Supporting Female Entrepreneurs Across Maine
The CEI Women’s Business Center offers a variety of courses, cohorts, workshops and events: geared towards aspiring female* entrepreneurs and existing business owners. Learn more about signature programs and how they can help you and your business thrive!
Check our events calendar for upcoming courses and cohorts:
No-cost interpretation services are available upon request.
*CEI aligns with the definition of women and female that explicitly includes not only cis women, but also trans women and femme/feminine-identifying genderqueer and non-binary individuals.
This 4-week program guides a group of 10-12 women in researching, testing, and developing their tech-based start-up ideas. In 2-hour sessions facilitated by product developer, Ashley Baldwin, participants determine a problem that needs to be solved, develop interview questions for potential customers, and begin to develop a viable product. In addition to group meetings, participants have weekly 1:1 check-ins with the program facilitator to receive guidance and set goals.
In Propeller I, I found my distinct problem, the solution, and firmed up how to implement the solution. I also learned how to communicate with my customer, learn from my customer, and found a wonderful support group of crazy strong amazing women.
- CAITLIN HOUSER, MILK BOTTLE COCKTAILS
Development or Start-Up
Maine women of all ages and abilities who are in the early stages of developing a business that is tech-based or conducts the majority of its business online.
This 8-week program is designed for women who have participated in Propeller I and wish to take their tech start-up idea to the next level. Participants meet weekly for 1-hour group workshops, as well as weekly 1:1 time with program facilitator, Ashley Baldwin, to assist them in moving forward with their start-up goals. The primary objectives of Propeller II include:
- Find 5 paying customers
- Write an abbreviated business plan
- Legally formalize your business
- Develop an online presence
Propeller II kept me focused on moving ahead on my project. Some weeks I didn’t have as much time to work on the business, but knowing I had a meeting every week kept me thinking about next steps and actually taking them. I also liked meeting new people and the classmates felt like friends and co-founders after only one session.
- HEATHER KENVIN, CARDIGAN ASSOCIATES
Development or Start-Up
Alumnae of Propeller I
Join the CEI Women’s Business Center and fellow Propeller alumnae for regular get-togethers, where you’ll have an opportunity to practice your pitch, network with other alumnae, and learn about upcoming opportunities.
Alumnae of Propeller I & II
This 8-week facilitated peer group is designed to help female entrepreneurs become more persuasive and effective communicators for a wide range of situations. In 2-hour sessions facilitated by Hazel Stark, participants will gain clarity and develop their own personal style of speaking about their business. Each session is an opportunity to practice storytelling through a range of speaking scenarios, all with a supportive sounding board of female entrepreneurs who provide feedback and encouragement.
From scenarios including casual inquiries about your business to professional elevator pitches, Spokeswomen provides a space to practice techniques and gain confidence when speaking on the spot.
Spokeswomen gave me all of the information I never knew I needed! By the end of the course, I was able to confidently and clearly define who I am as a professional and explain my services and their benefits. I learned tricks for making my speeches and content entertaining, engaging, and relatable. I’ve been afraid of promoting my business because I didn’t have the words to market in a convincing way. I no doubt believe that my business will grow now that I’ve gotten over this hurdle. It has been the missing link.
- SPOKESWOMEN PARTICIPANT, SUMMER ‘22
Currently in Business
This program guides a group of 8-10 female business owners through ten facilitated sessions focusing on business and personal growth. Each 2-hour session offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to share a current business challenge and brainstorm solutions with their peers. Participants also engage in facilitated discussions on personal development topics, including goal setting, time management, prioritization, and more. In addition to group meetings, participants are paired with an “Accountability Partner” to connect with between sessions.
FocusME is led by entrepreneur and professional facilitator Leigh Tillman.
Our group’s weekly refuge reassured and served and as a safe, forgiving place to dream and both give and receive friendship in a tangible way. My business would not be where it is today had I not signed up for our course. I knew it would force me to create necessary change and provide the gentle accountability to push myself.
- SUZI POND, RED BIRD MEDIA GROUP
Currently in business
A brief application process is required to ensure diversity of business types.
This 8-week program facilitated by Hannah Curtis, LCSW and founder of New Approaches guides a group of 8-12 female business owners to build a stronger foundation of self-worth. Each 1-hour facilitated discussion encourages participants to learn strategies to feel more confident in themselves and their decisions. This supportive group aims to help women understand they are not alone and give them actionable, concrete ways to reclaim their own self-worth as an individual and as a business owner.
This class helps build connection, confidence, and overall awareness within our business and ourselves. It helped me and continues to help me push my business. Connecting with so many business owners struggling with the same thing helps remind us we are not alone!
- SELF-WORTH CLUB PARTICIPANT SUMMER ‘22
Currently in business
Boundaries for a Thriving Business
In this 6-week cohort lead by Hannah Curtis, LCSW and founder of New Approaches, a group of 8-12 female business owners learn to say no, set limits, prioritize work and build a business that works for them. Each 1.5-hour session guides the group through structured discussions and skills-building instruction to grow a business that works for them.
Many female business owners find that they are repeatedly asked to do unpaid work, work that is not within their skill set, or work that leaves them tired and at risk of burnout. However, running a business is not inherently draining — especially when you have the tools to set healthy boundaries. This group aims to help women business owners across Maine help each other work on building boundaries to sustain their businesses together
Currently in business
Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Interpretation is available upon request.
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