What a crazy year it has been! We kicked off the first half of the year with an unprecedented virus pandemic that shuttered the economy, sickened thousands, and has kept us indoors for months on end. Just when it appeared that businesses were going to begin reopening, the riots and protesting over the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter created another undue burden to those companies affected in one way or another by the looting in or around their own neighborhoods.
Looking back, I can’t help but think about how many women entrepreneurs felt alone, frustrated and saddened by what they were seeing in the media while watching their businesses caught up in a situation that – through no fault of their own – set them back once again.
I am no expert on the virus or on issues of social justice, but I do know what it felt like when I lost over 90% of my business to the pandemic. During the first week, I panicked. I feared losing my business completely and I was overwhelmed with worry for my employees. When the protests began, another wave of emotions settled in as I asked myself, “Can it get any worse than this?”
With mixed emotions coming from all directions, I paused to consider what I could do at this very important moment that can make a difference. I already had the support I needed to get through this from my mentor and coach, and from my sisterhood and community through NAWBO. But what could I do for other women business owners who didn’t have either of those support systems in place?
In my installation speech I spoke about not fitting in at first when I joined NAWBO, but how I quickly realized that it really wasn’t about not having others who looked like me in the room: It was about allowing myself the opportunity to stand with other women who had the same common interests. Could it be that I also felt this way because I, too, have faced racial discrimination? Regardless of the answer, my NAWBO membership provided me with unlimited opportunities to learn and network with other women, and to remain strong under life’s unexpected circumstances. For that reason, I have chosen “Together and Stronger” as my theme for the 2020-2021 calendar year.
NAWBO was established 45 years ago to propel women to excellence and to be the unified voice of over 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States, representing the fastest growing segment of the economy. It represents the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries. Yes, I said all female entrepreneurs. As the Number One chapter in the US, we want to invite all women – especially those of color – to join our family. This moment is the perfect time to join an organization that really cares about its members. As we continue to face similar challenges in our businesses and at home, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that we step out of our comfort zone and expand our reach to not only a select few, but to the masses of women business owners that work hard to build up their communities.
As your new president, I cannot tell you how excited I am to lead this chapter. As I reflect on how and where I grew up, who would have imagined that a girl raised in Englewood and Little Village to a single mother of six, would be leading an organization like NAWBO Chicago. I am humbled to be working with a dynamic board that is ready and willing to serve ALL women owned businesses in Chicago. Collectively we are committed to increasing the diversity of our membership and board, bringing in programming that reflects the needs of our members, and standing by and supporting our members when they need us most.
I ask that you take a leap of faith and continue to support NAWBO, persistently invite your colleagues to join. and from time to time, to take a step back from your business and join us on a zoom Happy Hour, Connects meeting, or one of our Mastermind groups. It is here that you will see us TOGETHER AND STRONGER!
NAWBO Board President
Metaphrasis Language & Cultural Solutions, LLC