A Conversation With Gail Lara


  • A Conversation With:

    Gail Lara

    Women’s Collaborative Mentoring Program
    President & CEO

How long have you been volunteering in the community?

I have been volunteering in the community to support women in business for over 15 years.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am the Executive Director of the Women’s Collaborative Mentoring Program (WCMP) at The Valley Economic Alliance (TVEA). I offer over 16 years of experience in small business development, training, and owning a business. Currently, my focus is to build a premiere results-driven training program for underserved women entrepreneurs.

I collaborate with small business development agencies and many independent women’s business programs to provide greater opportunities and build a powerful collaborative business community. I served over 3,900 business owners by opening the stage for over 380 local experts to offer their acumen.

My mission is to position underserved women entrepreneurs to thrive by providing customized mentoring to achieve sustainable business growth.

The biggest challenges for women entrepreneurs are a lack of confidence, training, and proper funding. The WCMP is an innovative solution to all three of these major issues by connecting entrepreneurs with the right people, top-notch service providers, and funding sources. According to a 2016 article in Forbes Magazine, women connected to a community for support can move their business forward three times faster.

The WCMP, a premier result driven training program, is laser-focused on women’s success during the early stages of business creation. Our focus is to collaborate with mentors, local economic development centers, and sponsors to solve issues that will foster long-term sustainable success. To thrive in today’s economy, a collaborative support model that eliminates unnecessary barriers for Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB) is necessary.

For more information please visit: www.thewcmp.com

Why did you create The Valley Economic Alliance’s Women’s Collaborative Mentoring Program?

As an entrepreneur working with women, I saw key issues facing women entrepreneurs, professional service providers, and diversity sponsors. The reason I created the WCMP is to solve the problems plaguing our business community, provide greater opportunities, and build a powerful collaborative business community.

For over a decade, I have worked with thousands of entrepreneurs, specifically women business owners. After studying their struggle through various (Entrepreneurial Training Program) processes and hosting hundreds of mentoring meetings and entrepreneur workshops, it was clear to me that women needed funding for specialized training and adequate support to grow a successful business. Guiding women through a strategic and well-planned business development process is what the WCMP was created to do.

Where do you see The Women’s Collaborative Mentoring Program in the next 3 years?

The WCMP’s number one goal is to build a community of successful women entrepreneurs with long-term relationships at the center. Our approach promotes collaboration which is essential for a successful relationship. The WCMP advantage is sponsored funding for EDWOSB to obtain specialized training and business services.

The benefits of a winning collaborative mentoring program are:      

a) EDWOSB receives funding for customized training

b) Service providers can dedicate time to a struggling business

c) Sponsors can meet their diversity and community support goals with high success rates

What are you most excited about The Women’s Collaborative Mentoring Program accomplishing in the near future?

I am most excited about bringing decision makers together with the visionaries of our community to create prosperous women-owned businesses. Together, we can move them from an EDWOSB to a Thriving Woman-Owned Business. The potential for job creation alone makes this an optimal choice for investors, women advocates, bankers, business advocates, and our community.

I am also excited about the plan to measure results of the WCMP program. TVEA in collaboration with the Small Business Majority, The Inter-Agency Council and The Entrepreneur Center will bring forth an economic impact study bi-annually.