New program aims to help Central Ga. women open their own businesses

As part of the Downtown Challenge, grant money was awarded to teach women business skills

For people who have had an idea for a new business but did not know how to get started, a new program may be able to help.

At the end of May, the Community Foundation of Central Georgia announced they will fund various projects in the effort to make Macon a better place to live and work.

One of those projects is the Female Entrepreneurs Academy.

According to a 2016 study, nationally, in the last decade, there has been a 45 percent increase in women- owned companies.

Now, Macon businesspeople want to support that trend.

Linda Brambila has been a business owner for 25 years, most recently opening Merle Norman and Day Spa on Bowman Road two years ago.

“It was a business about which I had passion,” she says.  “I wanted to help women learn to be more beautiful and to be their best selves every day.”

Brambila is also a member of a small club of fellow local female entrepreneurs called Masterminds, and their businesses are all geared toward serving women.  

She would like to see more women turn their passions into profit by opening their own businesses.

“They need to know the steps to take,” Brambila says.

Stephanie Howard, a Marketing professor at Mercer University and Director of the Mercer Innovation Center wants to teach women those steps.      

Howard came up with the idea for the Female Entrepreneur Academy after noticing she has just as many female students as male students in her classes.  However, that is not reflected in the market.

“Where is the disconnect between the balance in the classroom between genders, but when I look around and see start-ups, I don't see a lot of female faces?” Howards asks.

After applying for a grant, the Community Foundation of Central Georgia awarded $10,000 to launch the Academy.

There, Howard says they will teach everything from how to get a license, to marketing strategies, to networking.

The money will go toward using a facility, workbooks, and other learning materials.

Howard says she is not sure why fewer women pursue entrepreneurship, but believes it could be because many women are juggling responsibilities at home and raising children. She also adds many start-ups are in fields that are still mostly male-dominated, including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Howard says she wants to see women help grow Macon’s economy by encouraging entrepreneurs that may not have otherwise pursued their ideas.

“Broadening the options for women,” she says.  “Yes, you can launch a business, and it can be sustainable.”

Right now, there is not an official launch date for the program, but Howard says it will be by next Spring.

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