Meet the Ladies of the “Village”
October is National Women’s Small Business Month! To honor the occasion, we are celebrating five of the historic Westside’s own female entrepreneurs: Keitra Bates, Chloe Harper, Cayana Mackey, Akua Taylor, and Harriett Williams.
Aside from being incredibly ambitious and visionary, these ladies also share a connection to the Village Micro Fund, a grassroots micro-finance organization that supports Westside start-ups and our Oct. 6 Transform Westside Summit featured presenter.
Each entrepreneur graduated from the Village Micro Fund’s business incubator and has seen her business soar to new heights as a result! The program provided access to capital, business education and a “Village” of support.
Below, read the stories of three of the five pioneering entrepreneurs and find out more about their ventures, what they gained from the Village Micro Fund experience, what it means to be a female entrepreneur and why they love being historic Westside business owners.
Cayana Mackey, Spring 2017 Cohort, Westsview Resident
Business Venture: Party Because ATL
Party Because ATL is a social impact event group focused on bringing the party while supporting a cause.
We work with social entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and small businesses to create events to raise awareness and bring funding to their cause. Millennials are the target demographic for our events because of their natural bent towards social justice causes.
We seek to be the premier way for millennials and social causes to connect at fun and engaging events. Our Westside Ride brings young professionals on a social justice bus tour led by a community advocate around a target issue. The tour ends in a collaborative party at a local venue. We also plan fundraising events for nonprofits and social causes to address their awareness needs.
By collaborating with various community partners we’re able to build experiences that not only bring people together but help a worthy cause.
Why the Westside? The Westside was the obvious choice for me to work based on the need and the hustle of so many minority led grassroots organizations and small businesses. We collaborate with these groups to continue the work of the community. I serve as a way to bring their work to the next level.
Images below of Cayana’s recent Party Because event, The Westside Ride, with nonprofit Gangstas to Growers. Cayana introduced more than 30 young professionals to the organization during the tour, which focused on sustainable agriculture. Participants gained first-hand information about the issue and saw the work being done locally around providing better food and economic opportunities for the Historic Westside community.
What does it mean to you to be a female entrepreneur? To be a female entrepreneur, it means working harder than everyone around. Women are seen as less business minded than men. This is why we have to perform more than our male counterparts.
What did you gain from your involvement with the Village Micro Fund? I gained a network of supportive entrepreneurs who I could collaborate and partner with to make my business grow.
What do you love most about the historic Westside community? I love the people. So many socially-conscious, community-minded, and black-centric people working to connect our neighborhoods.
What is your hope for the Westside? I hope that the Westside stays in the hands of the people who worked and lived here first. I hope that the community builds from within and the economy is shaped from the entrepreneurial mindset of the residents.
Akua Taylor, Spring 2016 Cohort, Ashview Heights Resident
Business Venture: Ashview Heights BNB (Bed and Breakfast)
Why the Westside? I wanted to work from home and have a home-based business, so when I purchased the home, a bed and breakfast seemed to be the ideal option.
What does it mean to you to be a female entrepreneur? Necessary! I hope other single moms find a way to support themselves and be their own boss. It’s liberating!
What did you gain from your involvement with the Village Micro Fund? Motivation and support. The cohort fueled me and kept me going. Being surrounded by other hungry business people made me want to rise to the occasion and do my best.
What do you love most about the historic Westside community? My neighbors genuinely care about each other, we look out for each other. Everyone wants to succeed and we help each other do so.
What is your hope for the Westside? I hope the development of the Westside involves our disenfranchised brothers and sisters. Poor people can not be shuffled out with the broom of gentrification, everyone should have a seat at the table.
Read the Atlanta Loop profile on Akua and her business: “Ashview Heights BNB provides cozy space”
Harriett Williams, Spring 2017 Cohort
Business Venture: The Tubman Group
The Tubman Group is a boutique consulting firm that helps startups, aspiring entrepreneurs, and small businesses build the roadmap to their dream life. We have over 80 years of collective experience and are passionate about helping businesses grow and scale.
Why the Westside? I wanted a sense of community and there are also many small businesses located in this area.
What does it mean to you to be a female entrepreneur? It means that you aren’t afraid of a challenge and that you are willing to put in work to make your dreams a reality.
What did you gain from your involvement with the Village Micro Fund? I gained an amazing network of entrepreneurs and a support team. Being an entrepreneur can be quite difficult at times and having a community that provides support is really encouraging.
What do you love most about the historic Westside community? I love the people and the culture. It is so amazing that many civil rights leaders and historical figures were also in this community and so heavily invested here. There is a deep history that we need to preserve.
What is your hope for the Westside? My hope for the Westside is that businesses and residents will work together to preserve the history and culture. With the influx of new development and people, it is quite possible for much of that to be lost.
Want to learn more about the Village Micro Fund? Check out some of the organization’s most recent headlines!
- WABE: April 2017 “Closer Look” feature
- GatherGoodATL: 3 Morehouse Alums Bank on Atlanta’s Westside with Village Micro Fund
- The Human Capital Theory: Village Micro Fund
You can also meet the founders of the Village Micro Fund, Donte Miller and Nathan Jones, and hear them tell their story first-hand at our Oct. 6 Transform Westside Summit where they will be our featured presenters.