LaunchNET program looks to uplift Black women in business

Reegan Saunders Reporter

LaunchNET is working to create new opportunities for Black women on campus. Founded by Tabitha Messmore, assistant director of LaunchNET at Kent S­­tate, and Alicia Robinson, former assistant director of the Women’s Center, Black Women Bosses is an “entrepreneurship and leadership program for Black, female student entrepreneurs.”

The program was piloted virtually in the spring of 2021 due to COVID-19 regulations. The first cohort included seven women whose entrepreneurship endeavors ranged from beauty products to fashion brands to educational blogs.

Black Women Bosses is aimed at strengthening Black women’s voices and giving them the tools they need to be successful entrepreneurs. Whether a candidate only has a pitch deck prepared or has already been running a business for years, the mentors help guide them through the next steps.

While the program focuses on tactile skills, such as pitching an idea or networking with people, it also emphasizes finding positive partnerships in entrepreneurship, especially in spaces that are dominated by white males.

“It’s very grounded in the personal relationships with the subject, but with themselves as well,” Messmore said. “For me, that’s super important, because I feel like, even if the idea that you have right now… even if you never make any money off of it, even if you never sell a thing, the confidence that you can build by doing that will really help propel you in your successes going forward.” 

The goal is that by the end of the program, the entrepreneurs will be able to apply for a microgrant sponsored by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. This grant will allow the entrepreneur to continue developing their business.

Black Women Bosses 2.0 begins December 10 with an in-person introductory session for those interested in the program. More information can be found on the sign-up page.

Reegan Saunders is a reporter. Contact them at [email protected].