Since its launch in January 2022, the wmnsWORK Tourism Business Accelerator has now successfully completed its third cohort of women and non-binary individuals working to grow their tourism businesses. Founded by Iris Serbanescu, the 12-week virtual, global, equity-free accelerator program offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn directly from industry experts, build community, and receive the feedback they need to succeed in a supportive, constructive environment.
wmnsWORK was designed specifically for women and non-binary tourism entrepreneurs during the most critical part of their business journey – the early stages. This is arguably the most difficult time with many barriers faced – self-doubt, fear, lack of knowledge, and more. It is a time that requires the most support, encouragement, and knowledge-gathering as well as implementation. wmnsWORK provides a supportive, expert-led space to embrace idea-sharing, community and self-compassion in their businesses.
"The wmnsWORK accelerator program has so far been my safe haven and an invaluable resource for my adventure travel company to get off the ground and launch my services,” said Rosette DeKool, Founder & CEO of Culnity Adventures Uganda. “This program has offered me access to learning, guidance, mentorship and networking opportunities with like-minded entrepreneurs (amazing women) and many other resources that are essential and I’m super excited about the enormous chances for my business success by the end of Cohort 3."
The Adventure Travel Trade Association has partnered with wmnsWORK to elevate these grassroots businesses as a means of supporting and encouraging women and non-binary leadership in the tourism industry. Participants receive a one year ATTA Business Membership upon completion of the program, allowing them greater access to the adventure travel community, resources, and networking opportunities as they continue to grow their businesses.
"Our partnership with the ATTA and their generosity in offering a yearlong Business Membership to our cohort participants, is moving the needle on gender equity in two ways. First, by welcoming wmnsWORK participants into THEIR global community, it's creating a deeper sense of belonging and battling the loneliness that inevitably arises when navigating entrepreneurship,” Serbanescu said. “Second, it's creating a ripple effect by growing the confidence and networks of the types of business owners that we NEED leading this industry. We want to thank the ATTA for being a great supporter of businesses at the grassroots level who really benefit from the extra leg up at these early stages."
wmnsWORK offers a space for mentorship and camaraderie where people share ideas and experiences with one another. The community created through the wmnsWORK cohorts helps participants face the many barriers and challenges that arise during the critical early stages of their business with support and guidance from peers and industry leaders.
"The wmnsWORK accelerator program has been a true game-changer for me on my travel entrepreneur journey. Access to experts in various fields, including marketing, social media, mindfulness, and finance, in addition to an amazing mentor has been priceless,” said Theresa 'Akua' Powell, Founder of Dream Catcher Global. “With their help, I have been able to navigate the challenges of starting a new business in the travel industry and develop a business model that truly aligns with my vision and values. What's more, the program has given me a safe space to connect with like-minded individuals and overcome any feelings of imposter syndrome.”
Congratulations to these ten entrepreneurs with their diverse range of backgrounds and businesses that are finding their foothold and building an ever-growing presence in the tourism industry.
Theresa 'Akua' Powell
Based in Abu Dhabi, Theresa (Akua) Powell is the founder of Dream Catcher Global, a personal coaching and transformational travel company dedicated to helping women find fulfillment through the realization of their potential.
Based in the U.S., Tara Busch is the founder of Conscious Travel Collective, a travel company specializing in private small-group travel centered around the power of connection, for those seeking immersive and authentic experiences in vibrant destinations.
Smaranda Balut is the founder of The Slow Travellers, a B2B marketplace that connects local service providers with international tour operators interested in Romania as a slow travel destination.
Dr. Nadeen White is the founder of travel and lifestyle blog The Sophisticated Life and has recently launched a new branch of her brand called Culinary Travels, a collection of small affordable luxury group trips focused on food and wine to destinations all over the world.
Janna A. Zinzi
Janna A. Zinzi is the founder of Wander Womxn, a U.S. based travel guide and agency specializing in cultural and sustainable travel for women and femmes of color.
Heba Salama is the founder of Hekaya Africa, a niche boutique travel agency offering luxury African journeys to families, honeymooners and small groups.
Rosette DeKool is the CEO and founder of Culnity Adventures Uganda, an adventure travel company with a focus on slow and authentic travel solutions offering exquisite experiences such as sustainable wildlife safaris, trekking, cooking and walking tours to independent travelers and small private groups.
Lisa Malachowsky is the founder of Dive N Ride Adventures LLC, a travel company that takes LGBTQ+ travelers on epic motorcycle riding and scuba diving adventures around the world.
Jabulile Ngwenya, the founder of Travel Africa with Jabu, a travel coaching business whose ideal is to connect prospective travelers dealing with loss to community-led tourism initiatives in Africa.
Jennine Cohen is the Co-founder of Women Travel Leaders, a trusted/vetted community of top level female leaders in the travel industry. In addition to running WTL with her business partner, she is also a Senior Travel Designer for the high-end adventure travel company UNCHARTED. Jennine also plans to run a handful of wind sports retreats this year.
“I’ve had the privilege of meeting the individuals in these cohorts, to welcome them to the ATTA, and I have been continuously impressed with the diversity and innovation of their business concepts and the quality of the participants,” said Mira Poling Anselmi, Vice President of Community for ATTA. “It’s an honor to be a part of their journey and to welcome them into our international community.”
wmnsWORK is accepting applications for the next cohort, which runs from September 18th to December 8th. Folks who are interested in learning more and would like to apply can do so here.
wmnsWORK is an award-winning woman-owned and led tourism-specific virtual accelerator program for women and non-binary entrepreneurs worldwide. The 12-week program takes place twice annually and is based on three pillars to help its participants reach their goals: education (through weekly live masterclasses with industry experts, one-on-one mentorship, and peer support.
wmnsWORK proudly serves as an entrepreneurial ecosystem of peer encouragement, anti-oppressive values and directly applicable education for those in the early stage of their venture's development.
Inspired by a desire to curb future inequity, misogyny and inequality in the tourism industry, wmnsWORK aims to provide a safe space that embraces acceptance, idea-sharing and community support in concert with savvy, ethical business practices.
wmnsWORK is proud to be the recipient of the Wanderful Bessie Award in May 2023, for a brand that has gone above and beyond to support, empower, and represent women in the past year.