Leadership

Melissa Bradley: Helping Women and People of Color Scale Their Businesses

Melissa Bradley

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Hi there, my name is Spiffy, I’m an interplanetary journalist hanging out on Planet Earth. Today I’m in Washington DC to meet an entrepreneur that’s steadily working on UN SDG 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth. Help me welcome Melissa Bradley, co-founder and Head of Impact at Ureeka. Are you ready to be inspired?

Spiffy: Welcome, Melissa, I’m excited to talk to you! Can you start by telling me about the challenge you’re addressing?

Melissa: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! The mission of Ureeka is to help Next Wave entrepreneurs—women and people of color—grow and scale their businesses to create wealth and employment in their communities.

Spiffy: What motivated you to embark on this entrepreneurial journey with Ureeka?

Melissa: Well, Spiffy, as a woman and person of color who was an entrepreneur, I was tired of hearing “no,” and not receiving the appropriate support needed to be successful.

Spiffy: And so you created the support network you initially needed? That’s amazing! How would you say Ureeka is working to create a more equitable world?

Melissa: Ureeka focuses its work on women and entrepreneurs of color. By providing culturally competent training and support we help entrepreneurs scale their businesses. Over 85% of our members are women/people of color.

Spiffy: Are there any recent milestones you’ve reached that you’re really excited about?

Melissa: Post COVID and the death of George Floyd, we have deployed over $150 million in grant support to entrepreneurs of color.

Spiffy: I’m curious if you’ve ever experienced failure? What did you learn from it?

Melissa: Well, Spiffy, when I started my first business, a SCORE volunteer told me I would never be successful because I was Black and a female entrepreneur. Despite her skepticism, and lack of approval for a loan, I started my company anyway and had an exit within three years.

Spiffy: Well, I have no doubt you will keep doing amazing things and pay it forward to other people of color and women who are embarking on their entrepreneurial paths! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me, Melissa, it’s been an honor.

Melissa L. Bradley is a co-founder of venture-backed Ureeka, a community where small businesses gain unprecedented access to the expertise needed to grow their business. The Ureeka mission is to democratize economic opportunity by enabling community and by reducing the cost and risk associated with growing a small to medium business (SMB). (Nominated by Gaingels. First published on the Ladderworks website on June 10, 2021.)

© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Ladderworks

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse stories with the mission to inspire (at least) a million kids and youth around the world to become entrepreneurs with empathy.

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