Application Closed

Applications closed January 19th, 2024. Please contact us for more information.

Ascend.Her Overview

How do you lead your business into a new chapter?

Women entrepreneurs face unique challenges, from raising capital to external biases affecting day-to-day operations. As an expansion of Wacif's award-winning Ascend Capital Accelerator program, Ascend.Her is dedicated to serving women entrepreneurs through a holistic, multi-week program. Our hands-on approach includes interactive workshops, one-on-one expert consultations, and individualized support. Ultimately, our goal is to support the growth and long-term success of women entrepreneurs in the Greater Washington, D.C. region, including the surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia.

This year’s Ascend.Her Capital Accelerator: Lead Cohort is designed to help entrepreneur navigate a complex marketplace and build resilient businesses in an ever-changing marketplace. Together, we will pause and reflect on our experiences as entrepreneurs and leaders to date while determining how to lead businesses into their next chapters of growth and development. Ascend.Her Lead will include up to fifteen (15) local small businesses owned by women entrepreneurs from the Greater Washington, D.C. region.

The focus areas of Ascend.Her includes:

  • Strengthening your resilient mindset
  • Marketing and customer relationship building
  • Financial and management training
  • Accessing affordable loan capital
  • Risk mitigation
  • Business performance

Ascend.Her 2024

Members can expect:

  • Customized advisory services tailored to the needs of women entrepreneurs in our region.
  • Connection with a community of entrepreneurs facing a similar set of challenges.
  • Weekly classes over the course of 10 weeks (this includes the final capstone presentation and the preparatory time for it).
  • Individualized, vetted growth plan and opportunity to work with Wacif and small business advisors
  • Networking opportunities with other cohort members and alumni of past Ascend Accelerators
  • Final capstone presentation
  • Post-program support and engagement opportunities (change to this)
  • Pre-program launch event and graduation celebration

Members are expected to:

  • Commit up to 10 hours weekly during the cohort period for workshops, assignments, out-of-class reading, and technical assistance meetings.
  • Attend all sessions and complete all required assignments and surveys.
  • Create a 12-month growth and development plan.
  • Continue engagement with advisors, strategic partners, and cohort participants post-training sessions over a multi-month period.
  • Attend networking activities outside of classroom sessions.

Applications Closed

Applications closed January 19th, 2024. Please contact us for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The number of businesses participating in this Ascend cohort will depend on applicant volume and suitability. To ensure the maximum level of learning and engagement and to facilitate community building, the cohort size will not exceed 15 businesses.

We strongly encourage entrepreneurs who meet the following criteria to apply for the Ascend.Her program. (1) Your business has operated for at least two (2) years. (2) The business has generated at least $50,000 in annual sales for the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years. (3) Your business is registered and in good standing. Businesses that generated 35,000 or more but less than 50,000 in either 2022 or 2023 will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Yes. Ascend.Her Cohort is intended for women business owners located in the Washington D.C. area. Subsequent cohorts of Wacif's Ascend Capital Accelerators will be open to other applicants at a later date. Until then, Wacif's advisory services are available to all entrepreneurs. Learn more by visiting https://www.wacif.org, schedule a one-on-one consultation, or attend an upcoming workshop.

The program is best suited for entrepreneurs whose businesses have a revenue-generating track record, with a minimum annual revenue of $50,000. Entrepreneurs whose companies don't fit these parameters may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Applicants will also be evaluated on their sales growth trends and existing pipeline of projects and contracts.

We want to ensure participants can take advantage of all the workshops and learning opportunities offered throughout the program. While we expect participants may not be able to attend every workshop and activity due to scheduling, work, and life occurrences, wherever possible, absences are limited to one (1) session. If you are likely to be absent for more than one session, please consider applying at a time better suited to your schedule.

The initial Ascend.Her Lead leadership session will be in person. All other workshops will be virtual.

The principal office of the business must be in Washington, D.C., Prince George's County (MD), Montgomery County (MD), Howard County (MD), Arlington County (VA), or Alexandria (VA).

Applicants accepted into the program will be informed no later than February 19th.

Applicants will be reviewed holistically based on (1) the business; (2) the business' management; (3) financial position; (4) growth potential; (5) expressed small business and/or market challenges; (6) ability to increase revenue and profitability and (7) the business' narrative around social impact and community engagement. Significant attention will be given to businesses located in Wards 7 and 8.