Women’s business accelerator awarded $50K grant

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Zee Worstell (left) and Francine Spinelli (Courtesy AccelerateHER)
Zee Worstell (left) and Francine Spinelli (Courtesy AccelerateHER)

A Williamsburg-based women’s business accelerator was awarded a $50,000 check Wednesday from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Growth Accelerator Fund.

According to a press release from SBA, AccelerateHer of Williamsburg was one of 68 winners nationwide to be awarded the grant. A panel of judges reviewed over 400 applications and presentations to establish a pool of 200 finalists. From those 200 finalists, only 68 were selected as winners.

“Through this national competition, we are empowering accelerators which are led by and support women or other underrepresented groups,” SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said in the release.

The funding will support JunipHER, an AccelerateHER initiative launched in January to help mid-stage women business owners (WBOs) achieve growth. The project was designed by AccelerateHER owners Zee Worstell and Francine Spinelli to create a “female-centric remote business accelerator for independent women business owners,” a press release from the company stated.

“Our JunipHER Project is unique in that it is 100 percent virtual so women can join our program from anywhere,” Spinelli said in the release. “We focus on mid-stage women-owned businesses who have reached a plateau and need help scaling their business to grow. We work with them for a full year because we know that many of them have other responsibilities on top of running their business and they need to be able to work at their own pace.”

According to the release, only two percent of women-owned businesses achieve more than $1 million in yearly revenue. The JunipHER Project was launched to promote and support women-owned businesses through education. The remote business accelerator plans to have six classes of participants in 2016 and launch one per month in 2017.

For more information, visit www.thejunipherproject.com or call 1-800-864-8860.