Portraits of Leadership

The WELL Confronts COVID-19

Hyperakt’s new interview series hands the mic to nonprofit and cultural leaders around the nation as they guide their organizations through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today we’re talking with Nakeia Drummond, Founder of The Women Entrepreneur Leadership Lab. The WELL facilitates the growth of black-women-owned businesses by fostering community, collaboration, and confidence.

From your vantage point, what stories are not being told about the impact of the Coronavirus?

This is unfortunately a familiar narrative in the black community; but, in the mainstream maybe not so much. We clearly don’t have adequate representation in decision making spaces specifically in small business. Black women in particular knew right away before any money was released that the rules would shut most of us out. 97% of black women business owners don’t have employees. And yet, these businesses still contributed $64+ billion to the economy in 2019.

Because we are accustomed to having to make a way for ourselves, black women business owners are doing just that. Finding new ways to make it work.

And, I bet the numbers of black women starting businesses will grow exponentially because of COVID-19. We are the group most likely to start a business due to unemployment or underemployment.

How have you needed to change how your staff works or the way you deliver services in order to meet the new reality?

We have had to shift our community completely online. Our model is one of high touch and recognition of the power of and need for people to gather and connect in person. But without the ability to do that, we now host some type of weekly forum online. And, while it’s better than nothing, our members really miss being together and most of us are suffering from technology fatigue.

What gives you hope in this moment?

Seeing some of our smallest businesses, especially product-based ones experience major growth has been so inspiring! But more than that, I believe there is a season for everything and I take hope in the belief that this season has offered us the opportunity to slow down so that we could gain greater clarity, move through, and rise even higher.

Explore The WELL’s work at TheWellNetwork.us and on Instagram, and read more interviews in the Portraits of Leadership series.

Hyperakt is a purpose-driven design and innovation studio that elevates human dignity and ignites curiosity. We believe in design’s power to build a future filled with courage, optimism, and honesty.

Are you a leader in the nonprofit, cultural, or design space? Want to share your perspective on confronting COVID-19? Please fill out this Google Form.

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