Amber

AMBER is a 16-week program designed to work with a small cohort of minority business owners focusing on organizational and strategic growth for your company. AMBER Fellows are led by a business development coach who helps each Fellow design sustainable business operating plans and develop strategies, policies, and key performance indicators to help propel their businesses to the next level.

In partnership with the Montgomery County Government and multiple business advancement partners, we utilize an entrepreneurial ecosystem with continuous learning for minority and small business owners.

Our team supports the AMBER Fellows by building a stronger and more sustainable organization through individualized coaching, subject matter expertise, and accountability of key performance indicators.

Program Highlights:

  • Weekly one-on-one coaching with a business expert
  • Specialized trainings
  • Access to business advancement experts
  • Support from subject matter experts
  • A community of like-minded business owners
  • A broad network of local government and business leaders
  • Exclusive and personalized access to business development resources

September 2023 Amber graduates

Zainab Abbas

Beverlee (BJ) Dawkins

Collin’s Angel
www.collinsangel.com

Dosis Feludu

BiiTech Solutions
www.biitechsolutions.com

John Swann

Philippa Channer

Channer Consulting LLC
www.channer-consulting.com

Chris Donovan

Nips Juice House
www.nipsjuicehouse.com

Ludley Howard

Pride Youth Services, Inc
www.prideyouthservices.org

Raquel Vazquez

The Empowered Block
www.empoweredblock.com

Judith Clark

Women Who Care Ministries
www.womenwhocareministries.org

Maisie Dunbar

Maisie Dunbar Global Beauty Brands
cosmetic.bluffajo.com

Ian Johnson

TruBlu Cleaning Pros LLC
www.trublucleaning.com

Patrice Williams-Johnson

Motown Glory Partners Community Development Corp
www.motownglorypartners.org

Shaneiree Dames

The Dames Group LLC
www.thedamesgroupllc.com

Yakov Elizarov

Elizarov Consulting Group
www.ecgdc.com

Michele Joseph

Student Global Ambassador Program
www.sgapleaders.org

Michelle Ugorji

Posh Drapes
poshdrapes.com

TESTIMONIALS

You have consistently challenged me to reach my full potential and have provided me with the support and encouragement I need to succeed. Your insights and advice have been instrumental in shaping my path to success and have helped me navigate through various challenges and obstacles.

Coumba Graves

The comprehensive guidance we received enabled us to identify our target audience, refine our unique value proposition, and develop effective marketing strategies. With your support, we gained the confidence to present our business to potential customers, and we were elated when we secured our first customer. What truly sets your coaching program apart is your genuine care for our well-being and personal growth. You taught us business strategies and the importance of self-reflection, perseverance, and a positive mindset. Our success thus far would not have been possible without your guidance and unwavering support.

Steve Tchoupe

Dr. Drena means business and will make sure you feel the same. She quickly helped me identify areas of improvement in my hair salon business and my own professional growth. Her attention to detail and ability to anticipate my business needs, together with execution and follow up moved me and my business to a better and stronger place.

Amadou Tandina

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the main focus of the program?

The program will provide individualized coaching based on your unique needs and goals as well as technical assistance in identifying critical resources for your business. The weekly coaching is conducted one-on-one, and the cohort meets together at least monthly to network and share solutions to business challenges. The cohort continues to provide peer support in many ways beyond the 16 weeks of the program.

How often can we meet with our coach while in the program?

You will meet with your coach weekly at a mutually agreed time to work toward your goals and the key performance indicators for each goal. The coaching is based on your individual needs.

Will there be coaching on how to pursue financing opportunities?

The goals will focus on topics specific to your needs, and financing can be among the subjects you discuss with your coach.

What is the timeline of the program?

The program is 16 weeks and includes weekly coaching and monthly peer group sessions. Additional opportunities for training and development are offered throughout the 16 weeks. You will work with your coach to determine your weekly schedule, which can be virtual or in-person. The four group sessions are primarily in-person to allow networking and fellowship. Additional sessions may be offered online or in person.

My business is in the planning stage. How will this program help?

This program is for all stages of business. If you are at the concept stage, you can apply, and based on a number of similar applicants, we may coordinate a specialized cohort. For example, due to the need, we offered a 16-week cohort solely for nonprofit businesses.

What types of businesses will be a part of the cohort?

The program is designed to accommodate for-profit companies that have been in business for at least two years. However, we can offer opportunities for startups and nonprofits to form a cohort based on the interest and number of applications. Businesses operating in Montgomery County, Maryland are eligible to apply.

Will this program help in obtaining grants and contracts with the State of Maryland?

The program is focused on business development and access. The AMBER program activities and connections can provide access to information sources, procurement opportunities, and networking with officials and other decision-makers. Coaches can often assist with guidance on applications for certification, loan applications, and procurement bids by reviewing materials or referring to a subject matter expert.

What makes the AMBER program unique?

There are many programs that provide mentoring, training, technical assistance, and informational materials. Any entry into the business ecosystem can be helpful, but many underserved businesses need consistent navigation and assistance in defining goals and accountability through the achievement of key performance indicators. We do not rely on volunteers to support the businesses in the program. We offer experienced and paid coaches and subject matter experts. Our coaches maintain weekly contact, we have monthly peer group sessions, and we make introductions to public and private officials and business leaders to help each business navigate the myriad resources available. Our coaches return to work briefly with each business six months after the end of the initial program, and we monitor progress for 18 months.

What kind of subject matter experts will I have access to if I am accepted to the program?

Every business has unique needs, but our subject matter experts come from a variety of industries, including legal, talent management, marketing, technology, and finance.

Can AMBER help me be certified as an MBE or Veteran Disabled Business Owner?

Coaches can work with businesses and other technical assistance experts to assist in working through the steps to complete the certification process.

Key accomplishments from the pilot cohort:

  • 5 Fellows received technical assistance in access to capital resources
  • 1 Fellow qualified for $500,000 in bank loans
  • 1 Fellow won $10,000 in a local pitch competition
  • 2 Fellows hired more staff
  • 2 Fellows increased revenue within 7 months
  • 2 Fellows partnered on a County contract application
  • 1 Fellow returned to pre-pandemic revenue
  • 100% of Fellows said the AMBER program is a valuable resource in the community

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