Living the Dream Center for Entrepreneurship
YWCA Lower Cape Fear established Living the Dream Center for Entrepreneurship to help all people become successful. This center provides small business coaching for people wanting to start a business and those who currently own a business and want support with growth.
YWCA’s Living the Dream initiative will focus on micro businesses, a small business with 1-5 employees and requires less than $50,000 to start the company. Through the program YWCA provides classes, programs, and consulting to help increase participants confidence and competence in the business arena. Networking events and peer mentoring will provide valuable connections.
Living the Dream will utilize resources such as The Community Development Institutions Fund (CDFI) and the Small Business Administration to assist women of color in raising capital to start and grow their small businesses. Both programs offer resources and utilize federal funds and private sector capital to support economically disadvantaged communities.
The YWCA works hard to ensure all women, regardless of their economic status, are provided access to our program and services. As our mission states: eliminating racism, empowering women, promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.
Meet the Business Counselors
Simone E. Gardener, MA
Simone Gardner is a dynamic entrepreneur, motivational speaker and business consultant. She holds a Masters of Arts degree in Counseling from North Carolina Central University in Durham NC and a Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, NC.
Simone is the CEO of Simone Gardner Real Estate Group and KSG Enterprises. Her experience includes business planning and development and business operations. She works with entrepreneurs to bring their dream into reality. With over 15 years of expertise in providing small businesses with start-up and expansion consulting services, Simone serves as a board member with several community organizations that focus on providing assistance to disenfranchised and/or unemployed individuals. Simone’s goal is to empower by educating and inspire by encouraging; she believes that nothing else matters if she is not working to build others.
Frank West, MBA
Frank West has over 40 years of experience in commercial lending and community bank management in the Chicago area. Through his career worked and assisted business owners and entrepreneurs in retail, service, wholesale, commercial and industrial sectors. Frank was an organizing director for a De Nova Community Bank and advised his significant other in the start up of two small businesses.
Frank has a Bachelors of Arts from Augustana College located in Rock Island, IL and an MBA with a concentration in finance from DePaul University in Chicago, IL. Throughout his career he was actively involved in community Chamber of Commerces, Rotary International, The United Way, and The Bridge Youth and Family Services. Frank retired in 2018 and moved to Wilmington with his wife, Catherine, who is originally from Wrightsville Beach.
Kimyarda Lawson, New Choice Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org