At the beginning of 2017, Forbes wrote that there were no Black women running any of the Fortune 500 companies. Lauren Bealore and her team at Young, Ambitious and Beautiful (YAB) are working now to shift that statistic.
Five years ago, Bealore’s frustration with the lack of representation of women of color owned businesses being highlighted in the media, led her to take action towards change. Partnering with her friend Brittany Daisy Colston, who at the time only focused on young girls, they aimed to work with another friend, Courtney Griffin and revamp the nonprofit. With the transformation, they would include mentoring adult women that needed help growing and building their companies and networks.
It was then that the current version of YAB was born. The nonprofit helps their ‘Venture Partners’ or the women owned businesses that have applied and received entry to their program, in three main areas: Business & Development, Community Engagement and Mentorship, and Personal Development. “We each have an area that’s befitting of where our personal careers lie,” Bealore explained.
Bealore works in politics and has experience with running campaigns, fundraising and strategic partnerships so she oversees Business Development. She aims to teach her participants that “being a ‘hustlepreneur’ and being an entrepreneur is two different things.”
Using the 360 degree approach and not overstepping each other’s boundaries, Griffin is over Community Engagement, helping the team secure a partnership with Chicago Public Schools, and Colston is over Personal Development.
Bealore believes their model is crucial. She says, “If we keep continuing to treat business as if it’s a side project and not as if it’s to create a conglomerate or movement or an enterprise, than I think that’s one step closer to changing what we have historically found with women of color and business being synonymous.”
In addition to one-on-one and group coaching, YAB hosts events with different coworking spaces to create a pipeline and have more women business owners learn about the resources and opportunities like accelerator programs and space that is lower than the cost of opening up a building or ‘brick and mortar’ operation.
“With Bamboo Detroit, a big co-working space, we brought the ‘Sister Sip’ series. That started because gentrification has become very popular and we wanted to debunk this myth of what gentrification is,” Bealore said. YAB exposed their guests to women of color that owned businesses in the area to show that there was diversity.
“My cofounders and I don't like people putting a race on what you can do,” Bealore explained.
Though studies have shown that Black women entrepreneurs are growing, they have had trouble getting investors and are still not getting what they need to flourish. “I feel like ‘growing’ is synonymous with getting your face out there, being ‘in the room’ but then there’s a difference between being ‘in the room’ and being ‘at the table.’" Bealore said. “I feel like a table is where a lot of the decisions are made; decisions that affect people economically and the decisions that affect communities and I think that is where things could be shaken up a little bit more.“
Serving 30 venture partners and a community of over 3,000 people online, next, YAB wants to help more women in new cities they have not reached yet. Further, they want to help the next generation of entrepreneurs by helping to fund young women interested in studying business in college.
“I know part of our goals is to be able to give out more scholarships,” Bealore explained. “We were able to give out two scholarships last year and the year before that we just gave out a book stipend. We want to give out four scholarships in 2017.”
YAB wants to change the mentality of women of color business owners and help to funnel more women’s companies into the Fortune 500.
Bealore knows it will not be easy, but operates under a worthy theme, “There’s one model we always use in addition to our mission and that’s the Dr. Martin Luther King model to ‘lift as you climb.’ We wouldn’t use the crabs in the bucket mentality, but the ‘guided hand,’ helpful mentality and that’s not just expressed in your resume, but in your character.”