Release Date: June 17, 2016
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Jennifer Russell, owner of Buffalo Canvas, has been named Protégé of the Year by the Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs (MWEE) program, a joint venture by the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) and the UB Center for Urban Studies.
Russell earned a $1,500 prize for the honor. She says the MWEE program put every aspect of her business into perspective.
“It’s given me the confidence to get in front of people, give more presentations and look for investors,” says Russell. “It’s made my business feel like it’s really legit and that the sky’s the limit.”
Jarael Adams, owner of Paint the Town, was awarded second place and a $1,000 prize. Jocelyn Guthrie, owner of JBS Health, took third place and a $500 prize.
The awards were handed out at a graduation ceremony for five CEL programs on June 1 at UB’s Center for the Arts.
Sponsored by The Allstate Foundation, the MWEE program helps minority and women entrepreneurs take their companies to the next stage of development with business development seminars twice a month, networking events and one-on-one mentoring.
After entering as protégés last year, 31 participants graduated, bringing the total number of local entrepreneurs who have completed the MWEE program to 227 since it launched in 2004.
The graduates were:
Each participant was assigned a mentor from the local business community to help devise realistic business goals and develop timetables and strategies for achieving them. Mentors met regularly with participants, providing advice in strategic and tactical thinking, marketing, long-range financial planning and more.
Paul Buckley, president of Applied Sciences Group Inc., was honored as Mentor of the Year. He says he serves as a mentor to give back to the CEL community.
“I’m not there to provide advice — I’m there to probe and get them to answer their own questions,” says Buckley. “When there’s an issue, I try to ask the right questions to determine if it’s the issue that is important or if it’s a symptom of a larger problem.”
The CEL is accepting applications for the 2017 MWEE program. To be eligible, an entrepreneur must be a woman or member of a recognized minority group and own a business in the Buffalo Niagara region.
Individuals interested in the program can learn more about the curriculum and speak candidly with MWEE alumni at an open house at 8:30 a.m. July 27 at the UB Educational Opportunity center, located at 555 Ellicott St., Buffalo. To register for the open house or apply, contact the CEL at 716-885-5715 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Allstate Foundation, a charitable organization funded by subsidiaries of Allstate Insurance Corp., provides philanthropic grants to nonprofit organizations. With a focus on teen safe driving and building financial independence for domestic violence survivors, The Allstate Foundation also promotes safe and vital communities; tolerance, inclusion and diversity; and economic empowerment. For more information, visit allstatefoundation.org.
Established in 1987, the CEL provides participants with individualized and interactive education in entrepreneurship. More than 1,300 CEL alumni employ more than 22,000 Western New Yorkers, and their businesses are worth more than $2 billion to the local economy. For more information, visit mgt.buffalo.edu/cel.