Business tips, support and friendships from programs
The energy in the room is palpable, and you really want to be a part of this. More than 60 women are moving from table to table in a speed networking exercise to help them formulate an “elevator pitch” (a brief description of you and your work) for themselves. And while the final product (the elevator pitch) is a great take-away from this exercise, the real benefit is the fellowship, friendship and camaraderie the participants are building.
Creating the environment for growth
This is HerHub, a membership-based initiative of the group Women of Toledo (WOT) connecting female entrepreneurs with the resources and collaboration they need to grow their businesses. Established in 2014, WOT offers women-focused educational, advocacy and economic empowerment programs, connections, mentoring and networking services. Since its founding, WOT has served 7,775 women and youth through its programs and services, including
- Mentoring – guidance and inspiration to share business tips and general discussions; and mentoring of young women
- Advocacy – leading, supporting and assisting women regarding a range of political, economic and social issues
- Economic Development – providing workplace skills and supporting entrepreneurship through the Business Roundtable Program, Toledo Business Growth Collaborators, the NW Ohio Women’s Business Council, Power Hour Skills & Resources and the HerHub Initiative
“We provide the platform for businesswomen to get together,” explained Nina Corder, WOT managing director. “Our services provide members visibility and bring diverse groups together. You feel like you belong here.” In 2022 alone, WOT has supported 119 mentors and 90 mentees, developed five advocacy awareness programs and offered 57 program sessions and activities.
HerHub was established in 2018, and Corder said that during the pandemic, “the women wanted to get together online. We improved our systems and our visibility, and women really enjoyed the experience. After Covid they were excited to be able to return to luncheons and be together again.” In 2022 HerHub had nearly 200 members.
Donnetta Carter joined WOT about eight years ago and later became a member of HerHub to support her event planning business, The Social Butterfly. She said that networking is what drew her to the group. “We’re a group of like-minded people, and you want to surround yourself with like-minded people,” she explained. Involvement in the group “has impacted my business and given me a chance to promote other people’s businesses. It’s empowering to see how many women in diverse businesses are drawn to this group.”
And then there’s the directory. With women-owned businesses ranging from accounting, business and health care services to home improvement, real estate and event planning, the directory is a resource for all HerHub members. “It’s awesome, and it’s really elevating the women-owned businesses in the community,” said Corder. “We don’t feel like we’re competing here, we’re lifting each other up.”
Busy events schedule
WOT and its initiatives host a variety of networking opportunities throughout the year, including wellness programs, crafting and informational events. HerHub business roundtables are offered online and networking luncheons are every month. The group also presents several special events and activities during the year. Coming up is:
- May 4 – 4-7:30pm, Huntington Center – WE-DO Program Awards – Women’s Entrepreneurial Distinction Ovation Award – presented by the Northwest Ohio Women’s Business Council (a part of WOT), celebrates female entrepreneurs whose successful businesses have contributed to the economic well-being of the community. Awards are presented in the categories of Rising Star, Legend, Second Act, Trailblazer and Thriver. Nominations are being accepted from the community.
Many times, business owners feel alone and challenged by the process of business ownership, said Halina Schriefer, HerHub coordinator. At HerHub, “they don’t feel so alone. Instead, they feel the fellowship and companionship of this group. We’re rooting for you always.”