Natalie Cofield Taps Into the Entrepreneurial Potential of Multicultural Women
Updated August 20, 201811:54 AM - last edited August 21, 201811:10 AM
Name: Natalie Cofield, CEO Organization: Walker’s Legacy Location: Washington, DC Launched: 2010
Natalie Cofield has always been out in front of the pack. After attending college at 16-years-old, she launched a career as a management consulting services analyst with JPMorganChase. It wasn’t long before she was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and set out to start her own consulting firm. She sought a mentor as she ventured on her own but couldn’t find one. As a result, she founded Walker’s Legacy, a digital platform for young, multicultural women to find mentors and access the resources needed to help them succeed in business.
Hi Natalie! Tell us about Walker’s Legacy and what do you do there.
Walker’s Legacy is a digital platform for the professional and entrepreneurial multicultural woman. We exist to inspire, equip and engage through thought-provoking content, educational programming and a global community. At our non-profit arm, Walker’s Legacy Foundation, we provide the entrepreneurial, financial and professional support needed to improve economic prosperity and reduce economic inequality for multicultural women and girls, globally.
How did you start your organization?
I started Walker’s Legacy as an initiative by my first company when, at 26, I found myself without a female mentor. I was often the youngest and the only woman in the room, which resulted in a number of uncomfortable experiences navigating a male-dominated industry. My initial vision was to create a platform where other women could also gain insight and advisement.
What demographic do you serve and why?
Walker’s Legacy serves the ambitious multicultural woman who seeks inspiration in business and profession. She’s looking to climb the corporate ladder or to start her own company and is seeking support, resources and networks that can help her along her journey.
Our digital platform strives to provide content and community for all women while our foundation’s programming has a focus to help improve the livelihood and economic quality and equality of low-income women and girls. We do this by providing programming focused on improving financial literacy and financial empowerment skills for low income, high-potential multicultural women and girls. We equip women-led, micro-enterprises through entrepreneurship training and business development programming.
What are your observations about the current state of young women of color in entrepreneurship?
I think now is an exciting time to be a woman entrepreneur. Much attention has been paid to the historic inequalities that exist as they relate to access to capital, access to mentorship and access to resources. A number of women and men have stepped up to the plate to address this.
And, while it is important to celebrate the achievements women are making as it relates to the overall growth of women-owned firms and revenues, there still is much work to be done to reduce barriers and increase opportunities.
What are some of the unique challenges faced by this demographic of entrepreneurs?
Women of color entrepreneurs are particularly challenged as it relates to access to resources. While diverse-women entrepreneurship is growing, Black women, in particular, received less than 1% of all venture capital dollars. Black and Hispanic women economically make only 0.63 cents and 0.59 cents for every dollar earned by white men as compared to 0.80 cents for white women.
Additionally, we’ve learned that minority women find it more difficult to obtain mentorship both within the realms of business and entrepreneurship.
On the flip side, what are some of the advantages these young women have going for them?
The biggest advantage facing multicultural women in business is their grit and tenacity to overcome all obstacles. Despite the challenges they face, they continue to make considerable strides and contributions in the fields of business.
Walker’s Legacy (Natalie seated, at right) and the Minority Business Development Agency sign MOU to support programming for multicultural women in business
Why does this work matter to you?
The work of women’s empowerment and more specifically Walker’s Legacy is so important to me because I built the organization at a time when I needed mentorship most and surprisingly that time has never departed. Every new level of success or achievement requires new guidance and includes new relationships. With Walker’s Legacy, I have had the fortune of meeting thousands of women in person and touching thousands more.
What kind of impact have you witnessed Walker’s Legacy making on young multicultural women entrepreneurs?
As I travel throughout the country, I have been fortunate to have women who come up to me and tell me that Walker’s Legacy changed their life. For some women, it was by providing the motivation they needed to finish a book, pursue a new career or venture into entrepreneurship. For others, it has been a relationship that they made that generated a new business opportunity, investment or a life-long friendship. Or, it could be the professional work opportunities that presented themselves to the amazing women that have been employed by the organization who have gone on to work with some of the nation’s largest nonprofits or Fortune 500 companies.
The beauty is that there are far too many examples to provide!
Looking back to when you first started this organization, is there anything you would have done differently today?
Walker’s Legacy started as an initiative from my previous consulting company, so my initial approach to the organization was driven not by a business model but from an identified need. If I had to do things over, I would have established the initiative as a business earlier, focused on building a scalable platform more quickly and built corporate partnerships sooner.
What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs just starting out or even just contemplating self-employment?
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. There are some amazing experiences, wonderful wins and great joys that come both from the journey and the outcomes. However, there are also some extreme challenges, obstacles and times where you will feel like you should give up. We live in a time when entrepreneurship is romanticized and the realities of the steadfastness it takes to achieve success are rarely highlighted on Instagram. I would encourage entrepreneurs to have a plan, to watch or seek mentorship from people you admire and to offer a solution for a real and identified need. I would also recommend they save their money at all times to ensure they can withstand the storms.
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