemic.
The curriculum within the program has been updated based on key findings from the COVID-19 Impact Report Walker’s Legacy Foundation conducted in partnership with the Gates Foundation. With a central focus on what Black women business owners actually need in real-time, the accelerator program will focus on key findings such as health and wellness, Emergency Preparedness Plan, and securing funding.
“We are on an aggressive journey to ensure 10,000 Black women are capital ready by 2025,” Scales said. “Our future plans include scaling Women Who Enterprise into 8 additional cities by spring of 2022, and adding additional tracks and tiers to our business development strategy, such as our keystone program PROSPECTUS.”
“Using the feedback from our COVID 19 impact study, our business accelerators will include components that respond directly to concerns and needs of women of color business leaders,” she continued. “We will also have some customized industry specific programming, starting with STEM that we’ll be launching in March of 2022.”
Minority women professionals and entrepreneurs interested in participating in the Women Who Enterprise accelerator program can visit https://www.walkerslegacy.org/accelerators