Spotlight #EncoreCLE: Becoming an ENCOREpreneur

Encore Entrepreneur Initiative logo on blue background

Launched in 2013 by the Cleveland Foundation, Encore Cleveland helps to connect and fund a network of organizations to provide experienced Greater Clevelanders an array of meaningful opportunities in the community upon retirement or near the end of their primary careers. In our “Spotlight Encore Cleveland” guest blog series, we go behind-the-scenes to explore the many opportunities available through Encore Cleveland. Learn about the Women’s Business Center of Northern Ohio’s Encore Entrepreneur Initiative in this guest blog from the organization:

There’s no age limit when it comes to entrepreneurship! Did you know that women over the age of 50 are among the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurs? To support these encorepreneurs, the Women’s Business Center of Northern Ohio (WBC) and the Cleveland Foundation developed the Encore Entrepreneur Initiative (EEI).

EEI is an eight-week program made up of 10-15 entrepreneurs. The specially curated curriculum consists of Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI)’s four-week business planning series, financial literacy training, marketing for business, and coaching for obtaining small business funding. Classes are held once a week at the WBC in MidTown.

EEI is application-based, but not a competition. This means that at the completion of the program, all of the women entrepreneurs end with a business plan, an understanding of common obstacles in business, and a built-in support network.

“Our Fall 2018 cohort will be our third round of the Encore Entrepreneur Initiative. It’s such an exciting program for our team, because so often we see how lonely entrepreneurship can be. The WBC and the Encore program provide these entrepreneurs with a community to guide their journey,” says Nicole Liatos, Interim Director of the WBC.

One encorepreneur, Pat Bennet, owner of Pat’s Granola, came to the WBC through EEI. For more than 20 years, she’s been perfecting her granola recipe and testing it out on her toughest critics: her family. EEI was her opportunity to turn this hobby into a legitimate business. Having completed the program, she’s now in the process of securing necessary food licenses, and hoping to get onto store shelves!

“These women are my tribe, I support them as they’ve supported me,” she remarked, when referring to the group of women in her cohort.

Participation in EEI also secures all participants with ongoing business assistance through complimentary membership at the WBC. The WBC provides women with the resources and tools necessary to create a strong, sustainable business. Members have access to weekly training classes, one-on-one coaching, and connect with the Professional Advisory Network (PAN), a group of volunteers consisting of lawyers, marketers, accountants, etc. As a Small Business Administration-funded organization, the WBC also provides women with access to capital, through traditional and non-traditional lenders.

To learn more about the Encore Entrepreneur Initiative and the Women’s Business Center of Northern Ohio, please contact: Nicole Liatos via or 216.912.5662.

1 Comment

  1. Arna Stennett

    I want to thank you for accepting my application ;unfortunately, I wasn’t accepted into the fall session but because I feel so strong about my mission and business venture I plan to submit another application in the spring.
    I am looking forward to working with the team on my business dream.

    “Everything comes to him who waits, If he works while he waits” Apple of Gold
    Thus, I am working while waiting to be prepared when my time comes.
    Thanks again,
    Arna Stennett

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