Minorities, Women Defy Blizzard to set record during Global Entrepreneurship Week

Minorities, Women Defy Blizzard to set record during Global Entrepreneurship Week

16 Minority and woman owned businesses triumphed over the forces of nature to launch their startups during Global Entrepreneurship Week in Des Moines, Iowa. Participants pitched their business ideas for the opportunity to compete for $40,000 from the US Small Business Administration (SBA).

Beatrice Edwards, Founder of Minerals by Bee Organic Spa & Salon, with Mary Ellen Miller, Executive Director of 50/50 in 2020.

A special thank you to the board members, volunteers and sponsors of the Untraditional Start-A-Thon: Iowa State...

Posted by Iowa Black Business Coalition on Monday, November 23, 2015

It seemed as though all was lost when the first blizzard of the season caused The Iowa Black Business Coalition to cancel it's historic event for woman and minority startups. However, the community had other ideas.

Entrepreneurs, volunteers, and mentors from all over the state of Iowa had prepared for this Global Entrepreneurship Week event for almost a full year.

"Immediately after notifying everyone not to get on the unsafe roads, our board convened to make alternate arrangements", said Ini Augustine, President of The Iowa Black Business Coalition. The Downtown Des Moines Library kindly offered to allow us to hold the event there, with less than 24 hours notice.

Considering that there were over 30 car accidents in the aftermath of a blizzard that dropped 6-10 inches of snow, that turned out to be the right call.

"I was actually in my car, warming it up, and preparing to brave the roads", said Gerald Seals of Cedar Rapids. 

Gerald's determination to participate illustrates the intense need for services for business owners of color in the state of Iowa. While Iowa has several initiatives to  support women and minorities through the Targeted Small Business Program, and other nonprofits, African Americans and women are largely denied access to these taxpayer funded resources. This exclusion from loans, training, and mentorship have resulted in Iowa being the last in the nation for women and minority owned businesses.



This event was unique for for Iowa. Designed for women, minorities, and low income entrepreneurs, it was the only event of it's kind in the nation. Hopeful business owners used The Business Model Canvas to create a business plan outline, learned about the different types of business structures, and pitched their business ideas as part of the US Small Business Administration's InnovateHer competition.






Announcing The 2015 winner of The UnTraditional Start-A-Thon InnovateHer  Initial Round



Ezibota is a multi-media platform tailored for the African diaspora. Home to over 200 members representing 6 continents in over 70 countries, Ezibota is designed for members to be able to share stories, ideas, and resources with one another. This is a protected platform that hosts discussions, events, and activities allowing young people to diversify the African narrative. Founded by two African women, the company understands the importance of empowering women as key to creating lasting legacy. Through the combined efforts of inspired individuals and organizations alike, Ezibota believes that a connected and empowered global, African community is not only possible but inevitable. As online community builders,Ezibota will change the way young Africans interact with their identity, heritage, and one another.




The winner of the Initial Round will be nominated by The Iowa Black Business Coalition to advance to the semifinals.The . SBA will then narrow down the semi-finalists to up to 10 national Finalists. U.S. Federal Government employees will select the semifinalists, who will move on to compete in the Finals in Washington D.C.

The national Finalists will be invited to come to the Washington, D.C. metro area for the 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge and Summit (March 16-17, 2015) where they’ll be provided the opportunity to conduct a live marketing pitch to a team of expert judges drawn from the private sector and compete for Top Three winners and up to $70,000 in prize money.


The Iowa Black Business Coalition is an action oriented, community based organization that supports business professionals. Our goal is to grow a strong, vibrant community of entrepreneurs of color.

Spread the word about your company and meet other entrepreneurs.  Members get access marketing services, networking, training, and discounts.

Join Today


The Untraditional Start-A-Thon was made possible by generous donations from the following sponsors:

University of Iowa Logo


Iowa State UniversityIowa SBDC


West DM Biz Incubator logoCity of West Des Moines Logo

            SocialWise Media Group

 InnovateHer Competition

Official InnovateHer Contest



Showing 2 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.