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ON ISLAND

Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities
An Organization of Many Missions

By Amelia Smith

CEO, Inc., “Creative Entrepreneur with Opportunities,” was established in the spring of 2015 when it took over from the Martha’s Vineyard Women’s Network. This April, it merged with Women Empowered, which had been helping Island women with money management coaching, tuition assistance, and workshops since its founding in 2000. This dynamic organization has adapted and expanded on the missions of its predecessors. Its programs cover a wide range of needs, including employment assistance, mentorship for young entrepreneurs, and think tanks for established industries here.

India Rose, CEO’s Founder and Executive Director, is the organization’s only full-time employee. “Growing up on the Island I think gives me the local advantage of understanding the Vineyard culture, its diversity and its seasonality,” she says. “It has also provided me with great opportunities to have built great relationships within our amazing community.” She graduated from the Tisbury School and the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and is now raising her own children here, so the future of the Island and its economy is naturally a high priority for her.

India’s networking, business experience, and enthusiasm help her effectively connect others to resources, on-Island and beyond. “We’re big collaborators,” she says. India works with Islanders of all ages to help them achieve their entrepreneurial goals by coaching them through the process of developing a business plan, a brand identity, and their product’s story. On the second Saturday of each month, from October through May, there will be a CEO Youth Marketplace held at the Island Wide Youth Collaborative. This monthly collaborative event will be filled with product and service tables where young entrepreneurs between the ages of 14 and 26 will have the opportunity to sell their goods and services and to share their ideas with the entire Island community.

The merger with Women Empowered brought on another set of goals. Women Empowered’s trained volunteers helped women develop financial management skills. CEO will be taking a slightly different approach to fulfilling the same goals. Instead of using volunteer coaches, they’ll be training people to become certified financial coaches while also providing them with the small business start-up tools they need to set up their own coaching businesses. In return, those new coaches will have a reciprocal process with CEO to help those who come to the organization for help with personal financial management.

Another aspect of CEO is the opportunity for women to become Network Partners and help steer the organization forward. “Network Partners are specifically women and from all walks of life’” India says. “The benefit of being part of this great group is everything from intimate monthly meetings to collaborative and networking opportunities created specifically for them. Network Partners also help shape our programming.”

Some recent programming has included a Job and Volunteer Fair and workshops on goal setting and journaling for women in business. CEO is also creating a jobs clearinghouse that will help match pre-qualified job seekers with employers, both here and in Falmouth. The addition of Falmouth area partners and businesses to CEO’s programs broadens the community and provides new economic development opportunities. “We are able to support entrepreneurship and job assistance to anyone who needs it based on the stage or process they are in,” India says. “If there is a collaborator or another agency that we think can better contribute to a part of that process, we will refer and/or work with them to make sure they receive the assistance they need.”

CEO’s second annual "Fall Under The Stars" fundraiser is a silent auction of themed baskets and handbags. It takes place on the first day of fall, September 22nd, at Bad Martha’s Brewery in Edgartown. Like CEO itself, the event brings together different traditions. “Women Empowered Inc. previously did an annual handbag auction event and we have combined that event with our Fall basket auction,” India says. vs

To find out more about what CEO, Inc. is doing next, and how you might be able to support this nonprofit, you may visit them: on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CEOMVINC or at their website: www.iamaceo.org