Enterprising Women of Color DMV Business Center Launches Inaugural Ascend.Her Capital Accelerator Cohort

Ascend.Her: Phoenix Cohort will help women of color entrepreneurs rise and become more resilient

Washington, D.C. (July 28, 2021) – The Enterprising Women of Color DMV Business Center (Center) today announced the launch of the inaugural Ascend.Her Capital Accelerator: Phoenix Cohort. With a focus on sustaining the resiliency of businesses owned by women of color throughout the region, the cohort will help women rise from an incredibly challenging economic environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The eight-week, intensive program will strengthen entrepreneurs’ financial capability, deepen marketing and relationship-building skills, and position entrepreneurs to secure affordable growth capital. The Ascend.Her: Phoenix cohort draws on the curriculum offered through its parent accelerator, Wacif’s award-winning Ascend Capital Accelerator. Prospective applicants can learn more and apply online by 11:59 PM Tuesday, August 20, 2021. 

“Investing in women entrepreneurs of color has been core to Wacif’s impact and at the center of our efforts to deepen our investments,” said Wacif CEO Harold B. Pettigrew Jr. “The Ascend.Her Capital Accelerator: Phoenix Cohort will support the resilience of women entrepreneurs of color, and further their rise from the impact of an unprecedented year as we drive an equitable economic recovery in our region.”  

Women of color-owned businesses retained approximately 2.4 million jobs across the country in 2019.1 The reality faced by these women tell a different story: if the average revenue generated from minority women-owned firms matched that of white women-owned businesses, $981 billion would be added to the U.S. economy.2 

“Women of color entrepreneurs are essential job and wealth creators nationwide and locally in the D.C. area,” said Enterprising Women of Color DMV Business Center Program Director Messay Derebe. “By supporting these entrepreneurs with customized advisory services, access to capital, and networking, the Ascend.Her Capital Accelerator: Phoenix Cohort will provide an opportunity to reflect, recover, and rebuild stronger than ever before.” 

Wacif’s Ascend Capital Accelerator program has supported 55 dynamic entrepreneurs across the region, and nearly 70% of them were women. The 2021 Phoenix Cohort will include up to 15 women of color entrepreneurs across the Greater Washington region. Eligible applicants include independent, local, minority, and women-owned small businesses with at least two (2) years of operation. Businesses in operation for fewer than 2 years may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Prospective applicants must also: 

  • Be registered and in good standing to operate a business
  • Have at least $50,000 in annual sales
  • Have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
    • Loss in revenue
    • Losing team members
    • Loss of major contracts

Launched in 2017, Wacif’s Ascend Capital Accelerator is a strategic investment addressing the disparities of underrepresented entrepreneurs, and designed to help entrepreneurs access working and growth capital, open new pathways to business opportunities, and accelerate business growth. With the goal of building capacity and financial assets for local small businesses, the intensive multi-week small business development program consists of interactive workshops combined with small group matching and wraparound individualized support.

Ascend.Her Capital Accelerator is one component of the Center’s mission to empower and invest in women entrepreneurs of color by dismantling systemic inequity through economic opportunity. By providing access to affordable capital and funding opportunities, and a full suite of business services, including advisory services, programming, networking opportunities, and cohort-based learning, the Center commits to advancing economic justice for historically underserved communities.


About the Enterprising Women of Color DMV Business Center

The Enterprising Women of Color DMV Business Center (Center) fosters and supports a small business ecosystem for women of color in the National Capital Region. The Center’s robust business services — including financial capital, business advisory services, and networking support — are dedicated to supporting the growth and resiliency of women of color entrepreneurs. This Center is powered by the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif), which has served women entrepreneurs of color since 1987, and is made possible through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). To learn more about the Center, visit https://ewoc.wacif.org.

About the Washington Area Community Investment Fund

The Washignton Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) is one of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area’s leading Community Development FInancial institutions (CDFI) focused on small business development. Wacif’s mission is to increase equity and economic opportunity in underserved communities in the Washington, D.C. area by investing knowledge, social, and financial capital in low-and-moderate-income entrepreneurs. To learn more about Wacif’s mission, visit www.wacif.org.