A narrative blog recapping #SaturdaySupport featuring Gloria Ware.
Interviewed by Alysha Ellis, Founder of Mas LaRae
I had the honor of featuring Gloria Ware on #SaturdaySupport a platform created to reposition the limelight on us, the leaders, creators, activists and many others who are having a positive impact on the world. You can learn more about #SaturdaySupport by visiting www.maslarae.com
Gloria, founder of Get The Bag, LLC where she leverages her 25-years in business banking and early-stage investing to help women of color access financial information, financial capital, and social capital needed to grow successful businesses. She is also known as the Chief Rainmaker! Gloria gets down to the bottom line on how to secure the bag. Over the years, Gloria has worked with hundreds of small business owners and non-profits and continues to advise in the fields of inclusive ecosystem building, fundraising, business development and strategy.
During our interview-style conversation on August 8th, 2020 on #SaturdaySupport platform, we began discussing how our roots, culture, and history plays a vital role in shaping our paths. This unique path has led us in the diverse work we both do. It’s by no coincidence that we share common approaches in our collective efforts in dismantling systems and creating solution-driven impact. These approaches include areas such as; women empowerment, increasing equitable opportunities for people of color, and entrepreneurship. (Just to name a few)
Understanding that systemic oppression has capitalized on our most vulnerable communities and acknowledging that this strategy has contributed to the way we view the work ahead of us. These communities have historically been and continue to be communities of color. The same communities Gloria and I call home. With that being said, we believe these experiences from our rich heritage of our ancestors intentionally drives our own passion. It continues to inspire us and moves us in the direction we need to go.
Our conversation encompassed a variety of topics that created an organic and free space to talk through our cultures, women in business, the current and future state of the City of Cleveland, the importance of representation and entrepreneurship. This blog is in a narrative that captures the original conversation feel free to watch and share the video.
What is Get The Bag, LLC?
Get the Bag, LLC is a national community of Black women who are aspiring and current entrepreneurs, motivated, courageous and passionate about becoming more financially informed to start and grow a successful business. For Black women who are aspiring or current entrepreneurs, Get the Bag, LLC helps individuals confidently understand the world of business financing; speak the language of finance and investment; and navigate these capital and social networks to successfully access and secure the funding needed to launch a new venture or take your business to the next level. It’s also a platform to primarily promote and showcase products, services and stories of Black women-owned businesses, but is inclusive of products from entrepreneurs of color and socially responsible companies, as well. To learn more info pertaining to Get The Bag you can visit, www.getthebag.biz
Data shows that having a successful business is a way to significantly increase wealth for our communities (Click Here)
Alysha Ellis (interviewer): Why is it important to have representation in these spaces?
Gloria Ware: The first time I saw Black people that looked like me being successful as business professionals, executives and CEOs, was during my time at The Ohio State University, when I found a copy of Black Enterprise Magazine in the student union. This chance encounter gave me a lot of inspiration and hope that perhaps entrepreneurship could be a pathway to economic and creative freedom for not just only me but also my community. Community building has always been part of my family’s legacy dating back to the 19th century and something that I grew up with. It has taken many forms. This enlightenment has driven my work from a young age on the campus of The Ohio State University and throughout my career in banking and finance. As a banker, I was also an advocate for women of color and entrepreneurs of color. I was always interested in educating business owners on the process for accessing banking capital and for their businesses to be successful. At the time, I didn’t realize that many of the challenges were systemic in nature.
This work has led me to create spaces for women and men of color to share and intentionally connect each other to the necessary resources to be successful. It’s simple, this is for people that want to get the bag!
Hearing from people that look like us, seeing people that look like you, but that also have a true passion for wanting to drive real change, it's very inspiring and motivational. You feel like people are speaking your language and delivering information in a very relevant way. A Nielsen’s Insight report, “African-American Women, Our Science Her Magic” (Click Here)
Eight-four percent of Black women would start a business if they could. Black and Latina women are already the fastest growing groups of women starting businesses, but there's a huge gap of capital and resources. We realize that there is great financial risk associated with starting and growing a successful business. This can lead to wealth but we must have the necessary resources to set us up for success (Click Here).
Alysha: Why is there a need for such a platform like Get The Bag? We need trailblazers like you to lead with what folks call “the elephant in the room,” that work can only be done by us. It can't be done by folks that don't have the experiences or that don’t come from the communities we come from. We're really taking a hold of “creating it for us, by us with us” concept. That is the difference in this specific approach “taking it by the horns''.
Alysha: We’re owning it and making it ours to the point that it essentially reflects us at the core of our being. Our history. Our culture. The alternative has been allowing this type of work to fall on other people's desks and we have seen the outcome of that historically.
Gloria: The Black community is in the same spot that it was 50 years ago. (Read more here) I’m excited to see women of color taking up more space in the world of entrepreneurship, investing, finance, real estate. You’re starting to see the way things work for us. We're starting to see some change and positive momentum.
Gloria: It’s so important for us to see people that look like us who have the same experiences, the same challenges that have broken through. These platforms like “Mas LaRae” and others are creating these platforms to help us move in the next century in the right direction.
Alysha: Why is this work significant in the City of Cleveland? Creating spaces for us that are led and designed by us.
Gloria: We need to have transparent conversations on what we have been doing and what has been working and what hasn't been working. It needs to come from Black women, Latina women, Asian women and people of color period. We need to have more of a presence and visibility at these tables and spaces. Creating spaces that work for us and having tough conversations. Recently an article came out rating Cleveland the worst city for Black women (Read More Here)
Alysha: How do we continue to change the narrative here in Cleveland? I’ve noticed my peers, especially in undergraduate (Cleveland State Univ.) say they're leaving, moving out of Cleveland. We need to continue to increase our retention rates here locally.
Gloria: A lot of people out of the city are investing here. We have amazing features such as the lake access, low living cost, easy access from point a to b, in comparison to other cities and not to mention the amazing people that live and work here. (Read More Here)
We need to make our voices heard on what we need in these spaces. What should economic development look like in our community? How should we be thinking about urban planning across neighborhoods? These are conversations we need to lead. How does this work for us as the people on the ground and in the community? As we see change happening we need to be at the table. Understanding that things have been in place for years and years and we try to make an attempt to change its going to take persistence and it takes awhile. We have to stick to it. We and our future generations are worth the effort!
We often hear leaders say we need to attract more people to Cleveland, yes this is true. At the same time we need to keep the people who live here and make it a great place for them. We don’t want to get into a situation where other people have moved here to benefit from all of the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that we poured into keeping our neighborhoods where they are and keeping our flavor of communities. I know there’s other ways of doing it. These types of platforms along with younger generations are being vocal and active and creating spaces in the leadership community in saying what they want. I see a lot of hope for Cleveland.
Alysha: We need to see an intentional investment in people that have been here generationally. We need uplift and invest in communities that have stuck it out.
Gloria: The events of the last 6-months, I believe, there has been an opening to have these tough conversations. We have to make sure that door stays open. And that we continue to walk in that door and continue to press for the change that is needed.
Alysha: I’ve been seeing a lot more of this within the work that I do. Not just being brought to the table because who built the table. And, who grants permission for us to be there? The whole concept of being at the table is manipulative and controlling. That is not inclusive. I’m seeing more of the community leading the work. And, for us at the organization, we need to get out the way and support and give them the resources to do the work. At the end of the day, that’s the sustainability in the work itself. That’s why Get The Bag is so phenomenal because it’s providing the necessary resources and the educational component on where can I get it to do what I need to do?
Alysha: What can we expect from Get The Bag?
Gloria: Over the next few months is looking to bring in more subject matter experts that look like us to talk with us on specific topics ranging from investing to what you need to do to build up your nest egg to start a business, to getting more contracts and making sure businesses, organizations and governments nationally are investing in communities of color at the kind of levels that will create transformational change. I know many of us are even investing in our own communities. Also, adding more resources and information to the website for users to gain more access.
The chief rain-maker herself Gloria Ware continues to push through barriers, naysayers, and a whole lot of systemic racism to better position us to win and get the bag!
To learn more visit Get The Bag (Click Here)
To view the full interview full (Click Here)
Thank you for tuning in as we reposition the limelight on us! If you or someone you know is having a positive impact on the world and would like to share, connect, and inspire email us at firstname.lastname@example.org