At DC event, JPMorgan Chase and Luminary aim to close gaps for businesswomen

Last month, the leaders of 50 minority female-owned small businesses attended a workshop created to help advance women who own businesses and those in the process of starting them.

The D.C. event, which was held at the bank’s downtown D.C. headquarters, was part of Luminary’s In This Together Tour, in partnership with JPMorgan Chase’s Women on the Move initiative.

Ola Wadibia, vice president of Women on the Move, said more resources are needed for women.

“A lot of women have said they feel a lot of greater challenges to be able to run their business, which is really access to information, access to resources,” Wadibia said.

Wadibia pointed out that sometimes women have other domestic responsibilities that don’t allow them to focus solely on growing a business.

“Being able to determine a time that works for you to be fully engaged with the resources that you need, with a coach who’s really going to listen to you and your perspective, is such a critical, critical resource,” she said.

Kate Viggiano Janich co-founded Rowan Tree, a co-working networking space for women in Herndon, Virginia. She attended the workshop and was also on one panel. Vaggiano Janich said women sometimes hesitate to take the risks that men will jump straight into, which is why they need a support system.

“There’s a lot of wonderful things that women do that celebrate the nature that is inherent to the feminine,” she said. “However, there are things that we don’t do that we know men tend to do better, like charging higher prices, assuming that you know you can do it once you jump in.”

Rowan Tree’s other co-founder, Amy Dagliano, said even though her business is more established than many of those at the event, it was still useful for her to attend. She said she remembers what it was like to be just starting out.

“We wish we would have had this type of thing when we first started because there are things that you’re figuring out along the way, but just feeling safe and feeling like you can take the information and you can process it, you can ask questions — that’s so important,” Dagliano said.

Chase partnered with Luminary, a global professional growth and development platform for women supporting women. Luminary founder and CEO Cate Luzio was once managing director for JPMorgan Chase and said the tour was essential to close gaps for women in business.

“I used all of that experience that I had for 20-plus years in corporate America and saw a huge gap for women around skill-building, leveling up, but also at the same time building new connections, building their networks,” Luzio said.

Luzio said the tour helps create a sense of community, which is important for those working to get a business going.

“Bringing those stories, bringing those experiences together, really creates this bond — this unique bond amongst entrepreneurs,” Luzio said. She added that women in small businesses face challenges including capital, access to loans, and building.

“So, how do you market? How do you create awareness? How do you actually get people to buy from you? Those are some of the biggest challenges. And I would say for women of color, those are further amplified because there is this lack of information, lack of community and certainly lack of capital.”

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