Her Corner offers 'accelerator' program for women business owners

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Marketing for Her Corner, a program for established businesses owned by women. A chapter is opening in Philadelphia.

Her Corner is looking for women business owners who want to boost their bottom line. Its first six-month accelerator program in Philadelphia begins Sept. 15 at Benjamin’s Desk, 1608 Walnut St., and applications for future programs are being taken at www.HerCorner.org.

Unlike an incubator, which helps innovators get their ideas off the ground, an accelerator is suitable for more mature businesses and aims to help ramp up their growth.

Accelerators also tend to enroll business owners in months-long programs that offer mentorship, office space, and supply-chain resources, with the idea that those entrepreneurs “graduate.” So the programs are time-sensitive and intense. Wharton, for example, has a four-month accelerator for its students called VIP-Xcelerate.

Her Corner is meeting with and recruiting Philadelphia-area women business owners, as well as networking groups such as NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), to get a better sense of the city as it launches a chapter here.

Founder Frederique Irwin and president Kimberly Berger started Her Corner in 2011 in Washington. Philadelphia is the first offshoot of that effort.

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HerCorner founder Frederique Irwin.

“Already, we’ve started bridging the two cities by making strategic introductions to women. They’ve started doing business in both cities,” said Irwin, who is also an adjunct professor at American University.

Women business owners are invited to meet Irwin and Berger for coffee and conversation Wednesday and Sept. 20 at Le Pain Quotidien in Wayne. The events are free, but registration is required at www.HerCorner.org/philadelphia.

“There are more than 11 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. generating nearly $2 trillion in revenues as of 2016,” Irwin said. “We want women to know they have a resource in Her Corner, to help them with whatever it takes to grow their business.”

Currently, Her Corner is a community of about 800 women business owners. Benjamin’s Desk will host the six-month accelerator sessions here, and the nine women chosen to participate will get free use of Benjamin’s Desk facilities for six months.

A first meeting with Jennifer Maher, cofounder and co-CEO of Benjamin’s Desk, turned into a collaboration.

“We’ve been looking for educational programming like this for a long time for our members,” said Maher. “We are very excited about this partnership.”

Her Corner’s initial membership fee of $99 will be waived for NAWBO members in Philadelphia. The accelerator program costs $499 monthly, or $699 with additional monthly private coaching.

Business owner Brooke Forry of Media has registered for Her Corner’s accelerator program. She cofounded Curious & Co. Creative, a boutique design firm, about seven years ago. She had tried groups like BNI and speed networking for several years, but “it wasn’t a good fit. It just wasn’t working for us.”

“We’ve reached a point now that we’re all feeling more established. And it’s time to take it to the next level,” Forry said. “We’re ready to bring on a junior designer, help with the workload. That’s where Her Corner comes in — really, we’re designers by trade and business owners by accident. I need a little business know-how.

“It felt like the group I’ve been needing, particularly since we’ve been in business for a few years,” said Forry, who will be a founding member of the Philadelphia chapter.

Her Corner joins a growing list of Philadelphia networking groups for women, such as the Forum of Executive Women, the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs, and NAWBO. In addition, women can visit the nonprofit Women’s Opportunity Resource Center (www.worc-pa.org) for workshops on starting businesses from the ground up.

A new mutual fund

Bryn Mawr Bank Corp., parent of Bryn Mawr Trust, has formed a new subsidiary, BMT Investment Advisers, and last week it launched its first Securities and Exchange Commission-registered mutual fund, the BMT Multi-Cap Fund (BMTMX).

The fund’s minimum to invest is $25,000. BMT Investment Advisers’ Ernest Cecilia, chief investment officer, and Andrew Keefer, director of equity research, will act as the portfolio managers responsible for day-to-day management.

The goal is to raise $100 million initially, according to Stephen Wellman, chief operating officer of BMT’s Wealth Division, who said, “We’ll be evaluating whether other of our strategies will be offered in a mutual fund.”

The fund’s fee will be 1 percent of assets annually. A prospectus can be found at BMTC.com on its “Wealth management” page under “Mutual fund offering.”