( ENSPIRE Man Code 101 ) The Mom Boss Grant Awards $1,000 to a Deserving Business Mom
ENSPIRE Contributor: Anastasia Hanna
Mother’s Day is just around the corner. It’s a day to honor mothers, motherhood, and maternal bonds. Though, some mothers may have it rough this year. COVID-19 has driven many mothers to leave the workforce at four times the rate of men. However, this may present an opportunity, enabling them to pursue a skill or passion that their 9 to 5 job would not have allowed them to truly embrace before. Despite Metro Atlanta being Georgia’s fifth-best market for women-owned companies, overall support for these businesses appears to be scarce.
Women Business Enterprises (WBE) is one of Georgia’s fastest-growing markets, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and the state ranks fifth in the United States for the greatest number of women-owned businesses. Georgia ranks second in growth in the number of women-owned firms and seventh in growth in economic clout of women-owned firms.
Despite being a rich market for entrepreneurial women, female-run businesses, mothers included, have a harder time securing funds. In fact, less than three percent of women-owned startups received venture capital backing last year. That is down from 3.4 percent the year before.
That is why Donald Williams, CEO and founder of Suivant Consulting, an Atlanta-based small business consulting company, has introduced the Mom Boss Grant to aid single mompreneurs along their entrepreneurial journey. The grant, which can be found here, awards $1,000 to a deserving mother.
Williams is no stranger to providing entrepreneurial support. In February 2020, he presented one meriting entrepreneur with a $5,000 grant through the “Be Your Own Boss” pitch competition. He has also worked closely with the Atlanta Children’s Shelter by sponsoring and facilitating its annual Christmas toy drive.
“My mother has always played a strong role in my life,” says Donald Williams. “I currently own two businesses with offices in two different states, and I credit the words and encouragement from my mom for much of my success. As an accountant and small business consultant, I understand the difficulties many women face acquiring funding. As if it wasn’t hard enough, mothers—who split their time between building their business, managing employees, and raising a family—tend to find it more difficult just finding time to access funds. That is why the Mom Boss grant is so important to me. Through this grant, we seek to eliminate some of the barriers of funding for women entrepreneurs and to create opportunities for them to build their businesses.”
ENSPIRE Magazine got in touch with Williams to discuss the personal significance mompreneurs hold in his life, the necessity of the Mom Boss grant, tips for women and mompreneurs, and more.
So, why do mompreneurs matter to you?
Mompreneurs matter to me because they have two very important full-time jobs—building a business and raising a family. Very few people have the energy or passion to handle these two challenging jobs, and yet, mompreneurs find the energy needed to be successful at both of them. Mompreneurs have unselfish motives of wanting to take care of their families while also making our world a better place.
They inspire all of us in business to make sure that our business is doing more than just making money, and instead, is benefiting our community in a meaningful way. Mompreneurs also promote positive business changes by providing their workers with a more flexible and balanced work environment that allows their workers to handle family and personal matters while still giving their best effort to the business.
Like all other entrepreneurs, mompreneurs face numerous obstacles when starting and building their business, including obtaining adequate financing. As a result, I am having my business place a special emphasis on aiding and supporting mompreneurs in all aspects of their businesses and am providing grants to mompreneurs to help finance their business operations.
Are there any strong women in your life who have impacted you? If so, how?
My mother, Debra Williams, is the strong woman in my life who has had a tremendous impact on me. She has not had an easy life and had to raise a large family with limited support. Despite life’s challenges, she has always shown tremendous strength and overcome those challenges. She gave me the love, support, discipline, and attention that I needed, when I needed it. She encouraged me to be myself and to pursue my dreams. While others discouraged me from seeking an education and wanting to start businesses, she encouraged me to get an education and go into business. She always told me that I could do anything that I set my mind to do, and she was right. She is proud of my successes and still loves me when I fail. My mother’s life is one of the major reasons I want to support mompreneurs and other working mothers.
Why do you feel the Mom Boss grant was necessary?
Mothers are natural entrepreneurs. In fact, one in three women small business owners are mothers. That translates to more than 4 million businesses. Moms tend to juggle a lot at home and often manage the household. They are delegating work and making a way out of no way. Even with a partner, this is a lot. Imagine having to do all that as a single mom who is also building a business? I created this grant because I wanted these entrepreneurs, specifically, to know that they are seen and they are supported.
Why do you think women-owned businesses have a harder time securing funds?
I think women have a hard time securing funding for several reasons. Like most minority-owned businesses, those with the funds do not look like them. Women founders are treated differently when seeking money. They are often asked questions that don’t relate to business. As a result, they tend to not secure as much as their male counterparts.
There was a 2019 study by Crunchbase that showed 17 percent of businesses with at least one woman founder received funding, but that number dropped all the way to 2 percent for businesses that solely have female founders. I have been in meetings and talk finances with both women and men-owned businesses, and I’ve noticed that women tend to be more conservative when asking for money. I think our society has also been conditioned to shun women who ask for what they want. Through our grant, we’re trying to do our part to change that.
What are some other challenges faced by mom/women entrepreneurs?
I was reading an article that really spelled out the various challenges that women entrepreneurs faced. Some of the major challenges, besides funding, are the balancing of responsibilities, gender inequality, and unfavorable business environments. Because at least one-third of women small business owners are also mothers, they tend to bear much of the parenting weight, as well as running a full-time business.
Without the financial backing to secure employees or adequate systems to help them streamline their workload, the business ends up lacking in something. The kids and family will always come first. We also know that laws, cultures, and politics are built on a patriarchal foundation. Unfortunately, that means women in business must work their way up through a world that wasn’t designed to accept them. With that being said, certain religions and cultures simply don’t allow women to be in business as well.
Do you have any tips for how women/single mothers can beat the odds?
I think it pays to always be a student of business. Get in the practice of asking for what you want, unapologetically. In my book, Eat What You Kill, I talk about the power of networking. Women business owners, and single mother business owners, especially, have to tap into their network for support. If they don’t have one, they have to build one. These could be neighbors, other business owners, social media professional groups, or other online support systems. I am an advocate for mentors, people whose success you’d like to emulate.
I think every good entrepreneur should have their own personal advisory board. Women entrepreneurs face more of an uphill battle and might want to throw in the towel. Having that strong, experienced advisory board will give these amazing women the support they need.
Do you know of any additional resources and opportunities mom/women entrepreneurs can take advantage of?
Absolutely! I invite them to take advantage of our Mom Boss grant. We will be awarding one outstanding single mom entrepreneur on May 7th. The $1,000 can take them further than they think! Suivant Consulting, my small business consulting firm, is always accepting new clients. Mom entrepreneurs can also seek their local SBA chapter or SCORE for general small business assistance. For funding support, there are a variety of nonprofits specifically focused on supporting women and minorities in business. The resources are there, we just have to seek them!
To be eligible, the entrepreneur must be a single mother who can show proof of business ownership. She must then submit her grant application here and explain how the grant would aid in the growth of her business. The winner will be informed by Friday, May 7th, and publicly announced on Mother’s Day, May 9th.
Suivant Consulting is an Atlanta-based small business firm that offers practical resources, tools and insight to help entrepreneurs and small business owners at all stages of business. To learn more, visit SuivantConsulting.com.