Central Exchange’s InnovateHER Competition Open to Unique Businesses Serving Women

March 18, 2015 - KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI

A national business competition designed to spotlight products and services that empower the lives of women and families will be held this month through Central Exchange and the Women’s Empowerment (WE) program of Mayor Sly James.

Applications will be accepted until Tuesday, March 24, for the SBA’s 2015 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge. A llnk to the application can be found at http://www.centralexchange.org/

One local winner will be forwarded to the SBA for a chance to present its case in Washington, D.C., on May 8 during Small Business Week and compete for a cash prize.

“InnovateHER is exactly the kind of program that supports the objectives of WE and its goal of empowering women on the job and in the community,” James said. “I’m grateful to Central Exchange for organizing the local competition.”

CiCi Rojas, President and CEO of Central Exchange, said that as demands on women grow, the need for products and services that support them increases.

“InnovateHER will help the community identify local businesses that are addressing the challenges of women in the marketplace, and in life,” Rojas said. “I’m know we’ll learn about some very exciting Kansas City businesses, or business ideas, that are flying below the radar. This is a great program for that entrepreneur that wants to showcase or introduce a business or business idea.”

Applicants can be men or women, but entries must be a potential or existing commercial product or service that fills a marketplace need related to challenges facing women. Each entry must contain a business plan.

Examples include ideas like an online list of approved babysitters, or a business that delivers fresh ingredients to homes along with a recipe for an easily cooked dinner, the SBA says. Products might be electronic devices that complement a woman’s professional work attire.

“I know there are businesses all over Kansas City that have products or services that change women’s lives,” Rojas said. “Given the very high level of Kansas City’s entrepreneurial energy, I’m confident we’ll be forwarding a very competitive semifinalist to the SBA.”

An SBA executive committee will choose 10 finalists to present their cases to a panel of private sector judges, who in turn will choose three entries to receive prize money totaling $30,000.

The Kansas City competition will be held from 2-4 p.m. on Monday, March 30, at Central Exchange’s location in downtown Kansas City.

Women’s Empowerment, the first initiative of its kind in the nation, was launched last October in collaboration between the Mayor’s Office, Central Exchange, the Women’s Foundation and the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s Women’s Center. The overall goals of WE are to ensure the City of Kansas City, Missouri, is an inclusive, diverse organization that supports women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. A blueprint of data-driven, research-based action items was unveiled last March and in just one year, every single action item of the blueprint has either been completed or is in progress.

Note to editors and reporters: More information and a link to the Kansas City InnovateHER applilcation can  be found at http://www.centralexchange.org/. Media with questions about InnovateHER may call Jeanie Brewster of Central Exchange at 501-514-1391. More about the Womens Empowerment Initiative can be found at http://kcmayor.org/WE.

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Contact: Michael Grimaldi: 816-513-6579 or cell: 816-945-2902