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BGV Connect Members Neferteri & Benita: Collaboration Is An Integral Part Of Business

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

There's this African proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Black and Brown women in business already have obstacles stacked up against them. Whether it's limited funding, limited access to mentors, and often not having the privilege of time to be able to go full throttle in their businesses because they're juggling multiple demands in their lives. It's a no brainer that the fastest way to achieve your goals is to collaborate. And it's time for more Black and Brown women to see each other not as competitors but as collaborators.

The preservation of Black and Brown businesses rely on collaboration to cut through the entrepreneurship ecosystem quickly and more powerfully. Furthermore, sharing resources, sharing time, sharing costs alleviates the pressure of having to do it all by yourself. One of the goals of the BGV Connect Incubator platforms is to foster collaboration by creating the space for women to connect, collaborate on ideas so they can continue to propel their businesses (and themselves) forward.

Benita & Neferteri are both members of the BGV Connect Incubator, and so we asked them a few questions about collaboration.

Benita Gordon

Benita is the creator of GGEC Academy a K-12 virtual school and founder of the Global Education Concierge. As an educator, she is helping parents and anyone else who is attempting to navigate the educational sector. Benita provides consulting, coaching, collaborating, connecting, and IEP (individual education plans) while helping parents choose the best type of schools while also providing parent education. She is launching a virtual home school that provides wrap-around service, focuses on the arts, and on social-emotional, parenting education. Benita is also the podcast host of Educational Concierge.

Why is collaboration essential in business?

Collaboration is vital in business because as a logistical minded person and entrepreneur, we have to connect and delegate. Wisdom is acknowledging that I don't and can't do everything and then building a team around me that can support the mission and drive and the use of their skill set. We also have to collaborate to push each other in business, give ideas, grow, and support. When we can collaborate, we move the number of female entrepreneurs gaining more capital, raising awareness or our businesses, and ensuring that we become not just invited to the table, but that we set up our own tables!

What barriers have you seen when it comes to collaboration?

The only barriers I have seen that has been consistent is located in other businesses. Once I connected, we were able to connect and gauge how or if we needed to collaborate. Sometimes collaboration is really just saying, wait, I know a person that can do that.

What's a myth about collaboration in the Black & Brown community?

That we don't work well together, that our work or quality of work is subpar. That is not true! I have also to say that the myth the money is not out there is not true, but it is access to the capital and how to acquire the contracts, etc. has not always been as open to us. That is why the BGV chapters and BGV Connect is essential to our community.

What are you collaborating on? What have been the outcomes so far, and what benefits have you seen?

I am collaborating with Neferteri Strickland, BGV Philly, on Design to Disrupt, focusing on the Education system in America/Philadelphia and beyond. I am collaborating with Lisa Wilkinson, BGV Miami/305. We are developing a session on Social Emotional Learning for Parents and Kids focusing on school opening/back to school and then a few more. The outcomes have been making other connections for our personal businesses. But also the sharing and discussion of how to take our thoughts to action in our communities. I also work with just staying connected in BGV Connect and love assisting with podcasting, social media, and education!

In which ways has BGV helped to eliminate those barriers, and how has being a part of the BGV Connect Incubator community made collaboration a bit easier?

The BGV Connect has made it easier because we come in here ready to work, to better ourselves, to focus, to learn, and grow. There is no drama, this is not your typical platform we are about the business, celebrating, sharing, encouraging, and training and assisting. The BGV connector keeps up abreast of options that we have been looking for, but now it is under one room or one section of BGV Connect.

Neferteri Strickland

Neferteri's venture was started because of her involvement with BGV. She is the founder of Teachers And that looks to provide the Pennsylvania industry with where she brings world-class educational talent focusing on STEM education.

She is also the host of The Third Lieutenant Podcast. A podcast that focuses on the role that higher education plays in the journey of United States military service-members. Men and women in uniform travel a path in academia that often looks different from their civilian counterparts that require a special type of navigation. Hear how the skills and experience in uniform prepares service members to meet the demands of academia and beyond.

Meeting Benita was the perfect match for Neferteri, where they believe they can provide solutions to the marketplace.

Why is collaboration essential in business?

Collaboration is an integral part of a business because there's something in me that prompted me to get into the small business space and entrepreneurial space and that one thing takes a whole infrastructure to be able to execute. Because I don't want to be the jack of all trades, master of none collaboration allows me to leverage the strength of others. But focusing on that thing that my business is sent to do. There's something in me to prompted to get in the small business, takes a full infrastructure to execute, jack of all trades master of none, master the strengths of others.

What barriers have you seen when it comes to collaboration?

The barriers that I have experienced and seen when it comes to collaboration is everyone's in a different place. Whether they're prepared to actually plan and execute that collaboration. Some people are just in their research mode, so you'll give them 15, 30 minutes an hour of your time thinking that they're in the same place that you are come to find out, you feel unfulfilled. Collaboration is a numbers game. Go through enough of those introductory conversations, and you'll find the right partner.

What's a myth about collaboration in the Black & Brown community?

There's this myth about the Black and Brown community that can't get along. I think that's the one that sticks out the most for me, and my time with Black Girl Ventures has proven that to be wrong, it's proving that to be false and I'm glad that I gave it a chance because I have found sisterhood. I'm really happy to have that.

What are you collaborating on? What have been the outcomes so far, and what benefits have you seen?

So we are collaborating on a series of talks called Design To Disrupt. It's focused on education. We started as a 3 session talk series that is aimed at unifying pre-k through 12 education stakeholders. This is in response to the impact on COVID-19 on traditional public school education, so we brought together educators, student's parents, and community members to discuss how we can all collectively respond to the calls to action to overcome the challenges created by the hybrid learning models from COVID-19. These sessions are designed to reflect and ideate about how we can work together to fight for equity and equality. So, we want to identify ways to better support educators of color and educators of students of color.

The second talk was adapting communication to leverage community learning. That's what the collaborations are about. Nobody knows a clear way ahead, so leveraging those strengths that each other has. It takes a village.

It's really where we are right now, and we're planning for the third talk in that series that applies to any market, any city, and any district. We plan to have more dialogue, more courses of action towards a plan, we're planning a third talk in that series. Another collaboration we have is with a mother-daughter team that created Mixtroz, a Zoom competitor that allows engagement in a virtual environment.

In which ways has BGV helped to eliminate those barriers, and how has being a part of the BGV Connect Incubator community made collaboration a bit easier?

So, BGV has helped eliminate the barriers of collaboration by fostering a community and by creating the conditions for collaborations, not forcing anything, but if you want it, it's there. If you just want to be a fly on the wall and observe, you can do that too. With a focused approach to the areas of business that every entrepreneur or small business owner of color is going to meet, it's there.

There are triggers that I've seen in the community that says if you need mentorship here's a resource if you need something in the space of finance, here's a resource. There's also like a collaborative session. I believe it's once a week where you can go to a virtual co-working space, so if you needed something that you didn't see, it's there. Just reach out and grab it.

BGV makes collaborations easier by attracting women of color who are at different levels In entrepreneurship and encouraging us to be a mentor and have a mentor in that space. There's a lot that we learn from me each other, not necessarily by selling just simply sharing what we're doing. It gives you a sense of the feeling that you're not alone.

These stories are testaments to you don't have to go at it alone and there is support, but it's up to you to take the first step.

To connect with Benita you can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. To connect with Neferteri you can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Subscribe to the Digital Orange Juice for juicy ideas and the people who fund them. You can find out about our next pitch competitions here. Also, be sure to join our new community BGV Connect!

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