Our Time Is Now to Think Bigger and Reach Higher

By Cassandra Willard, President, NAWBO Orlando Chapter

Every once in a while, we all feel it: Things are coming together and falling into place for something very big to happen. For women business owners and women in general, that time feels a lot like now

As women business owners, we are starting and growing companies at a faster pace than ever. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, women now own approximately 20 percent (1,118,863) of all employer businesses (5,601,758) nationwide. Additionally, about one-quarter (289,326) of all women-owned employer firms are minority owned. These businesses owned by women generate $3.1 trillion—yes, trillion—in revenue says another report from Guidant Financial.

Women also have seats at more tables than ever, surrounded by more smart, passionate, caring women—whether it’s in a boardroom of executives or around a conference table with local, state or national public policy influencers or makers. A record number of women were elected in the last election and a record number attended NAWBO’s 2019 Advocacy Day to have their voices amplified and heard. Also, NAWBO has sharpened its focus, through a partnership with UCLA, on preparing women leaders for board service. After all, studies show that companies with women represented on their boards have better financial performance.

October is National Women’s Small Business month and you can see how our businesses impact the economy in a substantial way. Likewise, this is an exciting month for NAWBO Orlando. Our Board has been working on opportunities to help your business through our annual wellness event, upcoming business certification session and networking opportunities. It is important to connect with your local community to exceed those 2019 goals. (You can take a peek at our upcoming events here, including the NAWBO National Women’s Business Conference in Jacksonville.)

Truly, our time is not tomorrow, next week, or next year. It’s NOW -- to think bigger, reach higher, and make life- and business-transforming things happen. 


Community, Connection, and Opportunity at
The Future of Business in Orlando

On July 30, NAWBO Orlando hosted The Future of Business in Orlando, where business and government leaders presented the latest news on local opportunities impacting area businesses, and the new NAWBO Orlando board members were sworn in for the 2019-2020 year.

“The vision for the event was to gather a community to connect and discuss opportunities in our region,” said Cassandra Willard, Esq., President of NAWBO Orlando and the Founder of The Law Office of Cassandra Willard, PLLC. “The program offered equal parts information and inspiration as attendees learned more about the journeys of our speakers and heard about the possibilities for local business owners.”     

Brenda Carey, Seminole County Chairman, provides an insiders look at the potential for business in Orlando.

Brenda Carey, Seminole County Chairman, provides an insiders look at the potential for business in Orlando.

Speakers Sheena Fowler, Vice President of Innovation and Orlando Film Commissioner at the Orlando Economic Partnership; and Brenda Carey, Seminole County Chairman; each provided an insider’s look at the potential for businesses large and small in Orlando. A growing area, Orlando has a track record of attracting smart entrepreneurs and offering them a host of resources and support to grow. 

Florida House Representative Anna V. Eskamani (D-47) also swore in the 2019-2020 NAWBO Orlando board members. 

Cassandra Willard, Esq., is sworn in as the next NAWBO Orlando chapter president by Florida House Representative Anna V. Eskamani (D-47).

Cassandra Willard, Esq., is sworn in as the next NAWBO Orlando chapter president by Florida House Representative Anna V. Eskamani (D-47).

“I am humbled and honored to serve as President of this powerful organization,” said Willard. “Serving on this Board has allowed me to connect with our members, guests, local community leaders and the business community. My service on the Board has allowed me to co-chair our mentorship and advocacy programs as well as our pitch competition. Our Board has worked diligently to elevate our programs and expand our reach to best support our membership.  I look forward to what this year holds for our members, community partners, and the Orlando business community as a whole.”

Nawbo Orlando congratulates 2019 PropelHER Winners

Congratulations to our two winners of the 2019 PropelHER Pitch Competition: Kaycee Cope Jones of Apolla Performance Wear (Established Category) and Kimba M. Williams of Kushae by BK Naturals (Emerging Category). All of our six finalists had amazing presentations and business potential, but these two walked away with the top spots at the final competition luncheon held on Feb. 12 at Full Sail Live.

Kaycee Cope Jones of Apolla Performance Wear, winner in the Established category. Photo by Mary Kent.

Kaycee Cope Jones of Apolla Performance Wear, winner in the Established category. Photo by Mary Kent.

The NAWBO Orlando PropelHER Business Pitch Competition offers real-world opportunities to learn what’s required to successfully launch a new business or grow an established business. During the pitch competition process, all participants developed critical skills, such as evaluating opportunities, creating marketing plans, preparing financial statements, leading a team and pitching to investors. They had the opportunity to invest in their professional and personal growth through a dynamic, invaluable webinar series. And they networked with topic experts and fellow PropelHER competitors to unlock their full business potential.

Kimba M. Williams of Kushae by BK Naturals, winner in the Emerging category. Photo by Mary Kent.

Kimba M. Williams of Kushae by BK Naturals, winner in the Emerging category. Photo by Mary Kent.

“The 2018 competition was very insightful for me,” said Demetria Sloan, Founder & President of Vantage Point Coaching, LLC, past PropelHER pitch competition participant and 2019 PropelHER Co-Chair. “Just participating in the webinars helped me drill down in every aspect of my business and focus on what matters most.”

The PropelHER Business Pitch Competition is an annual signature event of NAWBO Orlando, so watch for details for next year’s competition and consider entering your business for the chance to win cash and in-kind prizes.

Special thanks to our 2019 event sponsors: Advent Health, Duke Energy, Full Sail University, Herzing University, Southwest, and Wells Fargo.

The six 2019 PropelHER Pitch Competition finalists (left to right): Ikram Elharti of Sahara Rose, Gloryvee Cordero of SciX, Kimba M. Williams of Kushae by BK Naturals, Tonya Cronin of Responder Wipes, Indira Vega of CCI Group, and Kaycee Cope Jones of Apolla Performance Wear. Photo by Mary Kent.

The six 2019 PropelHER Pitch Competition finalists (left to right): Ikram Elharti of Sahara Rose, Gloryvee Cordero of SciX, Kimba M. Williams of Kushae by BK Naturals, Tonya Cronin of Responder Wipes, Indira Vega of CCI Group, and Kaycee Cope Jones of Apolla Performance Wear. Photo by Mary Kent.


women who win graduates, 2018

WWW2018 graduates.jpg

In June, we recognized our graduates from the spring Women Who Win mentorship program.

Thank you to Merrill Lynch for sponsoring!  

If you missed this year's event, don't worry. Look for the next Mentoring Session to open at the end of the year and kick off in January 2019.




Florida Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy holds
Roundtable with members from nawbo orlando

United States Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, representing Florida’s seventh district, invited members of NAWBO Orlando to participate in a roundtable discussion on Wednesday, May 2, to celebrate National Small Business Week at her office in downtown Orlando. Topics included issues that affect small businesses, particularly women business owners and advocacy for pertinent legislative policies that will encourage growth in the private sector and benefit local economies. 

Representative Murphy opened the roundtable meeting sharing statistics that underscore the impact of women entrepreneurs:

  • Women-owned businesses employ over 9 million workers and generate more than $1.7 trillion in revenues.

  • Almost all (99.9%) of women-owned businesses are considered small businesses (fewer than 500 employees).

  • 38 percent of all businesses are women-owned.

As someone who worked for years in the private sector, I understand how challenging it can be to start and grow a small business. During our roundtable, I heard from local business leaders that we must do more to help women entrepreneurs overcome systemic barriers to the capital and resources they need to thrive. I’ll keep working in a bipartisan way to empower all job creators and bring well-paying jobs here to central Florida.
— Rep. Stephanie Murphy

She discussed the Microloan Modernization Act, H.R.2056, a bill she authored to increase access to capital for new and early-phase small businesses, including borrowers with little to no credit history who generally cannot qualify for conventional bank loans. H.R. 2056 would make improvements to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Microloan program, which offers small businesses microloans of $50,000 or less through nonprofit lending intermediaries. The intermediary is also required to provide technical assistance and training to their borrowers and prospective borrowers.

Representative Murphy also discussed her successful initiative to increase overall funding for the SBA’s Women’s Business Centers (WBC) program, an entrepreneurial development program targeted to providing resources and technical assistance to aspiring women entrepreneurs and current business owners.  Representative Murphy was the author of an amendment that was included in the FY 2018 spending bill to increase funding for WBCs by $1 million, from $17 million to $18 million.  The additional funding will allow six to seven new WBCs to open in the country and allow central Florida to compete for one of its own.

“It is particularly fitting that Congresswoman Murphy invite NAWBO to participate in this business roundtable discussion during National Small Business Week, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of H.R. 5050 - the Women's Business Ownership Act, which was 30 years ago in 1988 with the help of NAWBO. Our organization continues to work with legislative leaders across the nation to advance women-owned businesses, and we hope our efforts lead to a comprehensive bipartisan piece of legislation that will advance the women business owner landscape for the next 30 years,” says Wendy Lyn Phillips, NAWBO Orlando President.

Members that participated in the roundtable included:

NAWBO team pic.JPG
  • NAWBO Orlando President, Wendy Lyn Phillips of Wendy Lyn Unlimited Inc., a communications company specializing in business strategy, PR, visual branding, professional image, app deployment, and strategic partnerships.

  • NAWBO Orlando President-Elect and Sponsor/Community Partnership Chair, Jennifer Dickerson, EnRep, a professional services firm geared to helping businesses increase efficiency, safety and profitability while ensuring compliance with local, state and federal regulations.

  • NAWBO Orlando Past President and NAWBO National Board member Lydia Chicles, BOLD! Technologies, an innovations company specializing in mobile app and web development, navigation tools and digital platforms.

  • Rania Arwani, Arwani Law Firm, specializing in personal injury, family and criminal law.

  • NAWBO Orlando Director, Regine Bonneau, RB Advisory, a boutique security firm setting the pace in the governance, risk, compliance and cybersecurity industry.

  • NAWBO Orlando Treasurer, Dalia Cantor, CPA Solutions, an Orlando CPA firm offering a broad range of services for business owners, medical professionals and independent professionals.

  • Maryann Kilgallon, Pink Lotus Technologies, LLC, designs and manufactures consumer brand products.

  • Nicole Perez, New York Life Orlando, provider of financial strategies, insurance, financial products, and funding for employee benefits to businesses and individuals.

  • Christa Santos, CKS Marketing Communications, provides integrated marketing communications for small to medium-sized businesses.

  • NAWBO Orlando Membership Chair, Cassi Willard, Franklin & Willard Law Offices, specializing in intellectual property and entertainment law.


Lydia chicles elected to nawbo's
national board of directors

The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) announced its new Board of Directors for 2018-19.  Of the slated members, three new additions to the board include Lydia Chicles, CEO of BOLD! Technologies in Winter Park, FL and a former NAWBO Orlando president.

L Chicles profile.jpg

The Board of Directors will hold its first meeting on June 17th in Washington, DC, with the official Board Installation taking place the following day.

“It is an absolute honor and I am humbled to continue serving NAWBO, now on the National Board.  It is important to me as I continue to lend my voice to women across all industries. Especially as the need to include more women in traditionally male dominated fields becomes increasingly evident, I’m excited to share my journey and encourage other women to take the leap of ownership! I am hoping that I will be able to provide encouragement and empower other women, especially as they look to scale and grow their business, to join NAWBO so that they may find a sisterhood of likeminded women who will elevate and support them,” says Chicles.

Housed at the National Entrepreneur Center in downtown Orlando, NAWBO Orlando is dedicated to building and empowering a strong community of women entrepreneurs by connecting them with the resources needed to grow their businesses, increase their influence, and stimulate economic development within their communities. 

The local organization does this through its initiatives on a monthly basis that include Lunch and Learn workshops, certification workshops, a mentoring program that connects college business students with business owners, advocacy workshops, an annual PropelHER™ Pitch Competition, after-hours member mixers and more.

“I have always been a global thinker but focused on a local community. My hope is that my efforts on a national level will allow for a transfer of my passion to our NAWBO Orlando women business owners and entrepreneurs. My new role specifically offers me the opportunity to continue growing both personally and professionally as I scale my own business initiatives,” says Chicles.  

NAWBO Orlando’s current president, Wendy Lyn Phillips adds, “Lydia’s appointment to the National Board of Directors at NAWBO is proof that the power of influence matters. Being both a gracious giver who understands the full value of investing in others, as well as an effective leader, Lydia will add immense value on a national level. We are all very proud to see her in this new role and know that she will be an asset.” 

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