Winrock International

Winrock International is a nonprofit organization that works with people in the United States and around the world to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources. Winrock matches innovative approaches in agriculture, natural resources management, clean energy and leadership development with the unique needs of its partners. By linking local individuals and communities with new ideas and technology, Winrock is increasing long-term productivity, equity and responsible resource management to benefit the poor and disadvantaged of the world.
Nov 10, 2016

AWBC Client Honored with Small Business Award

AWBC Client LaQuita with AWBC Director Liz Young
AWBC Client LaQuita with AWBC Director Liz Young

Arkansas Women’s Business Center (AWBC) client LaQuita won the first annual Spirit of South Arkansas Small Business Awards for Best Minority Owned Business in October 2016. Her 100% woman-owned, minority-owned business, Complete Home Care (CHC), was nominated and voted on by citizens of Union County. CHC provides 24 hour medical and non-medical support services delivered to the homes of seniors. CHC won in a landslide, beating   4 other well-known businesses in their category..

AWBC Director Liz Young said, “The AWBC is honored to have assisted LaQuita with this business endeavor over the last four years by providing continued one-on-one business counseling to help with employee management, business accounting, cash flow management, and other business needs.”

LaQuita first found the Center through a six-week training course the AWBC hosted called Operation Jump Start. She completed 12 training sessions, put together a business feasibility plan for her then 3-year old business, and competed in a business plan competition with her final plan. LaQuita was not new to entrepreneurship, running several other small business operations already. One of her other successful businesses turns 20 years old this year. After completing the training, she realized her need for further assistance, and became a client for one-on-one business consulting.

LaQuita is grateful of her support from AWBC and said the best thing about their services is that “the AWBC is there and has always been available when I need them. They offer a variety of services that I would not otherwise be able to afford, including marketing expertise, accounting expertise, and other services they have provided me as a resources.”

LaQuita is an excellent example of how consistent AWBC assistance can improve small business success, particularly for women-owned businesses. AWBC is still assisting LaQuita with Complete Home Care while also looking at new potential start-up business opportunities, and looks forward to helping her businesses grow and thrive. 

State Representative with Small Bus. Award Winners
State Representative with Small Bus. Award Winners
Sep 30, 2016

Scholarship for Women in Agricultural Extension

The lack of female agricultural extension agents may be the greatest barrier to increasing food production in Africa. Female farmers produce 70% of Africa’s food. Female farmers need access to extension agents who can provide education and resources to increase food production. Unfortunately, in many African cultures, there is no communication between male extension agents and female farmers. Consequently, only 5% of rural women receive agriculture extension services.

The Christopher Dowswell Scholarship fund meets this challenge by supporting mid-career female farmers who are enrolled in agricultural extension and communication programs. The Fund is managed by Winrock International who collaborates closely with the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education Program (SAFE). The SAFE program improves the capacity of agricultural advisory services in Africa.

Thanks to your generosity, 33 scholars have received support. To date, 10 have successfully completed their degree and 4 are expected to complete their degree in the next quarter. 19 students are actively working toward graduation.

Your continued support is highly appreciated and will make it possible for Winrock to increase the number of scholarship awards.

Aug 11, 2016

'Real Life' Entrepreneurs

Youth Entrepreneur Leighton with her apparel line
Youth Entrepreneur Leighton with her apparel line

The Arkansas Women’s Business Center is gearing up for another successful Mistletoe Market, our annual shopping event that showcases over 65 vendors in the ArkLaTex region. This is a great opportunity for small businesses to boost their sales during the holiday season. AWBC staff members enjoy getting to know each entrepreneur and by the end of the event we often feel like family. This year we have a new vendor, Real Life Apparel, with a unique story of how a high school youth’s entrepreneurial idea was born. Here’s Leighton’s story:

My daughter, Leighton, has always had an obsession with t-shirts; therefore, she thought it only made sense for us to create our own t-shirt brand.  I explained to her how difficult it is to have one’s own business and how much time is required, but she was not deterred.  In August of last year, my heart was changed by these words: “Mom, it’s my last year at home and I just want us to do this together.” 

Our life had also taken a significant turn, in that I found myself a single mom of three after being a homemaker and homeschool mom for the last 18 years.  The option of returning to the workforce did not prove to provide the income we needed.  So after much prayer our family of four — Leighton, 17; Reece, 15; and Shepherd, 8, decided to go for it! 

Our dear friend Suzanne, who is a graphic designer, immediately joined the team and amazingly turned the ideas in our head into magic. Our family, church family and friends began to buy and promote our brand and within four months, Real Life Apparel was available in over 30 stores.

As we brainstormed for a name for our brand, we contemplated how life had taken a difficult turn and had not turned out at all how we had hoped or imagined it would. But frankly, that’s life.  Real Life.  Real Life is not a movie on a screen or a play with a script or a fantasy novel with a predicted happy ending; many times it’s hard and unfair. Real Life Apparel celebrates life right where it is, not wasting days hoping for or living for dramatic events, but cherishing the thousands of little moments and the people that make life precious.

The kids and I are blessed and humbled by all the love and support that we have been given over the last year and the awesome opportunities God has given us.

Leighton works very hard developing and promoting Real Life Apparel as she attends Arkansas Tech University to pursue a business degree.  Reece is developing a professional line of clothing, which is known as Real Life Gentlemen.

 
   

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