Businesses are selected from a field of applicants by a governing body made up of volunteer community members. Once the specific needs are determined the local program recruits local professionals in relevant fields to provide the necessary guidance. The business owner is then paired with a volunteer board of advisors that is tailored to fit the company’s needs.
- Business must be at least 51% owned and actively managed by a woman.
- Minimum of two (2) years in operation.
- Minimum of the equivalent of two (2) full-time employees (including the owner).
- Annual revenues of at least $250,000 for retail or manufacturing businesses.
- Annual revenues of at least $100,000 for service businesses.
- Clearly defined company objectives/goals with explicit reasons for seeking ATHENAPowerLink's® assistance in meeting those objectives/goals.
To apply, contact your local panel administrator. To view the list of active program communities, click here. If there is not a program in your area, consider being the catalyst for implementing ATHENAPowerLink®.
On average, women business owners participating in the ATHENAPowerLink program see the following outcomes:
- 88 percent increase in sales;
- 37 percent increase in business net income;
- 56 percent increase in personal income;
- 36 percent increase in the number of full-time employees
- 75 percent increase in the number of part-time employees
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To implement the program, a partnership is formed between ATHENA International and a group of local partners who commit to supporting the operation of the program. In each community, the sponsoring organization, the program principal and the governing body work to assure that ATHENAPowerLink® will have the necessary financial and human resources to implement and maintain the program.
For a one-time license fee, ATHENA International provides communities with a turnkey operation. In addition to materials, new communities receive a site visit and training session. Once communities are up and running, ATHENA International continues to provide support and material updates.
- ATHENA International - exclusively offering ATHENAPowerLink® as a turnkey program with on-going support.
- Program Principal - the local organization hosting ATHENAPowerLink®.
- Sponsor - one or more local organizations that contribute financially to locate and support a program in the community.
- Governing Body - an interested group of individuals who oversee the ATHENAPowerLink® program in their community.
- Woman Business Owner - must be a majority owner and active manager of her company and meet the minimum requirements.
- Board of Advisors - a group of professionals targeted to meet the needs of each specific woman business owner and who agree to work with the business owner on an unpaid basis for one year.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the program cost?
- ATHENA International offers the ATHENAPowerLink® Program for a license fee of $5,000. This can be paid in full at the outset, or $5,000 in year one and $5,000 in year two. This amount would be much greater without the generous support of National City Bank.
Are there ongoing program costs?
- There is a $350 fee for each new business linked with a board of advisors and a $250 fee for the woman business owner accepted into the program.
Is there funding available?
- ATHENA International does not provide funding to local programs. Funding is typically secured in the community using program sponsors.
Who are the sponsors?
- Anyone interested in economic development will see the value of the ATHENAPowerLink® Program. Financial institutions are a good fit as they are interested in the success of businesses in the communities they serve. Corporate sponsors invest to strengthen their communities and recognize the value of enhancing women-owned businesses. The sponsor benefits from the publicity generated from the positive economic results for the business and the community. The sponsor is always remembered as the champion who made it possible.
Can a sponsor serve on an board of advisors?
- Yes, if the sponsor’s skills match the needs of the business owner.
Who is the Governing Body?
- The Governing Body is part of an established local entity, such as a chamber of commerce, a college or university, or an economic development organization in conjunction with local business people.
What types of individuals serve on the Governing Body?
- It is essential to have a diverse group of individuals who are representative of your community. A financial professional will bring the ability to accurately assess economic risk and the future viability of a business. Entrepreneurs and executives, experienced in other disciplines such as marketing, human resources, and production management, are all invaluable resources.
How many serve on a Governing Body?
- Generally, between 12-18 volunteers serve on the Governing Body. The size of this group depends on the community and the number of businesses that might be working with a board of advisors at any one time.
Can Governing Body members serve on a board of advisors?
- Governing Body members are encouraged to serve on a board of advisors. It is beneficial for each panel to have a member of the Governing Body participate. This keeps the board of advisors on track and the Governing Body apprised.
Who are the board of advisors?
- The board of advisors consists of leaders and professionals in their fields. They bring expertise to the business and are selected based on the specific needs of the business owner.
How long do advisors serve?
- Each advisor commits to working with the business owner for one (1) year. Advisors can serve more than one time.
Can Panel Members continue to work as paid advisors at the end of the program year?
- Yes. The board of advisors can convert to a paid group of advisors after one year. If this continues, it operates outside the auspices of ATHENA International.
Who selects the Woman Owned Business?
- All selections are made by the Governing Body at the local level.
Who is selected first, the business or the board of advisors?
- The business is selected first. The board of advisors is recruited to meet the specific needs of that business, and needs vary considerably from one business to another.
How is the Woman Business Owner recognized?
- The ATHENAPowerLink® graduate receives an ATHENAPowerLink® recognition piece, which is included in the ongoing program cost. The recognition piece is presented to the Woman Business Owner at the completion of her panel year.
When did the ATHENAPowerLink® Program begin?
- The PowerLink program began in 1992 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when two businesswomen recognized that female entrepreneurs often lack access to valuable advisors and mentors. The premise was simple - panels of volunteers willing to advise women business owners on important issues can help them achieve greater success. Today, as ATHENAPowerLink® expands across the country, the program continues to help women grow their businesses.
How do I get involved?
- Call ATHENA International at 312-580-0111
- Email athena(at)athenainternational.org or click "CONTACT US" below!