Unleashing African Women's Economic Potential

Our Dream Team

Small Business Development Instructor

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Frankie Roe: Innovative, inspiring, passionate, and professional is exactly what you get when you collaborate with F.R.E.E (Frankie Roe Exhorting Enterprises). Frankie's purpose is to inspire others to imagine the possibilities, leap fearlessly, and soar like an eagle in their mind, body and spirit.  Frankie Roe is an author, speaker, self-care enthusiast, and online marketing entrepreneur. When Frankie entered her teen years, she realized her passion for inspiring others and more recently her God-given gift of exhortation, and how her gifts motivate, empower, and incite others to action. When deciding what business venture to pursue she completed a life-map activity. Frankie has done scores of these with clients and she knew it was time to revisit the exercise. The consistent theme within her employment history and business endeavors was motivating and encouraging people. Not only was it a theme but it is truly a way of life for her. Today she helps women embrace self-care, accomplish goals and live the life they have always envisioned. It is really rewarding to improve the quality of someone's life by inspiring them to be more, do more and have more of what is going to help them get real results. Frankie Roe has dedicated thousands of hours to helping others achieve freedom, success, and organization in their personal and professional lives, and she has inspired many to imagine, leap and soar while on their freedom journey.

Founder / Executive Director

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Nourah Yonous: Nourah Yonous has roots deeply embedded in social justice work, particularly in gender/racial equity and cross cultural-multifaceted-intersectional grassroots community development. Nourah is a Founder and Executive Director at African Women Business Alliance, (AWBA) a culturally responsive platform that creates and foster community and inclusive economy for African women diaspora and their full potential in business development and entrepreneurship. Nourah also works at Nonprofit Assistance Center- as a Capacity Building Program Manager where she brings a decade of advocacy experience in the Global South Feminism/Gender Activism working in, and outside the nonprofit sector. She serves as a board member at SouthEast Effective Development (SEED) and Voices of Tomorrow, a local grassroots organization focusing on early learning systems of change. Nourah is also a Community Leadership Institute Fellow at Puget Sound Sage. Nourah holds Two BA's in Political Science, Feminist Studies/Theory, and Legal Studies/Pre law with a concentration on law, gender politics, and social change from University of California Santa Cruz, UCSC and plans on pursuing her MPP/MPA at Seattle University. Nourah’s own immigrant narrative and trajectory has shaped her life’s mission work, which centers global south/black feminism and deeply connects with Audre Lorde’s work on intersectionality: ”There’s no hierarchy of oppression. There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” Nourah is also a proud mother to her champ, Abdel’Razak. She loves dancing and enjoys teaching Zumba when she has the time. 

Board Members

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Kathy Fowells is Art Director at SouthEast Effective Development SEED. She has always been passionate about creating economic opportunities for artists. She lived in southern Africa for 4 years, consulting with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and numerous artist cooperatives to improve the economic vitality of the arts. She was awarded a Fulbright research grant to document this work. When she returned to Seattle in 1995, she opened Mwoyo Arts, a gallery that featured contemporary art from southern Africa. Fowells holds an MBA degree from Seattle University and a Bachelors of International Studies with a focus on Economic Development.

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Niesha Brooks:  Niesha Fort has been with Beechers Pure Fook Kids Foundation since January 2015 and brings a diverse set of skills and experiences as a board member for the African Women Business Alliance—from serving as a college mentor to high school students in Ghana, West Africa, to her work as a volunteer with the Ethiopian Community in Seattle. A graduate of California State University-Sacramento, Niesha also was trained in mediation, negotiation, and peace-building through the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution at California State University – Sacramento. Niesha and her Husband have been living in Seattle for 16 years and have one daughter.

Brukab Sisay:  Brukab is first and foremost a student of Pan-Africanism, immigration & black diasporic resistance cultures. He is a graduate student working towards his doctorate in African Diaspora Studies and aspires to teach and conduct research impacting the African diaspora in the northwest. He is a resident of Tukwila, WA, and currently lectures at the University of Washington, Seattle in the Department of American Ethnic Studies. 

Advisory Board

Bill Unger

Bill Unger

With 30 years in the venture industry, helping new ideas become significant companies, and the last 15 years learning what works, and what does not work, to change lives in the developing world. 

After graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Bill began his career as a Special Education teacher, then worked in Community Mental Health programs before becoming an Executive Recruiter and then co-founding his own firm. He joined Mayfield Fund in 1983. He served in leadership positions on many corporate and not-for profit boards, and continues to advise early stage technology companies.

Representative investments include Sandisk (SNDK), Silicon Architects (acquired by Synopsys (SNPS), Calico Commerce (acquired by Oracle(ORCL), Newport Communications (acquired by Broadcom (BRCM), Stream Machine (acquired by Cirrus Logic (CRUS), Simplex Solutions (acquired by Cadence (CDN), Excess Bandwidth Corporation (acquired by Virata (VRTA), Verplex Design Systems (acquired by Cadence (CDN), Nextest (acquired by Teradyne (TER), Sabio Labs (acquired by Magma (LAVA) and Berkeley Design Automation (acquired by Mentor Graphics (MENT). 

Bill’s current philanthropic activities include; Board member of CARE USA, CARE Enterprises LLC, Microvest, D-Rev, and Wildlife Conservation Network, and he serves on the Deans’ Advisory Board of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Other organizations he has served include; past board chair of the Career Action Center, YouthNoise, and former Vice Chairman of the Anita Borg Institute. He was an advisor to the Dean of Engineering of University of California at Berkeley, a member of The Philanthropy Workshop and Legacy Ventures, and is an active supporter of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

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Mariama Camara

Mariama Mounir Camara-Petrolawicz is one of the most influential rising African women. Her inspiring presence reflects her power, optimism and energy. Her entrepreneurial spirit and humanitarian work has led her to mingle with some of the most influential individuals in the business, entertainment, political, and nonprofit sectors.
Mariama is a voice of her country Guinea and fights to ensure hidden voices are heard. Her career experience includes working in fashion, cosmetology, and public relations.

Mariama is also the President of Mariama Fashion Production. She has readily given her support and voice to worthy causes dedicated to ending violence against women, breast cancer, and diabetes. She also supports organizations bringing change to developing countries, and has participated in high-level meetings including those organized by the World Food Program, Feed the Future and World Pneumonia Day.

Our Evolving Story

10 years ago, in 2007, our founder was a young immigrant woman/mother and still new to the country - living in Oakland, California where she worked hard and wanted to start a small business to own her financial security; and to follow her passion of supporting artisans in Tanzania, in order- to build bridges and create a hub for African cultural aesthetic-in handcrafted/custom wooden furniture business in America.  She was introduced to The Women's Initiative org-where she joined and graduated from a ten-week course: Simple Steps to Start, Strengthen or Grow a Small Business. She self financed, launched her business, identified her target market, finished her business plan, manufactured and shipped her products ready to sell. She couldn't afford a store-front and she struggled to sell online. She ended up losing more money she couldn't afford to waste.  Due to many challenges contributed by her own personal life then, but also systemic barriers and restrictions fueled by sexism and racism, she decided to put her dreams on hold and pursued college instead. 5 years later she found herself still challenged to fit in as an African immigrant woman; but nonetheless, she was truly grateful and happy exploring, learning, and growing at University of California Santa Cruz where she re-discovered herself anew-majoring in Feminist Studies, Political Science, and Pre-Law. In 2001,  her beloved and beautiful home country of Somalia was hit yet again, by recurring and man-made  worst famine in history so she travelled to the largest refugee camp in the world, Dadaab, where she conducted research and focused on Somali Women in Conflict Zone and Sustainable Development. There she re-discovered herself anew again, this time with a strong will power to fight cyclical-intergenerational poverty contributed by colonialism/imperialism/ and ill structural legacies of patriarchy and corruption. She wanted to move back home and work with Small-Scale Women Farmers in East Africa in order to fight poverty and famine. She's still working on this dream but because she had a child in America and was still in school/wanted to pursue grad school, she yet again had to put her dreams (on hold) and decided to move to Seattle after college graduation. Seattle was very attractive to her social justice lens and progressive nature. She also wanted to work with/be connected to her community of Somali immigrant population, (the third largest Somali population in the nation.)

·       Surprisingly, Seattle wasn't/isn't as progressive as she thought, oppressive structures of power and systemic barriers are still haunting her vulnerable community of African immigrants/black diaspora and people of color in general. Access and opportunities isn't available to all. 

·       In Seattle she saw the same barriers and systemic gaps preventing African women immigrants from pursuing their fullest potential in entrepreneurship and small business development. She then spent 4 months of her time and out of pocket expenses to collect surveys and conduct focused groups with existing African immigrant women-small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with great help from her husband and son; in producing a facility study/report to determine community's needs and assessment. In honor of her beloved mother who died from a preventable disease at 45, and all women who came before her, Nourah  launched African Women Business Alliance, a holistic/culturally responsive platform for inclusive economy and entrepreneurship geared towards black women diaspora for gender and racial equity in business development. Few months later we changed our mission to include all black women diaspora and not just African immigrant women. 

·       If you read this far, THANK YOU! Thank you for visiting our digital foot print and for joining our movement. We hope to build, create, learn, and grow with you as we collectively strive to work hard for a more just and equitable world.  

·       We are here: The Puget Sound is a dynamic, multicultural, beautiful home to a diverse pool of people with great talents, resilience, and strength from all walks of life. The King County Demographics-Census Bureau of 2012 proved King County to be one of the most diverse counties in America, with half of its children being children of color and more than half of its population being immigrants (foreign born).

·       The King County African immigrant population continues to rapidly grow, contributing to the social, economic, political, and cultural fabric of Washington State as a whole. Widening gender and racial gap in business development and entrepreneurship remain stagnant. We strive to create safe space, culturally appropriate, and welcoming environment for our demographic who may/may not fit in the main stream resource allocation.