Hi! I'm Elayne, and I am the Founder of SiS Academy!
What is SiS Academy?
SiS Academy is the first and only online video learning platform dedicated to educating, inspiring and empowering Black women entrepreneurs.
As host of the Support is Sexy podcast, I've had the unique opportunity to interview more than 500 diverse women entrepreneurs around the world -- and I learn incredibly valuable information and insights from each and every one of them that help me better my own business. As a result, I've been dreaming about creating an online learning platform just for women entrepreneurs.
And because Black women are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs in the U.S. -- but still often the most underserved and least supported with everything from resources to funding -- and because, as a Black woman myself, I can identify with the obstacles and bias that face us due to systemic racism, I decided to have a curriculum for SiS Academy that catered to our needs (and our struggles) as Black women, as women and as entrepreneurs. Thus, SiS Academy was born!
And most recently, I'm happy to announce, SiS Academy has partnered with Google to launch a small cohort of Black women entrepreneurs from the SiS Academy community to go through a 12-week curriculum we co-developed that will allow these women to learn tools and resources from Google experts to help them grow their businesses.
But Why, SiS?
Yes, it's true, many Black women use the term "sis" as a term of endearment and a way to connect with each other. The Universe had our back when the idea for SiS Academy for Black women and the connection to that term so perfectly aligned.
But SiS also stands for "Support is Sexy" -- a phrase that I coined to remind myself -- and other unapologetically ambitious women -- that having it all doesn't mean doing it all alone.
See, I am a recovering do-it-all-by-your-damn-selfer. “I got it,” were three of my favorite words, and I’d rarely ask for or accept support. It wasn’t until a life-changing workshop in 2015 that I realized not only how not asking for support held me back personally and professionally, but also how it limited the ways I could be of service to the world. That mindset shift evolved into me choosing to view support as sexy and empowering, and fueled my desire to share this message with as many women as possible so we can get over what I call, "I Got It" Syndrome. I created the Support is Sexy podcast to amplify that message, and to date the podcast has more than 780,000 downloads. On May 11, 2021, my first book, GET OVER "I Got It" will be released by HarperCollins Leadership.
Why Black Women Entrepreneurs?
According to the 2019 American Express State of Women Owned Businesses report, while the number of women-owned businesses grew 21% from 2014 to 2019, firms owned by women of color grew at double that rate (43%). The numbers for growth among Black and African American women owned businesses grew even faster at 50%.
The report also says that when it comes to Black women owned businesses, as of 2019, they:
- Numbered 2,681,200 or 21% of all women-owned businesses.
- Have grown at an annual rate for the past year of 12% compared to an 8% annual growth rate between 2014 and 2019.
- Represent the highest rate of growth of any group in the number of firms between 2014 and 2019 and between 2018 and 2019.
- Represent 42% of net new women-owned businesses, which is three times their share of the female population (14%).
Black women are also the most educated group of individuals in the U.S., consistently making up over 50% of the number of Black people who receive postsecondary degrees. Percentage-wise, Black women outpace white women, Latinas, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans in this arena as well.
Yet when it comes to equal pay, Black women are paid 38% less than white men and 21% less than white women. And over the course of the average Black woman’s career, the lost income adds up to almost a million dollars compared to white men, according to the Lean In organization.
Part of the reason Black women are turning to entrepreneurship is because of these above disparities and hitting what's called the "concrete ceiling" (as opposed to the glass ceiling) in their jobs. Entrepreneurship offers an opportunity to have more autonomy and and the potential to make more money. But although we are aggressively launching businesses, our firms had an average revenue of $24,000 per firm vs. $142,900 among all women-owned businesses in 2019. According to the American Express report, "the gap between African American/Black women-owned businesses’ average revenue and all women-owned businesses is the greatest of any minority."
Here's the issue: The lack of a go-to source for support, education, resources and inspiration for Black women entrepreneurs leaves many of us scrambling trying to figure it out on our own within a system that is not set up historically to help us succeed.
The reason Black women earn less income within our careers and less revenue within our businesses isn't because we're not striving. It's because we need support.
SiS Academy aims to close the financial gap between Black-women-owned businesses and other businesses and to change the narrative around Black women entrepreneurs.
Our goals is to set these women up for success in their businesses and in their lives. When Black women entrepreneurs do better, their families do better, their communities do better and the country does better. It's time for us all to do better.
Why am I raising money, and how will it be used?
SiS Academy is currently in its beta stage and allowing users to register for the site to view free videos or pay for subscriber videos. However, we have not had the financial resources to focus on growth, market the platform in a significant way, create consistent new content and consider better technology that may make the platform that much more attractive and beneficial to our users.
I am raising money to support with:
- Technology and platform development
- Course production
- Community Outreach (part of our mission is to provide education and mentorship to young Black girls who are interested in entrepreneurship)
I hope that you will support SiS Academy and help us close the financial gap between Black women businesses and other businesses, empower Black women entrepreneurs and educate young Black girls who have hopes of entrepreneurship as part of their future.
Together, let's do better.