Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs Honored

By Jacqueline Ghosen

Release Date: December 7, 2005 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo resident Alexa Wajed has been named "Protégé of the Year" by the Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs Program, a joint venture of the University at Buffalo School of Management Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) and the UB Center for Urban Studies.

Wajed, of Emani Kemet Enterprises and Gallery 51, received a $1,500 prize for the honor. Awards for second and third place went to Buffalo residents Harriett Black of Hair Concepts by Duchess, and Carrie DeGeorge of The Laundry Basket Too. They received $1,000 and $500, respectively.

The year-long program, sponsored by The Allstate Foundation, a charitable organization funded by subsidiaries of Allstate Insurance Corp., drew to a close with the presentation of the awards at a banquet held Dec. 5 in the Jacobs Executive Development Center, 672 Delaware Ave.

The participants, who entered the program as protégés last January, each were assigned two mentors who are successful entrepreneurs from the local business community and who met regularly with them to help them evaluate and improve their business plans.

"Mentor of the Year" awards were given to Wajed's mentors, Donald J. Hahn of Hahn and Associates, and Conway Porter of Conway Porter, CPA.

In addition to the winners above, nine individuals completed the program. They are:

Buffalo residents Terry Baker, Lake Effect Laundry; Janice Crews-Dearing, J Crews & Associates, Inc.; Beverly Deas, People Printing; Freida Joyce, New Masten Eaton Lounge; Junko Kanamura, JK Solutions; Donna Pratt, Kadoma International; Carla Singleton, Singleton Construction Consultants, Inc.; Winsome White, Eleanor's Boutique, and Cheektowaga resident, Kathy Collins, WNY Property Management, Inc.

"As a result of this program, these 12 graduates have sought to foster their economic independence, advance the future of their families and, in turn, strengthen the economic health of their community," said Allstate Foundation Director Inez Birbiglia. "Knowing that these strong, intelligent

women have further enhanced their development by acquiring tactical business skills demonstrates the continued success of the UB/Allstate Foundation partnership."

Althea Luehrsen, executive director of CEL, said the mission of the program "is to create a pathway that enables minority and women emerging entrepreneurs to move their companies to the next stage of development.

"Now in its second year, the program has again exceeded our expectations and we look forward to another great year in 2006," she added.

Mentors provided protégés with technical advice on varied aspects of running a small business, such as strategic and tactical thinking, marketing, merchandising, pricing, inventory control, accounting, long-range financial planning and basic legal advice to help protégés formulate realistic business goals and to develop timetables and strategies for achieving them.

The culminating activity in the program was creation of a new or revised business plan. One year after completing the program, protégés will be invited back to assess the program's impact on the development of their businesses.

Applications for the 2006 program are due by Jan. 20, 2006. To be eligible to apply, an entrepreneur must be a woman or a member of a recognized minority group (African American, Latino, Native American or Asian) and must own a business in the Buffalo-Niagara region. For more information on the Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs Program, call CEL at (716) 885-5715 or visit http://mgt.buffalo.edu/ced/cel.