Nichole Jackson has always wanted to open her own business. For many years, she worked in education, but when the private high school she was principal at closed, she decided to explore her options. Two years ago, she opened Bronzeville Wingz on 43rd and Michigan Avenue.
"We had no experience in the restaurant industry, and then on top of that, here comes the pandemic right in the heart of the opening. So, it’s been challenging to say the least," said Jackson.
She admits to making a few mistakes along the way, but despite the challenges, Jackson saw an increase in sales during her second year in business.
Even so, someone suggested she reach out to the YWCA to apply for their Women of Color Accelerator Program. The program is powered by DePaul University’s Women in Entrepreneurship Institute, which is run by Abigail Ingram.
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"I can tell you right now 2.2 percent of venture capital funding goes to women. The number of women of color is much, much smaller," Ingram said. "Our program steps in, not only to provide the resources, but also to provide access to those networks and to really help women start getting a foothold so that their businesses can grow."
Jackson said she has already learned a great deal, adding, “I didn’t understand what it meant to create projections from Year One to Year Three to Year Five, and so I was able to go to a lot of workshops with women who not only started businesses but have grown them into million-dollar businesses."
Jackson is also learning about marketing, and is working on a new logo.
"I think the most rewarding part is being an owner-operator in the community where I was born and raised and currently reside," she said, "and also being able to give back to my community."
Applications are now being taken for WEI’s Business Accelerator Program. You can apply here.