Entrepreneurial Connections is a mentorship program created by NAWBO San Antonio to encourage young women to explore entrepreneurship as a means to financial independence and career satisfaction. Through the NAWBO San Antonio Foundation, thousands of dollars in scholarships are awarded to area teen women who participate in Entrepreneurial Connections.
As a collaborative effort between NAWBO-SA members, school representatives and administrators, community leaders, university and corporate sponsors, EC reaches hundreds of teen women in under-served high schools in San Antonio and exposes them to successful women business owners who model that the entrepreneurial dream is possible!
The six-month Entrepreneurial Connections program includes:
Participants in the program have an opportunity to win a scholarship toward college tuition, with a total of $20,500 in scholarships awarded to 6 winners.
Little did members of the San Antonio Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners® know that what started as a one-day conference to mentor high school teen women would become a six-month program. In 1999, Lynn Weirich and Dixie Kingston, both past NAWBO Presidents and founders of the San Antonio Chapter, launched the entrepreneurial conference “Entrepreneurial Connections”.
In the first year of the program, Chapter members realized they wanted the high school teens and school staff to experience more than just the one-day conference. Through her mentoring experience Lynn Weirich also saw a need to open students’ minds to entrepreneurship possibilities. The idea was to bring young teen women together with women business owners through fun, interactive events known as Business Connections, through mentoring sessions with the teens at their schools and through a venue whereby the teens could earn college scholarships. From a pilot program developed at Business Careers High School over 15 years ago, Chapter members have remained committed to growing the Entrepreneurial Connections® program.
Since the program began, over 2,100 freshmen through senior high school teen women from nearly thirty different schools have participated. Students have received over $258,000 in college scholarships and awards such as entrepreneur camp tuition, computers, printers and other items. The majority of the students come from diverse ethnic backgrounds, attend schools that are in the enterprise zone of San Antonio, and are considered part of an under-served, high-need population.
The 2017-2018 Schedule of Events describes the specific events in the program, including a minimum of six months of entrepreneurial and mentoring programs designed to encourage young women to stay in school, to help them see business ownership as a viable career choice, and to introduce them to a variety of industries and careers.
To participate, students write essays in which they describe their future goals and why they want to become entrepreneurs. Throughout the year, the young women attend networking events, mentoring sessions in the schools, a Business Plan training session, and an all-day entrepreneurial conference. In the spring participants may submit a business plan in a competition for college scholarships and prizes. The six winning students are awarded college scholarships totaling $20,500.
Texas A&M University San Antonio is partnering with Entrepreneurial Connections for the 2017-2018 year. They will provide information to the teen women at the one day conference about attending the university and feel that getting the teen women on their campus is a huge step forward toward college attendance.
Program Scholarships and Costs for Student Participation
NAWBO-SA must raise approximately $125 for each teen woman to participate in the Entrepreneurial Connections conference, with an estimated 130 attendees. The additional cost for each young woman to participate in the rest of the activities during the year is about $250 per student. In addition to program costs, we are committed to awarding college scholarships annually for a total of $20,500:
First Place - $10,000, Second Place - $5,000, Third Place - $2,500, and Honorable Mention - three awards of $1,000 each, raised from sponsorships.
Additional funds raised support all activities of Entrepreneurial Connections throughout the program year.
NAWBO-SA is a volunteer organization whose members give their time and commitment to support Entrepreneurial Connections. Texas A&M University San Antonio, as university sponsor, commits to providing the venue for the one-day conference. While we rely on corporate partner and member sponsorships as our main source of funding for the program, many local businesses support Entrepreneurial Connections through cash donations and other prizes. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on sponsorships and/or volunteer opportunities. NAWBO-SA would welcome YOUR support.
2017-2018 Director: Dina Petrutsas
2017-2018 Special Events Administrator: Graciela Urruchua