Published on October 24, 2018 by Sara Roman  

Orlean Beeson School of Education and Brock School of Business joined more than 160 universities and colleges, spanning across 32 countries and six continents, in celebrating Women Entrepreneurship Week from Oct.13-19. 

Throughout the week, commemoration took place across the globe to recognize female entrepreneurs and inspire the next generation of female leaders. Samford University was one of two institutions in Alabama who recognized the event.

“If we are going to transform the climate of female entrepreneurship, it is vital that we grant students the opportunity to connect with women in business and hear detailed accounts of their experiences,” said Monique Gardner-Witherspoon, Orlean Beeson School of Education assistant dean. “During the celebrations we sought to put a spotlight on women who we believe would serve as strong role models for students. Women directly contribute to the development of our communities and it is imperative that we ensure our students feel empowered to be part of that contribution.”

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report for Women 2016-17 reports that the number of women who aspire to start their own business rivals the number of men interested in entrepreneurship. However, the report found that the actual number of entrepreneurial women was much lower than that of men.

Throughout the week, Orlean Beeson School of Education celebrated alumna entrepreneurs on social media by highlighting their accomplishments and sharing their advice. On Thursday, the education school further recognized the celebratory week with a panel discussion and Q&A featuring education graduates and entrepreneurs Jewel Littleton-Williams ’05, ’10, founder of Learning Little People, LLC; Kathy Acton ’80, founder of Kathy Acton Photography; and Lindy Cleveland ’14, founder of Unless U. Gardner-Witherspoon facilitated the event discussion.

Brock School of Business hosted five female business leaders to commemorate the national week of celebration and embolden students. Deborah Lechner, president and founder of ErgoScience; Alice G. Holloway, chief executive officer and founder of Skye Connect Incorporated; Liz Ballard, vice president of client strategy for INFLCR; Sydney Murphy ’18, chief executive officer of Integrated Holdings LLC; and Dian Seyler, Great Clips franchise owner, visited various business classes throughout the week to share their knowledge and experience in growing a business. 

“We were excited to partner with Orlean Beeson School of Education to celebrate Women Entrepreneurship Week for the first time at Samford,” said Chad Carson, Brock School of Business associate dean and Brock family chair in entrepreneurship. “My great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and sister were, and still are, entrepreneurs. I believe this is because they had an example of what that achievement could look like from their mother. Our female students have benefited this week from that same modeling. They have seen and heard great examples of entrepreneurial success.”

Brock School of Business offers a major in entrepreneurship as well as a concentration in social entrepreneurship. Minors for nonbusiness majors are offered in entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship.

Additionally, Cooney Hall, home of Brock School of Business, houses a student incubator that provides student entrepreneurs with a place to run their business. The incubator affords students the opportunity to start a business by removing large startup costs from the equation. Murphy, one of this week’s speakers, and her partners used this space to launch their startup.

“We are proud to highlight the many avenues in which our students can fulfill their callings; the possibilities are endless,” said Gardner-Witherspoon. “This week of events allowed numerous opportunities for students to yield detailed advice on starting business across a broad base of fields and locations. We are grateful to the community members and alumnae who shared their experiences, successes and challenges in creating, building and sustaining a business with our students.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.