About Us

Story of Synergy4WBO

Running a small business is challenging enough. Being a minority or a woman business owner adds additional hurdles when it comes to securing capital, access to mentors and advisors, business development, networking, racism, and social injustice.

There have always been longstanding racial and gender disparities in business ownership. To top it off, the recent pandemic has disproportionately devasted minority-owned and women-owned businesses.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
  • 20% of small businesses fail in their first year.
  • 30% of small businesses fail in their second year.
  • 50% of small businesses fail after five years in business.

According to a recent 2020 report by Small Business Trends Alliance (SBTA) and Senate’s Small Business Trends (SSBT), the top challenges faced by small business owners are:

Lack of Role Models and Mentors

70% of small businesses that received mentoring has double the survival rate of non-mentored businesses

Lack of Funding / Cash Flow

82% of businesses that failed cited cash flow problems as a factor in their failure

Lack of Marketing/Advertising

Nearly 50% of women entrepreneurs think they should spend more on advertising and marketing

Synergy4WBO is Changing the future! By empowering people of color and women-owned small businesses to be equally profitable, sustainable, and successful compared to their non-minority counterparts.

  • We provide educational opportunities, one-on-one mentoring, professional coaching, marketing strategies, and access to capital to members of our community. So that they can be equally successful in the business world compared to their counterparts.

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    Mission & Vision


    To increase opportunities for people of color and women-owned small businesses. To provide a diverse and inclusive community that supports, emboldens, and cultivates people of color and women-owned businesses. Hence, changing their future!


    We see a future where minority and women small business owners in underserved communities can strengthen their knowledge, improve their marketing, gain access to capital and grow beyond their unimaginable potential. Thus, changing their future!

    How we plan on achieving our vision
    Lack of Role model
    • Strengthen relationships with financial institutions and CDFIs to provide access to capital.
    • Provide education on various funding options available in the market.
    • Provide access to Synergy’s proprietary crowdsourcing platform to enable raising funds from friends and family.
    • Create custom digital video asset for every mentee for business promotional purposes.
    • Facilitate networking events and selling within the community.
    • Promote member businesses on Synergy’s social media platforms.
    • Create a mentor-mentee match based on the area of expertise and need. This will be one on one mentoring sessions addressing specific growth needs.
    • Provide education and learning opportunities to learn from the SMEs and thought leaders in the industry.
    • Provide personal coaching services to address social and emotional challenges and to ensure maximum member benefit.
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    Executive Board

    Our Executive Board members Ms. Shirley Vincent and Dr. Kim R. Grimes have worked together for the enhancement of minority and women business owners by forging long-standing relationships with minority communities. They have envisioned Synergy with the sole purpose of encouraging small business owners to draw strength from the mentorship program and help them build sustainable and thriving businesses.

    Mrs. Vincent has over 2 decades of experience in helping growth-focused small businesses in Sales and Marketing and Technology implementations. She also volunteers as a mentor, business & career coach for small businesses and women in tech. Her passion is helping fellow business owners of color and women to succeed.

    Shirley Vincent

    Chief Executive Officer

    Dr. Grimes is a military veteran who has served the Unites States Army for 25 years! She has a doctorate in leadership and management and is a certified life coach. She has directed and led multiple successful mentoring programs for corporates and small businesses.

    Dr. Kim R. Grimes

    Chief Operating Officer

    Advisory Board

    Our advisory board is a living example of successful entrepreneurs who have risen above the odds to build a strong foundation for their business. They bring with them, decades of experience and a wealth of knowledge that’s sure to benefit the members of Synergy. They are an inspiration for all of us to emulate.

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    Vijay, R

    Vijay Ratthinam is the CEO of the Project Management Institute (PMI), San Francisco Bay Area Chapter since Nov 2018, and serving as a volunteer leader in various roles since 2014. As a CEO, he has built a highly engaging and diverse volunteer team that is delivering more than 100 events per year. He is one of the key leaders behind the success of the chapter Mentoring program which helped more than 200 members in the last 2 years. Vijay is also the Co-founder and CEO of BigFish Social, a non-profit mentoring platform specializing in mentoring students and young professionals. He has held various high tech project and program managerial positions with Fortune 500 companies like Target, StateFarm, Williams-Sonoma, Infosys, and is currently working as a Program Manager at Salesforce. He is an author and public speaker who enjoys speaking regularly at toastmaster meetings, public and non-profit discussion forums, and university student forums like UC Berkeley, Golden Gate University, and HULT Business School. Vijay holds SAPM from Stanford University, MBA from the ICFAI University, Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Bharathiar University. He serves on his daughter’s School Board and also enjoys volunteering at various mentoring organizations including Technovation, Genesys Works, HackBright Academy, dev/mission, and SNHU. He is PMP and CSM certified.

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    Monica Smiley

    Monica is the editor and publisher of Enterprising Women, a national and now global magazine she and her team launched in May 2000 to provide a strong voice for women entrepreneurs. The magazine will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2020 and is available in print and digital editions, supplemented by The Connector, a blog through the publication’s website at www.enterprisingwomen.com. Smiley also serves as president of the Enterprising Women Foundation, a nonprofit she founded in 2010 to encourage philanthropy among women entrepreneurs and support initiatives to strengthen women’s entrepreneurship in the U.S. and globally. The annual Enterprising Women of the Year Awards, now in its 18th year, honors the top 100 women entrepreneurs from around the globe at a two-day event held each spring. Monica serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) and has been a mentor in the Peace Through Business program working with Rwandan and Afghan women entrepreneurs for the past ten years. An award-winning journalist, Smiley has more than 40 years of magazine publishing experience and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2017 National NAWBO Gillian Rudd Business Leadership Award, the first Adrienne Hall Award presented by the Women Presidents’ Organization in recognition of her work to build bridges and alliances within the women’s business community, and the President’s Award from Women Impacting Public Policy. She received the 2013 Gold Stevie Award for “Women Helping Women” and The International Alliance for Women’s “World of Difference 100 Award.” Folio magazine named Monica to its 2015 list of “Top Women in Media and the “FOLIO 100: Top Leaders in Magazine Media” for 2018.” In 2015, she was recognized by STEMConnector and the Million Women Mentors Program for her work with the Enterprising Women Foundation’s National Mentorship Initiative to inspire the next generation of Young Enterprising Women. STEMConnector/Million Women Mentors also named her its 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year. She received the 2016 ATHENA National Leadership Award. Monica serves on the National Association of Women Business Owners National Advisory Council and is Board Chair for the Raleigh, North Carolina-based Institute of Consumer Money Management which invests in research on financial literacy. She has been a speaker and a delegate at the Global Summit of Women in Morocco, Germany, China, Chile, Turkey, Greece, France, and Switzerland.

    advisory member img

    Sandra Baer

    Ms. Baer is a champion of creative collaboration between the public and private sectors. Currently Ms. Baer serves as President of Personal Cities, a smart city company focused on city branding and identity, social inclusion and equity, and the acceleration of digital technology investments. She has advised a number of cities in the US and Europe and has consulted a CitiZenith, UrbanLeap, Citibeats, and Aalto Consultores. She is a Global Ambassador for the Edison Electric Institute and a member of Denton’s Smart Cities & Communities Think Tank. She serves on the board of multiple professional and civic organizations. She has held marketing leadership roles with ATT, Discovery Chanel, Nextel/Sprint, Ridge Global, Smart Cities Council, CIVIQ Smartscapes, and Bloomberg Government. Miss Baer is a respected speaker and moderator, and has spoken at the smart city, energy, infrastructure, sustainability and digital signage conferences in the US, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Sandra holds BA, MBA degrees, and a global advanced management certification from Georgetown University. She has lived and worked across Europe and currently resides in Washington DC.