Minority founders make up less than 1% of those that get investment opportunities. Black women, especially, face many hurdles in their entrepreneurship journeys such as limited start-up funding, lacking the financial ability to take risks that fund business projects, limited knowledge on how to manage finances or accounting, and limited visibility or low social capital.
Like many of my peers, I was constantly looking for funds to grow my business with the empowered goal of normalizing wellness for all.
Recently, out of more than 12,500 applicants nationwide, I was one of 35 entrepreneurs awarded a $10K grant from Sage and The BOSS Network. This fund invests in black women-led businesses and prepares entrepreneurs to build scalable, growth-oriented companies.
My small business, Akili Well, stems from a passion for wellness and health. I have always been the “go-to” on this subject for the people in my life so it made sense for me to apply my passion to a business venture.
I have experienced feeling overworked, undervalued, and stressed out in the workplace and realized, only after I prioritized my health and well-being, that it directly impacted my performance as an employee. I wondered why employee wellness was not at the center of everyone’s work culture when it made such a difference.
Akili Well was born as the answer to those questions with a focus on improving the lives of BIPOC.
This grant has evened the playing field for entrepreneurs like me by providing access to crucial advice and technology, but the work to support minority small business owners cannot stop there. The accounting field, like many others, needs greater diversity and a strong commitment to helping minority business owners access the right tools for success.
The right tools
My biggest challenge with my business has been growing my knowledge of business operations. The grant from the BOSS Impact Fund has provided me with expanded resources to help and cover business activities that I originally thought I had to do myself.
I’m using my grant on general operating costs to build out concepts and services, hire independent contractors to create mindful movement videos for our yoga and mindful movement on-demand library and figure out ways to provide services at a lower cost for people who are low-income.
Business accounting software is helping me to boost my efficiency with day-to-day processes. Improving my financial management allows me to feel confident that I will have the foundational systems and processes in place to be set up for long-term growth.
Building a strengthened and diverse community
How can other professionals join The BOSS Network and Sage in knocking down barriers for Black women entrepreneurs? It starts with being willing to engage with the community and offer education, information, and resources.
Small businesses also greatly benefit from being offered practical tools that can be easily implemented, such as technology that provides visibility and flexibility to manage finances, operations, and people. Discrimination, bias, lack of education and unequal access to technology create barriers that keep many people from succeeding.
Ask yourself: What can you do as accounting or tax professionals to help dismantle these barriers? Whether it’s volunteering to be a mentor or giving a discount to newly opened minority-owned businesses come tax season, everyone can do their part in nurturing diversity in today’s small business landscape.
At Akili Well, we aim to normalize wellness nationwide by connecting people to their bodies, nutrition habits, and lifestyle practices. With the BOSS Network and Sage, we can normalize the success of businesses that may otherwise not see the next growth stage.
Josie Santiago is founder of Akili Well. Santiago was one of 35 entrepreneurs awarded a $10K Sage Invest in Progress grant from Sage and The BOSS Network.
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