Speaker, investor, and award-winning entrepreneur Dr. Cameka Smith, founder of The BOSS Network, works to unite professional women. Her organization is a community of professional and entrepreneurial women who support each other through conversation, online engagement, and event-based networking.
BOSS stands for “Bringing Out Successful Sisters,” and its goal is to promote and encourage the small business spirit and professional development of women.
Smith, who holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree, developed student academic programs for more than ten years. After being displaced from her job in 2009, she established The BOSS Network to support women similar to her in their own journey to become independent and successful by utilizing the power of networking and technology. Since then, The BOSS Network has evolved into a one-stop-shop for career and entrepreneurial-minded women.
The BOSS Network provides its members and partners with professional connections, resources, and marketing and promotional opportunities.
Smith, who authored 7 Steps to Grow Your Professional Network, has taken the BOSS concept to colleges. She started BOSS On Campus, and she speaks on career development and leadership topics. She also launched the BOSS Impact Fund and invested in 35 Black women-owned businesses.
NewsBreak had a chance to do a Q&A with Smith about BOSS and more.
NewsBreak: Why did you start The BOSS Network?
Dr. Cameka Smith: The BOSS Network is an online community of professional and entrepreneurial women who support each other through digital content, programs, and event-based networking. The mission of The BOSS Network is to promote and encourage the small business spirit and career development of women of color.
I wanted to establish The BOSS Network in 2009 to support women in their journey to become independent and successful while utilizing the power of networking and technology. Since then, The BOSS Network has evolved into a go-to resource for companies seeking Black women as their target market.
The BOSS Network has had a long-standing commitment to women entrepreneurs. I am so proud that we have been able to serve this audience for 14 years. Our commitment to building Black businesses is even greater than before.
NewsBreak: How does it work?
Dr. Cameka Smith: The BOSS Network is changing the way enterprising women are viewed among the masses and has become a resource for companies seeking female minority influencers as their target market.
The BOSS Network provides its members and partners with professional connections, resources, and marketing and promotional opportunities. It has become a one-stop-shop for career and entrepreneurial-minded women.
NewsBreak: What are the benefits of being part of the network?
Dr. Cameka Smith: We have supported the careers and small business developments of more than 200,000 women of color nationwide through initiatives such as BOSS Business University—a digital platform that provides comprehensive mentorship programming through industry business experts.
We also recently launched the BOSS Impact Fund, which has allowed us to raise capital and invest in 35 Black female-owned businesses with the help of our partner Sage. Being able to level up—in not only providing mentorship and resources for our members but also funding—has been one of my proudest moments.
NewsBreak: Why is such a network needed?
Dr. Cameka Smith: This is an exciting time for The BOSS Network, whose mission is to promote and encourage the small business spirit and career development of women of color. The BOSS Network is the No. 1 digital platform for Black women in business. As a community of women, we cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit and encourage successful women to develop, promote and support the next generation of young women looking to enhance their professional life. The BOSS Network develops various live events, virtual seminars, and networking opportunities to give our members and business partners optimum brand exposure.
NewsBreak: What is the most common challenge that Black professional women face?
Dr. Cameka Smith: The single greatest barrier to success for new businesses and startups is access to capital, and minorities make up less than 1% of founders that get investment funding. As part of our ongoing efforts to support and promote the entrepreneurial spirit among Black businesswomen, The BOSS Network has partnered with Sage, the global market leader for technology that provides small and medium businesses with the visibility, flexibility and efficiency to manage finances, operations and people, for the launch of the Sage “Invest in Progress” Grant Program, a $1.5MM commitment over three years.
Through the Sage “Invest in Progress” Grant Program, 25 Black women entrepreneurs received the opportunity to receive a capital investment of $10,000 toward successfully starting and growing their business, in addition to an entrepreneurial mentor program in support of Black women-owned small businesses.
The Sage “Invest in Progress” Grant will also provide coaching, curriculum, and connections while removing capital barriers to help this group achieve success. The grant application process was powered by HelloAlice, a grant funding platform designed for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Initially, scoped to award 25 grants, the overwhelming response of more than 12,500 applicants nationwide encouraged Sage and The BOSS Network to expand the program with 10 additional grants in the Sage Invest in Progress program. We are ecstatic for the 35 awardees and look forward to guiding them on their road to success.
These 35 awardees represent entrepreneurs from around the country and in various industries, including Beauty & Self-Care, Consumer Goods, Professional Services, Healthcare/Wellness, and Food and Beverage.
NewsBreak: What are your goals for the rest of 2022?
Dr. Cameka Smith: We have been diligent and have ensured that our impact on the culture is seen by being the #1 digital platform for Black women in business.
The launch of our first BOSS Impact Fund, as well as its incredible partnership with Sage, are not only a testament to the strength of The BOSS Network brand but also the power of its community of entrepreneurs and business owners.
Sage and The BOSS Network will continue to work together to remove the barriers that many entrepreneurs face by providing funding to support Black women entrepreneurs in the first five years of their business.
I will continue to advocate for change and ways to break down barriers for Black and brown people. If we all reach back and help someone as we rise, then we will see more success stories like mine.\
To find out more about The BOSS Network, please visit www.TheBOSSNetwork.org.