BCNA is proud to bolster women entrepreneurs with inspiring stories to tell. Some are refugees, others are immigrants; all share their compelling journey towards the American Dream. Having overcome many challenges to establish profitable and growing businesses, hearing about their firsthand knowledge and experiences enrich and empower communities and organizations.
The BCNA Voices program features compelling women small business owners who are available for speaking engagements and interviews in many different languages and locations. Please contact Yanki Tshering at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-898-4112 for more information.
The owner of Le’Bulga Inc., a luxury handbag company, Natalia tells an impressive story of building a successful business from the ground up in the highly competitive fashion industry. After immigrating to the United States in 1995 from Uzbekistan, she graduated from FIT with a degree in Fashion Design. Upon graduation, she worked for various high-end fashion brands, which led to her passion for handbag design.
Le’Bulga handbags have been worn by celebrities and fashion insiders, and have been featured in fashion magazines alongside luxury brands including Burberry and Chanel.
The daughter of Argentinean and Colombian immigrants, Nancy is an impassioned advocate for New York City green taxi drivers and women entrepreneurs. As the first New York City taxi driver to receive a green taxi permit, she is highly regarded as a groundbreaker and leader in her industry. She has driven over 15,000 miles taking New Yorkers, including former Mayor Bloomberg, to their destinations.
Her goal is to continue to represent her industry through community organizing and speaking engagements with City agencies including the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Fluent in English and Spanish, Nancy is also pursuing a second career in translation services.
The daughter of Filipino immigrants and the owner of SPAdét, Annabelle tells an inspiring story about leveraging entrepreneurship to solve real-world problems. Using her background in biochemistry, she began experimenting with natural personal care products in 2008 to heal her daughter’s eczema. Once she perfected a formula that worked for her daughter, she founded SPAdét, which is best known for its O’Live Castile Soap – a pure, safe, and environmentally friendly liquid cleanser for sensitive skin.
SPAdét has secured large contracts with educational institutions, medical facilities, child learning centers, and specialty pharmacies.
The owner of Alima Hair Braiding in Brooklyn, Alimata tells her moving story about making the best of challenging circumstances – and uplifting other women along the way. A refugee from Burkina Faso who arrived in New York with her husband and children in 2012, she opened two hair braiding salons after putting herself through school.
Alimata’s salons employ eight women from her community. She is also the founder and president of the Association of African Women, a nonprofit networking group for African women entrepreneurs.
Arriving to the US from Nepal in 2003, Archana worked and studied chemistry and sociology at Hunter College, graduating in 2010. She worked in sales, marketing and training at Time Warner and Verizon before becoming the business manager at Sapphire Spa, in Manhattan. In 2018, with her savings, she opened her own business: Lenox Spa and Nails, a spacious day spa on the Upper East Side that specializes in manicures, pedicures, and facial treatments. A loan from BCNA helped to finance completion of construction and purchase spa equipment. Lenox Spa and Nails has created 11 full-time jobs.
As a member of the BCNA Voices Speakers Bureau – women entrepreneurs who are ambassadors for BCNA and experts in their business sectors – she is now available to speak to groups about entrepreneurship.
Marieme Keita, who came to New York from the Ivory Coast in 1992, speaks eloquently about work life balance, including making time for the joy her four children bring while still managing employees and a thriving business.
She began work as a hair braider in 1992, later opening her own own storefront braiding salon. Learning by doing, she gained the experience and confidence she needed to open her next business in 2015 – Keita West African Market – and has saved enough to purchase a home for her family as well. Located in a section of Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn on a street with extremely high foot traffic, the Keita West African Market now carries over $200,000 in merchandise and has recently expanded to include Lycamobile and money transfer services as well.
Her goal is to continue to expand and provide the most value she can for her customers, employees, and community while enjoying life and her beloved family as well.