NEWARK, NJ - The city is partnering with several groups to launch a free, nine-week training program to bolster women-led companies based in Newark.

Walker’s Legacy, a company that supports multicultural women in business, teamed up with the city to provide the Women Who Enterprise program. Twenty-five women entrepreneurs will be linked with an instructor who will teach the legal aspects of small business, accounting, human resource planning and more.

“People love to be able to know that they're not going it alone,” said Walker’s Legacy founder and CEO Natalie Madeira Cofield during a press conference today announcing the program. “Entrepreneurship is probably one of the loneliest experiences you can have. So when you have a group and a community of other like-minded women, who are standing next to you and boldly going towards their vision as well, it's inspiring and uplifting.”

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Cofield began Walker's Legacy nine years ago after reading a biography about Madam C.J. Walker, who is lauded as the first black female millionaire in the United States. Walker's Legacy partnered with the city last year for Moms Who Enterprise, a financial literacy program that helps single mothers of color.

The newest program is looking to help women companies that have garnered at least $100,000 in revenue and are trying to find new ways to grow. The program will begin Feb. 9. Classes will be held every Saturday at the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation offices at 111 Mulberry St. 

The training will also teach women how to create marketing and communications plans and how to select and train employees.  Presentations will also be given by regional industry leaders, professors, investors, government officials and other entrepreneurs.

The city will be using Walker's Legacy curriculum to teach the program. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said the classes would foster generational wealth for women as the city experiences rapid economic change.

“With this program, it gives them the support that they need, the scaffolding that they need to sustain themselves for another five years, another six years, another seven years,” Baraka said. “And then figure how to develop a strategy where they can expand their business for longer periods of time, to make it generational like male businesses have done for decades.”

The Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (NCEDC) will also work with Walker's Legacy to bring the program to the city. NCEDC Interim President & CEO Lyneir Richardson explained that this latest program grew out the Moms Who Enterprise project based on the feedback that was received.

“The goal was to continue to provide services that would help entrepreneurs who are already established, who are trying to figure out how to get the next level,” Richardson said. “That level is core to the work of the Newark CEDC here.”

Richardson said the NCEDC is working with Rutgers University to determine the number of women business owners in Newark. A 2017 report by American Express estimated that women-owned businesses accounted for about 39 percent of all U.S. firms.  

Capital One is sponsoring the program. Theresa Bedeau, vice president of community development banking at Capital One, said the classes will help women entrepreneurs access resources and reach their full potential.

“Despite their continued success, women entrepreneurs in the U.S. are often faced with challenges of accessing capital and the attention from investors, and what this program helps to do is to change that,” Bedeau said. “Together, we can open up doors and opportunities to make sure that more women have access to the resources they need to really live out their dreams.”

The Women Who Enterprise program opened applications last week. Sixty applications have already been received for the 25 spots. To apply, visit the Walker’s Legacy website.

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