Growing High Potential Women-Owned Businesses
ATHENAPowerLink® (APL) is a mentoring program designed to increase the growth and profitability of women-owned businesses (WBOs). It provides a unique opportunity for a WBO to be matched with an advisory panel for a 1 year period. This panel of expert volunteers will work with her to meet challenges and seize opportunities critical to her business success. This group may include financial and business advisors, marketing professionals, lawyers, human resource specialists, accountants, and other experts matched to the WBO’s unique needs and goals.
Since 1999, the national ATHENAPowerLink® Program has been helping women-owned businesses expand profitably through the use of professional advisory panels. Our Athena program was launched through the efforts of the Women's Business Connection and South Shore Chamber of Commerce over 10 years ago. The Chamber is the only organization in the entire Northeast to offer this internationally recognized program.
- Your business must be at least 51% owned and actively managed by a woman
- Minimum of two (2) years in operation
- Employ at least two (2) full-time employees
- Present clearly defined business goals and objectives
- Annual revenues of at least $250,000 for retail or manufacturing businesses or at least $100,000 for a service business
What benefits have women experienced by participating in this program?
- 88.5% increase in sales
- 56.6% increase in personal income
- 37.6% increase in net income
- 36.6% increase in employees
How can I apply for the program?
The Athena Governing Body evaluates candidates on an ongoing basis. If you feel you meet the above criteria and would like to take advantage of this valuable program you can apply today by downloading a confidential application available here, or by emailing the Application Committee Chair at Athena@southshorechamber.org.
ATHENAPowerlink® Selection Process
The process is simple!
A woman business owner (WBO) applies to the program by submitting a confidential application to determine eligibility. If the application is accepted, the WBO advances through the selection process, which includes an interview, site visit and needs assessment. If selected for the APL program, a panel of business advisors will be hand-picked that best match the needs, challenges and opportunities facing the WBO.
All financial and personal information is kept strictly confidential throughout the entire process. When a WBO is accepted into the program she can choose to give permission to publicize her participation in the ATHENAPowerLink® program, or remain anonymous.
Once a business owner is accepted and an Advisory Panel is assigned and approved by the WBO, the group is introduced to one another and trained. The Panel Coordinator is the point person for the WBO and assists in the process and coordination of the panel’s efforts.
The WBO should:
- Be willing to openly discuss with the Advisory Panel her goals for the business and the issues impacting her ability to reach those goals.
- Provide a meeting agenda and appropriate materials for the Panel to review like, financial statements, business plan, etc.
- Indentify specific company difficulties requiring advice for the Advisory Panel.
- Accept or reject Panel Members’ advice.
What does the program cost?
Surprisingly little for a program that provides tens of thousands of dollars worth of professional advice. The program is available for the small fee of $250.00 upon acceptance. There are no costs to apply. If accepted, you must be a member of the SSCC to proceed.
WBO Advisory Panel Conclusion
At the end of the year the Panel celebrates their success and reviews the process. Surveys from the ATHENAPowerLink® National Program are provided and participants are requested to complete them. Also at this point, the WBO has a sound process in place to grow her business and very often will put together her own Advisory Board to continue participating in this valuable business experience.
Are there other ways to be involved in the program?
The Governing Body is a dedicated leadership team comprised of experienced professionals that manage and oversee the APL program. We are continually seeking referrals and nominations for Governing Body members from the South Shore business community. Both men and women are welcome to serve. Meet the Governing Body.
The program also utilizes top business professionals on its Advisory Panels. Each panel consists of a group of SSCC business professionals who want to give back to their community. They work one-on-one with the WBO for a period of one year, at no charge. They listen and advise the WBO to help her develop and implement strategic goals, business and marketing plans or deal with unexpected issues that arise throughout the year. The group’s Coordinator leads the meetings, reviews the progress and compiles results
As panel members are selected to match to the unique goals and needs of the individual business owner, we have many categories to fill and some that can’t be anticipated until the WBO and her business have been carefully evaluated. Some of the more common needs are: human resources, finance, accounting, lawyers, executive coaches, insurance agents and marketing specialists.
Being on the Advisory Panel is a rewarding experience for both the woman business owner and the panel member. Panel members should demonstrate competencies in the areas that the Governing Body believes are most important to the success and growth of the woman’s business. Potential Advisory Panel members are hand selected to meet the unique needs of each candidate and should meet the following criteria:
- Expertise in their field
- Commitment to six formal meetings and additional one-on-one meetings with the WBO
- Flexibity and fairness
- The ability to inspire confidence in others
- Provide advice patiently, effectively and convincingly and remain positive
- Build and maintain a positive rapport with diverse styles of people
- Impart knowledge about their field of expertise in an accessible, practical manner
If you are interested in volunteering please contact us at: Athena@southshorechamber.org
South Shore Chamber ATHENA PowerLink® Graduates
South Shore Chamber ATHENA PowerLink® Graduate Testimonials