Release Date: June 26, 2017
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Melissa Hooper, owner of Che García Chimichurri, has been named Protégé of the Year by the Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs (MWEE) program, a joint venture by the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) and the UB Center for Urban Studies.
Hooper earned a $1,500 prize for the honor. She says the MWEE program gave her skills and knowledge she was immediately able to apply in her business of making Argentinian marinade.
“The program pushed me to learn about all aspects of business, gave me the opportunity to collaborate with others to identify better ways of doing business and helped me set clear, achievable goals,” says Hooper.
Laura Duquette, owner of 12 Grain Studio, was awarded second place and a $1,000 prize. Shayna Israel, owner of Plurality Press, took third place and a $500 prize.
The awards were handed out at a graduation ceremony for three CEL programs in June at UB’s Center for the Arts.
Sponsored by The Allstate Foundation, the MWEE program helps minority and women entrepreneurs take their companies to the next stage of development with business development seminars twice a month, networking events and one-on-one mentoring.
After entering as protégés last year, 34 participants graduated, bringing the total number of local entrepreneurs who have completed the MWEE program to 261 since it launched in 2004.
The graduates were:
Each participant was assigned a mentor from the local business community to help devise realistic business goals and develop timetables and strategies for achieving them. Mentors met regularly with participants, providing advice in strategic and tactical thinking, marketing, long-range financial planning and more.
David Berghash, CEL ’93, CEO of Shield Manufacturing, was honored as Mentor of the Year.
The CEL is accepting applications for the 2018 MWEE program. To be eligible, an entrepreneur must be a woman or member of a recognized minority group and own a business in the Buffalo Niagara region.
Individuals interested in the program can learn more about the curriculum and speak candidly with MWEE alumni at an open house at 8 a.m. July 26 at the UB Educational Opportunity Center, located at 555 Ellicott St., Buffalo. To register for the open house or apply, contact the CEL at 716-885-5715 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Allstate Foundation, a charitable organization funded by subsidiaries of Allstate Insurance Corp., provides philanthropic grants to nonprofit organizations. With a focus on teen safe driving and building financial independence for domestic violence survivors, The Allstate Foundation also promotes safe and vital communities; tolerance, inclusion and diversity; and economic empowerment. For more information, visit allstatefoundation.org.
Established in 1987, the CEL provides participants with individualized and interactive education in entrepreneurship. More than 1,300 CEL alumni employ more than 22,000 Western New Yorkers, and their businesses contribute more than $2 billion to the local economy annually. For more information, visit mgt.buffalo.edu/cel.