Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Irene Mwathi of the NBMBAA Talks about their Upcoming Funding Forum

Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in Kenya until my teenage years. Thereafter we lived in Europe before I came to the United States for College.

What university did you go to?

I did my bachelors in James Clark School of Engineering – University of Maryland and McDonough School of Business – Georgetown University

What brought you to Austin?

I visited a friend of mine during her graduation and fell in love with the city. I later moved my consulting firm here and have loved it ever since.

What is the idea behind your group?

National Black MBA Association, Austin Chapter:
The mission of Austin Chapter of the NBMBAA is to lead in the creation of educational opportunities and economic growth for African American Professionals in Central Texas. Our Chapter is comprised of a network of business professionals, business students, and entrepreneurs whose goal is to share knowledge, build business skills, and generate employment opportunities in management fields. The NBMBAA Austin Chapter was established in December 2006 and since then has continued to educate its members both on the professional and entrepreneurial pursuits.

What need does it fulfill?

The need for this event is to provide minority business owners who are set for their next challenge an avenue to take their businesses to the next level. By bringing VCs and AIs and minority innovators together we hope to enrich the community as well as educate our entrepreneurs.

What exactly does your group do?

In addition to providing professional, leadership and entrepreneurial development to our members we also have a leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) program, a high school mentoring program that has helped to expand the overall number of minority leaders in corporate America by providing mentor/leader relationships with business executives and high school students in the community. We also have the Rising Stars Collegiate Program launched on Oct. 13th, 2009 in partnership with Huston-Tillotson University. Local business professionals and leaders serve as volunteer mentors to students, one mentor per student. Events such as the upcoming event help us identify successful entrepreneurs who can mentor entrepreneurial innovators in our chapter.

Who is it for?

Anyone interested in the progress of minorities in Austin.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up the group?

The most challenging aspect of starting a group is finding the resources to support the organization’s initiatives and also finding the right people who have enough time to volunteer and help execute the vision and initiatives of the organization.

What is the next step for you and your group?

Since we have only been existence for four years and the main focus has been getting started in the right direction, the next step is creating awareness about the organization in the Austin community and growing the chapter in membership and sponsorship. Building value for our members is our key focus 2011.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Austin has wonderful resource organizations to support your dreams. Joining such organizations as AEN, BootStrap Austin, Texas Venture Labs, Tech Ranch and leveraging RISE Alliance conferences, start-up conferences you are sure to network with like minds to take you to the next level.

Tell me more about your upcomingevent

This upcoming event program highlights different avenues for funding and sessions from some of Austin’s business leaders. We also plan to have a VC and AI funding symposium which will be the main feature after the luncheon, where at least 5 participants will get to pitch in front of an audience for funding between $150K – 5M. Keynotes include The path to entrepreneurship featuring Bijoy Goswami and luncheon keynote featuring Corey Bell on Serial Entrepreneur. The details are:

Event Location: AT & T Executive Center – UT,
Time: 8.00AM – 4.00PM
Date: November 12th, 2010

What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

AEN and ABJ are the most helpful as they keep entrepreneurs connected and well informed on what is going on in the city. There’s never a shortage of business development ideas at their events and connecting with like minds helps keeps you innovative.