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NAWBO Iowa announces second year of Business Institution, applications now open

NAWBO Iowa—National Association of Women Business Owners—is launching the second year of its Business Institute in October, uniquely designed for women business owners in Iowa who own an established business that has not yet reached $1 million in revenue.

“Existing programs tend to focus on start-ups or businesses over $1 million in revenue, but there is limited support specifically for businesses that are ready for the next level of growth—the ‘missing middle.’ Our goal is to fill two classes—one for those with employees/plan to add employees and one for solopreneurs,” said Tamara Kenworthy, Director of the Business Institute and member of the NAWBO Iowa Board of Directors.

The NAWBO Iowa Business Institute is focused on the ultimate goal of business growth by enhancing business skills, building connections, and receiving education through engagement. The seven-month program will create a safe and confidential environment for open discussion and relationship building, and provide the opportunity to incorporate business planning and goal-setting.

“Investing in NAWBO Iowa’s Business Institute has been an incredible experience for me. Every session was a great opportunity to network with like-minded women business owners by creating synergy and learning from each other. I highly recommend the Business Institute,” shared Karla Rendall, Owner, Farmers Insurance Agency, 2020 Business Institute class.

All classes will meet in-person in the Des Moines area on the first Wednesday of each month, starting in October until the program ends in April 2022.

Interested women business owners can learn more about the program, facilitator, and more, as well as submit their online application at:

Online applications are due Friday, September 10

NAWBO Iowa announces second year of Business Institution, applications now open | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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