Last October, Ernst & Young LLP announced the 11 winners of its 2012 U.S. Entrepreneurial Winning Women program (www.ey.com/us/entrepreneurialwinningwomen), a national competition and leadership initiative that identifies and connects a select group of women entrepreneurs with the advisors, resources, and insights they need to scale their companies and become market leaders.

Launched in 2008, the program is intended to help women entrepreneurs break through the barriers that keep thriving second-stage businesses from scaling to their full potential. Once selected, the entrepreneurs participate in an ongoing, customized program designed by Ernst & Young to catalyze their companies’ growth by building and fostering critical relationships, enhancing leadership skills, expanding business know-how, and providing increased visibility. They are coached on the five crucial leaps they need to scale their companies: thinking big and setting higher goals; building a public profile; working on the business, rather than in it; establishing key advisory networks; and evaluating financing for expansion.

Research shows that the program is paying off in a big way. Revenues of program participants’ companies have grown almost 50 percent each year on average, with a corresponding 26 percent average annual growth in the number of jobs, according to a recent independent study directed by the Babson College Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership.

“Our Entrepreneurial Winning Women program helps bridge the gap for an area we call ‘the missing middle’ – those second-stage women business owners whose companies have emerged from the start-up phase but face a crucial inflection point in their growth journey,” said Kerrie MacPherson, Principal and Entrepreneurial Winning Women Executive Sponsor, Ernst & Young LLP. “By providing the right information, networks, and guidance, we’re able to help these talented women access capital, identify strong business advisors, and put the processes in place to radically expand their companies.”

Women entrepreneurs play an essential role in creating sustainable economic growth in today’s uncertain economy. In fact, women start businesses at twice the rate as men. However, despite robust growth in early stages, women-owned companies don’t always scale up to their full potential.

The Entrepreneurial Winning Women program is conducted in collaboration with several organizations that encourage the development and expansion of women-owned companies, including the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), The Committee of 200 (C200), the Kauffman Foundation, and Babson College’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership.•

“If women started their businesses with the same level of capital and were able to scale them the same way that men can, we’d have six million more jobs in the U.S. alone,” says James S. Turley, Global Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young.

The Entrepreneurial Winning Women lead companies across all industry sectors, including lifestyle and luxury brands, legal solutions, technology, logistics, health care management, manufacturing, corporate wellness, and food and beverage.

“The Entrepreneurial Winning Women Program has totally changed my definition of ‘big’ and opened my eyes to the growth potential for our company,” said Amy Buckner Chowdhry, CEO, AnswerLab and a member of the 2011 class of Entrepreneurial Winning Women. “I’m thinking entirely differently about how we measure being the market leader.”

Lisa Bair of Hobart Group Holdings, a 2010 class member, said, “Thanks to the Entrepreneurial Winning Women Program, I am now 100 percent focused on a three- to five-year vision that includes building out our expertise, the possible acquisition of complementary companies, and investment capital to allow us to scale.”

The Entrepreneurial Winning Women program is evergreen, meaning that, once selected, the entrepreneurs are encouraged to stay engaged in the program as long as it benefits them. Each of the Entrepreneurial Winning Women is assigned a local Ernst & Young professional who provides ongoing strategic direction and contacts and helps her stay connected to the community of successful entrepreneurs Ernst & Young regularly convenes.

In addition, the members of each new class of Entrepreneurial Winning Women receive an all-expense paid trip to the U.S. Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum® (www.ey.com/us/strategicgrowthforum), an invitation-only gathering of nearly 2,000 high-growth, market-leading company CEOs. The annual forum offers a one-of-a-kind platform for Entrepreneurial Winning Women to introduce their companies and meet a well-placed community of Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® winners, top executives, prospective investors, and business advisors.

Members of all classes are invited to return to the Strategic Growth Forum annually to learn, connect with one another, and refresh their sector and advisory contacts. The Entrepreneurial Winning Women are recognized at a special celebratory event during each forum.

“Incredible CEOs, advisors, and investors have approached me because they are interested in what we’re doing,” notes Elisabete Miranda of CQ fluency, another 2010 class member. “The amount of exposure and recognition that we received, especially at the Strategic Growth Forum, was a totally different and amazing experience.”•

Ernst & Young 2013 U.S. Entrepreneurial Winning Women with Jim Turley

Left to right: Allyson Ames, Susan Walvius, Kara Goldin, Michelle Marciniak, Emily Armenta, Jim Turley, Kari Warberg Block, Ellen Stang, Fiona Gathright, Tammy Tedesco, Leslie Firtell, and Allison O’Kelly

“Women represent the largest emerging market in the world and their potential is limitless,” said Maria Pinelli, Ernst & Young’s Global Vice Chair, Strategic Growth Markets. “In the next five years, the global incomes of women will grow at twice the rate of the GDP growth in China and India combined. Along the way, they are going to create the innovative products and jobs that help economies grow. We have to help them get there. That’s what Winning Women is all about.”

The 2012 class of U.S. Entrepreneurial Winning Women was chosen from a group of 110 applicants by a panel of independent judges comprised of highly successful entrepreneurs, advisors, and investors, including: Howard Brodsky, Chairman and CEO, CCA Global Partners; Cynthia Cohen, CEO, Strategic Mindshare; Laurie Cunnington, President, Ward Williston Oil Company; Dr. Mary Jo Gorman, CEO, Advanced ICU Care and a 2011 Entrepreneurial Winning Woman; Jeri Harman, Managing Partner, Avante Mezzanine Partners; Rob Scott, VP and Worldwide General Manager, Hewlett Packard; and Mary Ellen Sheets, Founder, Two Men And A Truck.

For women, judge Jeri Harman notes, “The Entrepreneurial Winning Women program is a rare opportunity to find the resources and support – mentorship, networks, education, access to capital – to take their companies to the next level.”

Ernst & Young is committed to realizing the economic impact of women entrepreneurs throughout the world. In the Americas, the firm just launched the Entrepreneurial Winning Women program in Brazil. In 2013, Canada comes on board, with the U.S. program expanding to become the North America Entrepreneurial Winning Women program to provide recognition and business development opportunities for the growing number of Canadian women entrepreneurs alongside their American counterparts. Programs are also underway in Indonesia and Australia. In addition, Belgium, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the Slovak Republic, South Africa, Ukraine, and Hungary are planning to begin programs in the next 12 to 18 months.

“Women represent the largest emerging market in the world and their potential is limitless,” said Jim Turley, Ernst & Young’s Global Chairman and CEO. “In the next five years the global incomes of women will grow at twice the rate of the GDP in China and India combined. Along the way they are going to create the innovative products and jobs that help economies grow. We have to help them get there. That’s what Winning Women is all about.”

Yanty Isa, founder of an Indonesian food and beverage research and development company, said the networking opportunities offered by the program are particularly important: “As women, we have to juggle so many different roles, we often miss business opportunities.” Santi Mia Sipan, another Indonesian entrepreneur participating in the program, commented that the exposure it’s now receiving will help her go global.•

The U.S. Entrepreneurial
Winning Women Class of 2012

Allyson Ames, Wonderland Lifestyle Brands.tif

Allyson Ames

Wonderland Lifestyle Brands
Newport Beach, California;

Wonderland Bakery® is a unique destination specializing in delicious desserts and whimsical products that make every day a celebration. A national favorite of families, celebrities, and the White House, the brand is expanding beyond baking to include merchandising, media, and entertainment properties•.

Kari Warberg Block, Earth-Kind

Kari Warberg Block

Bismarck, North Dakota

Earth-Kind manufactures the first and only EPA-certified natural rodent repellent, FRESH CAB®. With up to 50 percent of the globe affected by rodent issues, this market-transforming product delivers results without risks – it’s actually safe enough for humans and pets to eat. The company’s customers, like John Deere and Ace Hardware, trust Earth-Kind’s innovations to save millions of dollars in rodent damage each year.•

Fiona Gathright, Mom Corps

Fiona Gathright

Wellness Corporate Solutions, LLC
Cabin John, Maryland

Wellness Corporate Solutions (WCS) is a nationwide corporate wellness and biometric screening company committed to providing high-touch wellness programs that reduce health care costs. WCS educates, engages, and empowers employees with tools and resources to make healthy lifestyle changes. WCS is number 533 on Inc. magazine’s list of fastest growing private companies and works with leading Fortune 500 companies.•

Allison OKelly, Armenta

Allison O’Kelly

Mom Corps
Fort Washington, Pennsylvania

Mom Corps is a professional staffing firm that connects employers with a unique pool of 80,000 experienced professionals seeking flexible work. With franchise offices located throughout the U.S., Mom Corps places its candidates in flexible jobs at the nation’s leading companies across many functions, including Finance, Marketing, HR, Legal, and Strategy.•

Emily Armenta, Armenta

Emily Armenta

Houston, Texas;

Armenta is a global luxury brand with roots in high-end designer jewelry. As design innovators, Armenta produces handcrafted jewelry and hardware for exotic skin leather goods. Its manufacturing facility is also home to its school, which trains the next generation of artisans. Armenta sells to the finest retailers in the U.S. and around the world, including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Harrods department store.•

Leslie Firtell, Tower Legal Solutions

Leslie Firtell

Tower Legal Solutions
New York, New York

Tower Legal Solutions is a full-service legal staffing and managed-review company that provides experienced legal professionals and e-discovery project management support to law firms and corporations. The company prides itself on unmatched client service, accountability, and transparency in the client/candidate relationship which, when combined, enhance project and staffing success.•

Kara Goldin,HINT

Kara Goldin

San Francisco, California

Launched in 2005, HINT is the maker of the great tasting, no calorie, unsweetened essence waters HINT and HINT FIZZ. HINT does more than hydrate; it’s at the heart of a healthy lifestyle and helps consumers vow to Drink Water, Not Sugar®.•

Ellen Stang MD, ProgenyHealth

Dr. Ellen Stang

Conshohocken, Pennsylvania

ProgenyHealth® delivers care management solutions to insurers and employer groups, managing the health care services provided to premature infants admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Care for preterm infants in the U.S. costs $26 billion annually. ProgenyHealth’s clinically driven program promotes appropriate NICU utilization, improves access to care, educates family members, and reduces costs while maintaining the highest quality of care.•

Tammy Tedesco, Edibles Rex Management Services

Tammy Tedesco

Edibles Rex Management Services
Detroit, Michigan

Edibles Rex Management Services is a healthy school food service provider, serving more than 10,000 meals per day. Its focus is nutritional, quality, made-from-scratch meals that children love. The company provides the food, delivery, and friendly service staff to accommodate federally guided budgets.•


Michelle Marciniak

and Susan Walvius

Irmo, South Carolina

Elite athletes and coaches Michelle and Susan co-founded SHEEX after inventing the world’s first performance fabric luxury bed sheet. Through innovative product development, SHEEX evolved to create a new category in functional bedding focused on the science of sleep and recovery. SHEEX designs, markets, and sells several different brands of performance bedding and sleepwear throughout retail stores nationally.•

The Indonesian Entrepreneurial Winning Women Class of 2012

Ida Widyastuti, Roemah Snack Mekarsari

Ida Widyastuti

Roemah Snack Mekarsari
Mekarsari, Indonesia

Ida Widyastuti started selling “emping snack” with an initial capital of only IDR 600.000 in a traditional market in Sidoarjo. When sales reached 300 tons per year, she recognized that there was a market for traditional Indonesian snack products. She then began branching out into different kinds of snacks via a collaboration with UKM and she expanded her business into other cities as well.•

Riezka Rahmatiana, Justmine Pisang Ijo

Riezka Rahmatiana

Justmine Pisang Ijo
Ezka Giga Pratama, Indonesia

Riezka Rahmatiana and her husband suffered many failed businesses before deciding to sell “Pisang Ijo” having gotten the recipe directly from the owner of “Makassar Sulawesi Restaurant,” thereby ensuring the best result for the product. After only two months, she developed an impressive turnover and invented the new “Pisang Ijo” variant durian, in addition to chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Starting with just two employees, in just four years, the company has grown to 40 employees and 210 outlets around Indonesia.•

Lisa Mihardja, Alleira Batik

Lisa Kurniawaty Mihardja

Alleira Batik
Jakarta, Indonesia

Alleira Batik was started in 2005 and successfully turned the traditional fabrics of Batik into clothes that look modern and trendy. There are now 42 boutiques all over Indonesia and the company is penetrating international markets such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia. Alleira Batik has sponsored and participated in many national and international events such as making the dress for Miss Universe Indonesia and Vietnam and the ASEAN Summit.•

Stephanie Hermawan, Arbor & Troy

Stephanie Hermawan

Arbor & Troy
Tirta Kencana Mas, Indonesia

Arbor & Troy focuses on modern and contemporary style with personalized comfort. Co-founded in 2006 with three other shareholders, the company currently has three business units: Furniture Retail, Furniture Rental, and Interior Design Service and has won awards such as “Best Local Furniture Brand” by Livingetc magazine in 2010.