April Day, President Women's Business Enterprise Alliance
by Suzanne Squyres
In 2013, Houston-based Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance has a couple of new advantages as it pulls forward. One is a new president. April Day became the leader late last year and has already helped the organization take a bold step, which is the second thing the council has going for it: shedding activities that weren’t accomplishing enough and replacing them with more effective ones.
“We have to let go of events that are not creating opportunities for procurement and collaboration,” Day said. “It’s hard to let go of pieces of history. With a goal of maximizing contracting opportunities, we strive to provide tangible events in tandem with purpose-driven activities and initiatives.”
In With the New
She added that offering such events and programs will underscore WBEA as the organization that WBEs rely on to help them grow and succeed. Ideas for achieving this status abound. “This year, we are focusing on increasing business development opportunities for women-owned businesses with regards to corporate and federal contracts, maximizing our political outreach, providing innovating programming and becoming a thought-leader in the small-business arena,” Day explained.
Remaining goals on the year’s wish list include diversifying revenue streams and facilitating the launch of a development plan that enhances WBEA’s capacity to serve its WBEs through strategic partnerships, scholarship and grants.
WBEs also have a list of needs for 2013, according to Day. “According to many of our WBEs, there is a struggle to increase their consumer base, attain funding and access corporate contracts,” she noted. “We are diligent in developing programs and partnerships for optimal fiscal performance of our WBEs.” This year, thanks to a grant from Shell Oil Company, WBEA will provide an Operational Excellence 101 program for WBEs. The free one-day course provides basic information on such topics as operations management and continuous improvement and culminates in a five-day certification course that focuses on improvements in value stream and value delivery models.
In 2013, WBEA affiliated with Kauffman FastTrac®, a global provider of learning programs that equip aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with the business tools and resources to launch and advance their businesses. This affiliation gives WBEA the ability to deliver a 10-week, in-depth training program focused on revitalizing business by developing a strategic plan for growth and revenue diversification. The program is scheduled to launch this summer.
Day is equally excited about the educational funding that WBEA has granted. “With the help of our committed sponsors, we provided over $30,000 in scholarships to WBEs last year,” Day said.
As for securing the health and well-being of WBEA and its effectiveness for WBEs, Day is overseeing a new quality assurance initiative. “Our board of directors has initiated a five-step strategic path for operational excellence,” she stated. “We are building on our core competencies and addressing critical issues impacting WBEs.”