Spotlight on the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell

In 2018, Bank of America partnered with Cornell University to launch the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell, a unique online entrepreneurship curriculum to help women small business owners gain critical skills and resources to grow their businesses and foster a vibrant network of women entrepreneurs and social innovators. The program has received overwhelming positive feedback from women entrepreneurs, with approximately 10,000 women enrolled in the certificate program through 2021. In response to the high demand by women entrepreneurs, we've increased our commitment to support 20,000 women entrepreneurs to enroll in the program. The Institute is part of Bank of America’s broader commitment to help women entrepreneurs gain the skills, knowledge and resources to build, manage, and scale a successful business.

Learn more about the experience of women entrepreneurs participating in the program.

Jessica Yeshaiek

Jessica Yeshaiek
Key West, FL
Shaddow and Fish

Jessica Yeshaiek, Owner/CEO of Shaddow and Fish, a line of resortwear retail stores based in Key West, Florida, always knew she would take over the family business. Her mother, Jill Shaddow, had started the brick and mortar stores from scratch and instilled a discipline of hard work and customer service in Jessica (nicknamed “Fish” for her love of the ocean and marine life).

Jessica inherited the four stores when she was just 27, leaving her role as managing director at an international corporation to carry on her mother’s legacy. Despite her business acumen, she found that a woman’s entrepreneurship journey can be lonely, including facing cultural obstacles and a lack of networks to lean on for support.

“No one understands what you go through as a woman in business until you do it yourself,” Jessica reflects. “When I heard about the Bank of America Institute for Women Entrepreneurship at Cornell, I was excited to connect with other women in small business and gain additional expertise.”

Upon learning about the opportunity from her Bank of America Small Business representative, Jessica enrolled in the first cohort which launched in November, 2018. She immediately found value in hearing from other women in small business going through similar challenges with the opportunity to get advice and discuss topics in a curated environment.

She also found practical applications from the Cornell coursework. One of the courses focused on strategic planning and required her to come up with a hypothetical plan for opening a new business. As she completed the plan, Jessica realized she had developed the strategic plan for the opening of her new store and put the plan in motion as the store opened in December, 2018. She also referred back to materials provided in the certificate course after she completed it, using marketing coursework to develop social media strategy for her business’ new website which launched July, 2019.

“Gaining insight into how women entrepreneurs operate differently from men and being able to apply resources from the certificate has been tremendously helpful as I expand my business through five stores and a newly launched website,” said Jessica.

Jaclyn W. Bae (Hui), DDS

Jaclyn W. Bae (Hui), DDS
Sunshine Pediatric Dentistry

Dr. Jaclyn Bae became a dentist to help people.  From a young age, she knew she wanted to work in healthcare, ideally with children.  However, as she mapped out a career in pediatric dentistry, she learned through experience that her education and qualifications did not prepare her fully for setting up and operating her own practice.   While dentists often set up their own practices, there is not a formal component of training on this in dental school.

When Dr. Bae planned to open her own practice in 2016, she found it challenging to start a practice from scratch and to know what steps to take to get the ball rolling.  When she was asked to present a business plan to obtain financing, without having any formal education or training on how to do so, the gaps in her “business education” became apparent. .  Once her practice had opened, it was a big challenge to juggle the clinical side of dentistry while navigating how to manage expenses, staff, and marketing to help the practice grow all while raising two young children.

After learning about the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell from her Bank of America small business representative, Dr. Bae was eager to take advantage of the amazing opportunity.   She focused in particular on branding and marketing due to the fact that her growing business hopes to appeal to younger parents, who are social media savvy and expect a strong presence in online channels.  She also learned more about funding diversification and the role investors are playing in the dental field.

Dr. Bae is focused on increasing her number of patients, building a good reputation, and examining her overhead costs, all while providing excellent and safe dental care to children.   She was inspired by the program’s network of women small business owners and one of her takeaways focused on the power of women coming together to help each other succeed.

“When women come together rather than competing, great things can happen.  We can support, empower and serve as sounding boards for each other.  It really is a beautiful and powerful opportunity that we have as women entrepreneurs. ” said Dr. Bae.

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