Cynthia D. Washington, President of Washington Concepts, Inc. (WCI)

Cynthia D. Washington is President of Washington Concepts, Inc. (WCI) and the Creator of the WCI Government Contracting NETWORKTM.  She has developed a company that is known worldwide for Making Entrepreneurial Success and Government Contracting SIMPLETM. Over 20 years ago, she solved a huge problem in the Federal Contracting Arena and decided to travel around the Nation helping Small, Minority, Veteran and Women-Owned Businesses WIN Contracts.  WCI is still known as a company unmatched in its ability to provide expert business development, training and technical assistance to small businesses, while helping the Federal, State/Local Government and Private Entities meet their Socioeconomic and Diversity Goals.

The WCI Government Contracting NETWORKTM is used worldwide and was specifically designed to ensure that Government and Private Entity Procurement and Program Officials meet their Socio-Economic and Diversity Goals.  These Officials in The NETWORK depend on WCI when they are interested in “Connecting” with Procurement-Ready, Prescreened and Qualified Vendors and are dedicated to creating more opportunities for Small Businesses.  WCI has built relationships with Government and Private Entity Officials who want to do business with Small Businesses.  WCI Makes Entrepreneurial Success and Government Contracting SIMPLE!

WCI provides Government Services, Training, and Business Development around the world to Small Businesses interested in Bridging Markets Worldwide. Over the years, WCI has devised more products and services, which will provide Small, Minority, Veteran, and Women-Owned Businesses (SMVWOBs) and Government and Private Entities with results-driven ideas to accomplish their goals of “Connecting”. Mrs. Washington has “Led the Charge” in the Government Contracting Industry for the past 20 Years, designing innovative and effective strategies that continue to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Mrs. Washington has been given many accolades for her dedication and determination to serve the Small Business Community with results-driven business development. Through WCI’s innovative products and services designed to support the Government’s efforts to provide Contracting Opportunities, Outreach, Training, and Financing to Small Businesses, Mrs. Washington has been able to maintain the longevity necessary to succeed in business.  Just last year, she was awarded the Small Business Executive of the Year by Minority Enterprise Association Magazine.    She has been awarded Small Business Woman-Owned Business of the Year by MED Week in the US Dept. of Commerce and because of her efforts; WCI is the only for-profit Firm to ever have a Co-Sponsorship with the US Small Business Administration. For two years, WCI and the SBA offered instructional and information-packed Government Contracting Made SIMPLETM Seminars, custom designed by the expertise of Mrs. Washington. With her vast amount of Resources and Expert Advisors, she has also created a demand that is still going strong in the Government Contracting Arena, 20 years later.

WCI publishes its own Entrepreneurial Success and Government Contracting Made SIMPLETM eGuides and has expanded its effort to support the SBA by providing information-packed and effective Training Services to the U.S. Small Business Administration and its SBDCs, the US Dept. of Commerce’s MBDA, Prince George’s Community College, University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, Towson University, Howard University, Major Development Projects and Federal Agencies around the Nation. Because she created these publications, Mrs. Washington is in great demand as she lectures on the importance of Creating Entrepreneurs through Government Contracting.

D.E. Scorpio Corporation Bid Opportunity

Project: Pi Kappa Phi New Fraternity House at UF Gainesville

Questions Due by: Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bid Due Date: Thursday, June 1, 2017 by 2:00pm

The D.E. Scorpio Corporation is accepting final pricing with voluntary value engineering for a new 2-story, 16,800 sf, 46 bed fraternity house located on the UF campus. Bidders must acknowledge spec sections 01 21 00 – Allowances, and 01 23 00 – Alternates. Construction is to begin June/July 2017.

Building demolition, cast in place concrete, masonry, cast stone, structural steel, ornamental metals, rough carpentry, pre-engineered wood trusses, casework, finish carpentry, waterproofing, insulation, roofing (shingles, membrane, and standing seam), fiber cement soffits, doors/frames/hardware, overhead coiling doors, clad windows and doors, drywall, stucco, FRP, painting, flooring, epoxy flooring, miscellaneous specialties, exterior signage, postal specialties, window treatments, quartz countertops, elevator, fire protection, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, site work, soil treatment, fencing, landscape, hardscapes/pavers, site furnishings.

Bid Documents HERE.

For additional info, contact Todd Brock or Chris Gregory at bids@DEScorpioCorp.com.


InnovateHER Challenge 2017

The U.S. Small Business Administration is searching for innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families.


The SBA 2017 InnovateHER Challenge is open to aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs with businesses representing innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families. Through the competition, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is seeking to amplify products or services that fill a need in the marketplace and have the potential for commercialization. UF Small Business & Vendor Diversity Relations and SBA – North Florida Office are local co-hosts to the competition and adhere to the rules and criteria as established by the SBA.

Key Dates:
Friday, May 19th – Applications Due
Friday, May 26th – Applicants Notified
Saturday, June 3rd – Pitch Event – Winner/National Nominee selected
               Time: 10am – 3pm
               Location: UF East Campus – 2046 NE Waldo Rd, Suite 3201 Gainesville, FL 32609

Download the Application »

Click here for more information.

Small Business Trends To Use In Your Company

Leveraging technology is on the uptick for most small companies and entrepreneurs. The definition and level of technology is different for each organization. Bottomline, regardless of what technology is used, entrepreneurs need to stay on their toes and updates with changes that may affect their business.

After working with many small businesses and entrepreneurs, we can share useful trends to implement for the remainder of the year and beyond.

Automation of Internal Systems
Sure, automation in itself isn’t really anything new but with companies like IFTT and Zapier, they make automation more accessible with low or minimal costs. If businesses properly utilize automation, it reduces manual labor cost, risk of error, and allows employees to focus on important growth areas. Also, employees will appreciate the opportunity to do less repetitive and mundane work so they can grow professionally and creatively within the business.

Increased Use of Artificial Intelligence
As discussed in the previous paragraph, workflow automations are huge for small businesses in 2017. From data collecting chat bots to other on-demand services, this is something that is well on it’s way to becoming ordinary and standardized in small business.

More Mobile
We are always on the go with so many demands and needs pulling our attention. What better way to reach and engage with your customers where they are, mobile. Remember, many of us are now making purchasing decisions, conducting research, and comparing products/services straight from our tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

Video Content Growth
A medium consistently picking up steam is video content. Customers are able to quickly digest your message through compelling video content. If your videos are attractive and hold the attention of your viewers, you’ll keep them company back to learn more from your company and what it has to offer.

Improved Consumer Relations
Through the improvement and introduction of accessible CRM (Client Relation Management) systems, businesses can do a better job of understanding their customers needs and responses faster than ever.

As an entrepreneur in 2017, how do you think these trends can improve your business for the better? If you are unfamiliar with systems that can help your business to automate and push itself forward by leveraging technology, reach out to your helpful community resources.

By Nadia Alcide of Simply Sociable

Simply Sociable is a boutique administrative consulting firm that understands the importance of leveraging the internet and technology. Simply Sociable specializes in helping small businesses and entrepreneurs to work on their business instead of in it. Nadia Alcide is the founder and a University of Florida alumni.

Division at UF seeks to promote women-owned businesses

The University of Florida has a robust program to engage small, minority and women-owned businesses. The Division of Small Business and Vendor Diversity Relations (SBVDR), led by Director Kathey Porter, is charged with identifying small, minority and women-owned businesses to do business with UF and implement programs to increase their long-term viability and success. A noted small business development and entrepreneurship expert, Porter is a frequently sought after speaker/panelist for insights on increasing opportunities for women-owned businesses.

“I have been an entrepreneur and have worked with entrepreneurs for a number of years now. The University of Florida is very proactive about increasing opportunities for small businesses and has a variety of programs designed to increase their utilization,” said Porter.

Porter was recently invited to attend the inaugural White House United State of Women Summit in Washington DC. “I cannot tell you how impactful the event was. It made me more determined than ever to create a dynamic entrepreneurial community and support a local ecosystem for women entrepreneurs who are armed, ready and excited about doing business.”

Women-owned businesses represent a tremendous opportunity for the University of Florida. According to the 2014 State of Women Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express, as of 2014, there were nearly 9.1 million women-owned enterprises, employing nearly 7.9 million workers and generating over $1.4 trillion in revenues. Between 1997 and 2014, the number of women-owned firms grew at 1.5 times the national average. Additionally, revenue and employment growth among women-owned firms tops that of all other firms (with the exception of the country’s largest, publicly traded corporations).

Based on these statistics, Porter feels UF has an excellent opportunity to increase engagement amongst this group. One of the ways she plans to do this is through the upcoming Women’s Entrepreneurship + Leadership Conference to be held in October in celebration of Women’s Small Business Month. This event will target women entrepreneurs in the greater Gainesville area, as well as from surrounding areas including Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Tallahassee. The purpose of this event is, firstly, to raise awareness about opportunities that exist for female business owners with entities such as the University of Florida and, secondly, to get them excited about entrepreneurship and growing their businesses.

“I am very excited about the future for women-owned businesses in this area. By using available resources such as OSD, the University of Florida and others, women-owned businesses in our area have every opportunity for growth and success,” said Porter.

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Tips To Effectively Delegate To Your Team Members

Delegation, what does it mean to you as a business owner or processional? Do you feel like you are an expert or can you always improve how you delegate to your team members? The synonyms for delegation are entrusting, giving, and transference. There is both an art and science to proper delegation. Of course, not all employees will have the same passion for the business as an entrepreneur might but the entrepreneur must trust those on their team working toward company mission statements, visions, and goals.

First start delegating in a S.M.A.R.T. way.

S : Specific

M : Measurable

A : Agreed

R : Realistic

T : Time bound

If you take the time to go through each step as the person doing the delegation, the outcome should be what you expect versus a vision of what you thought you should expect from assigning the task. An entrepreneur is limited on time. But think about it, would you rather explain properly upfront or repeat yourself multiple times only to become frustrated and stressed in the end? The common sense answer should be no but everyone is different. However, if growth and making life a bit easier is the aim, delegate and do it well.

While using the SMART way, be sure to include the following checklist to cross check for any missing information.

  1. Define your task
  2. Decide who you will delegate to (based on availability and skill set)
  3. Make sure they have tools, materials, skills
  4. Explain Task Well
  5. State Expected Results
  6. Agree on Deadline or Actionable Items Timeline

If you already do something like this with your team, great! But if your process could use room for improvement, try them, you might notice a difference. If you do have tips that work for you whether it be about delegation, contractor management, employees, and general business growth, we’d love to hear from you. Your feedback and featured input is valuable to our small business and vendor community.

By Nadia Alcide of Simply Sociable

Simply Sociable is a boutique administrative consulting firm that understands the importance of leveraging the internet and technology. Simply Sociable specializes in helping small businesses and entrepreneurs to work on their business instead of in it. Nadia Alcide is the founder and a University of Florida alumni.

Luncheon Keynote Speaker

Alvin J. Cowans, CCUE, serving as President/CEO since November 1985 of McCoy Federal Credit Union in Orlando, Florida and has been in the financial industry since 1978. McCoy Federal is a large community credit union with over $549 million in assets as of February 2017. The Credit Union’s field of membership is the Orlando MSA serving Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake Counties.

Alvin earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida in 1977. He was a four-year letter winner for the Fighting Gator Football Team 1973 to 1976 and was Co-Captain in 1976. Was selected as All-Southeastern Conference Defensive Back, and to the Senior Bowl in 1976. A 10th Round Draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1977 and a Free Agent pick for the Washington Redskins in 1978. He was inducted into the University of Florida Gator Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003. His involvement with UF has included serving on the Presidency of the Letterman’s Association, Director of Gator Boosters and as a Director for two terms for the University of Florida Foundation, Inc.

He is a Graduate of the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Orlando Program. He furthered his professional Credit Union education by graduating from the Florida Credit Union League Management Institute, CUNA’s Advanced Management Institute, and obtaining the designation of Certified Credit Union Executive (CCUE).

Alvin was named to the Official Registry of the “Outstanding Young Men of America” and the Who’s Who of American Business Leaders. He was selected into the Who’s Who In America’s Credit Unions.

He served the maximum nine years as Region III Director for the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) a trade association in Washington, DC.

In 2015 Alvin was appointed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta to serve on their Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council for a three-year term. In 2013 Alvin was appointed to a second four-year term as a Director for the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, and has served as various Board Officers as well as currently serving as Chairman. He served on the Board and as a Chairman of the Board of Directors of CU24 Inc. (Credit Union ATM Network). Alvin was appointed by the Mayor City of Orlando to the City’s Finance Committee and has been serving since 2009.

Alvin was appointed by the President of the United States William J. Clinton, to a three (3) year term on the Federal Reserves’, Consumer Advisory Council (CAC). He was appointed by Florida Governor Bob Graham to the Valencia Community College Board of Trustee and served two years.

Alvin is serving and has served with various community organizations in a multitude of capacities over his 40 years in the Orlando area.

He is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha, the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternities and the 100 Blackmen of Orlando.  April 2011 he was inducted as an honorary member of the Florida Blue Key.

Alvin Cowans is married to UF Graduate Shirley S. Cowans. They have two sons, Dr. Alvin Jeffrey Cowans, II and Marcus A. Cowans and one grandson, Marcus A. Cowans, II.

Tips for Business Success: Women’s History Month Edition

As we come toward the end of Women’s History month, we are taking the opportunity to share a few tips to help small businesses and women entrepreneurs as they navigate their way to success. Owning a small business carries it’s perks but running one successfully has its challenges too. Here are a few tips you can use to support the success and growth of your business.

Build A Supportive Network
“Your network is your net worth”. Use your network as a reliable support system. Seek the advice of fellow business owners or mentors who can understand what you are going through. They’ve more than likely been through the same situation or they’re willing to help you navigate.So how do you start or build your network? Get out there and join business/professional groups. These groups intentionally create programming to get likeminded people together to exchange ideas, businesses, and provide a listening ear for business owners. An example of something like this would be your area university and chamber of commerce events.

Never Stop Learning
Don’t rest on your laurels as an entrepreneur. With the internet and new technologies introduced everyday, embrace change. The best way to stay ahead of trends is through seeking constant education. By education, we aren’t talking about something formal, it could just be an industry specific report and article. Challenge yourself to depart from your comfort zone to stay ahead of trends in your industry. Attend workshops, conferences and seminars to get the full download on a recurring basis. Remaining abreast of changes will differentiate you and your competition by leaps and bounds.

Learn to Delegate
While running a business it is so easy to take on too much. Yes, you are the most passionate person in your business, but it is within the best interest to give it the opportunity to grow. Many entrepreneurs are guilty of superwom(an) syndrome where they think they can do it all. Having this syndrome robs the entrepreneur of balance, time, and creativity. Business owners must delegate work to an outsourced vendor or an employee. In a sense, like duplicating themselves. Before you delegate, you must go through the proper steps to find a trustworthy employee or vendor partner, like a virtual assistant or project manager to lighten the load. Remember, it is important to give more important responsibilities gradually, it will make them feel more loyal to the business and its wins.

Know Your Business Identity
Branding is such an important buzz word these days with the heightened use of “always in your face” social media platforms. Define your business and brand from the start, be consistent with your messaging and what services or products you offer. At the beginning, it is very tempting to sway with the wind and go outside of your scope of work to bring in extra money. Do your best to remain focused. Stretching yourself and business too thin or providing mediocre work can carry negative effects on the business you worked so hard to build. Your business is not for all and that’s ok, define your niche as early as you can. If you found these tips useful for your business, share them with other entrepreneurs. UF Small Business and Vendor Diversity Relations provides an array of useful workshops and resources with continuous support along the way. We’d love to know if you have more tips you could share with our community.

Feel free to email Nadia at Simply Sociable or the UF SBVDR.

Women Trailblazers !

“A Timeline Of Women And Wealth: The First Female Millionaires, Billionaires & CEOs And The Policies That Paved The Way For Them”


If you had to write a resume for Isabel Benham (1909-2013), it would contain some notable “firsts.” In the 1930s, she was the the first woman on Wall Street to study the male-dominated railroad industry. In 1964, she became the first female partner at a Wall Street bond firm, according to the Museum of American Finance. But early in her career, she’d sign her name as “I. Hamilton Benham” to avoid discrimination.While generations of women before and after took risks to achieve wealth in their respective industries, many like Benham also had to navigate a culture of inequity to get there. Here is a brief history of women in finance, business, politics and entrepreneurship — and the policies that paved the way for them:

FIRST IN FINANCE: Victoria Woodhull may be considered the First Lady of Finance. In 1870, she and her sister Tennessee Claflin opened Woodhull, Claflin & Co., becoming the first female stockbrokers on Wall Street. They, however, never gained a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, something no woman would achieve until 1967. Woodhull would also be the first woman to run for U.S. president.

Ellen Swallow Richards was the first woman admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (which made her the first woman to be accepted into a science and technology school). She graduated from there in 1873 then became its first female teacher as an instructor in sanitary chemistry. In 1876 she established the Women’s Laboratory, a facility at MIT.

Sarah Breedlove was celebrated as the country’s first female self-made millionaire, according to her New York Times obituary. The orphan was born to freed slaves; she later invented and sold homemade hair-care products to black women through the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Breedlove built a factory, a laboratory and a beauty school to train sales agents.

Lettie Pate Whitehead was appointed to the board of The Coca-Cola Company in 1934 and one of the first women to serve on the board of a major corporation. She held the position for nearly two decades. Her husband founded the first Coca-Cola bottling facilities. After his death, she took over the business and expanded her family’s wealth by founding the Whitehead Holding Company and the Whitehead Realty Company. Before her death, she established a foundation and gave to numerous charities in Virginia and Georgia.FIRST CEOs: Katharine Graham becomes president of The Washington Post, then a small family-owned newspaper. By the early ‘70s she would become CEO and the first woman to lead a major U.S. corporation. She supported investigations into the Watergate scandal which would lead to the resignation of President Nixon. By the time Graham stepped down as CEO in 1991, The Washington Post would grow into a media conglomerate with newspaper, magazine, television and cable businesses. The following decades would usher in more first-female CEOs of major companies, including Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo. Carly Fiorina would become the first woman to lead a company listed in the Dow Jones Industrial Average when she became CEO and president of HP in 1999, according to the Washington Post.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963
passes, requiring that men and women receive equal pay for equal work in the same company. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission specifies: “It is job content, not job titles, that determines whether jobs are substantially equal. Specifically, the EPA provides that employers may not pay unequal wages to men and women who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions within the same establishment.”

FINANCE: On December 28, 1967 Muriel Siebert became the first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, the only woman among 1,365 men on the trading floor, according to the Museum of American Finance. Until then, women were only permitted on the NYSE trading floor as clerks and pages to fill shortages during World War II and the Korean War. She donated millions of dollars from her brokerage and securities underwriting business to help other women get their start in business and finance. In 1977, Siebert became the first female Superintendant of Banks for New York, overseeing all of the state’s banks, which had about $500 billion of assets under management, according to the MoAF. Not a single bank failed during her tenure.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 served as an update to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law prohibits sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.

The Family and Medical Leave Act. Passed in 1994, this law requires certain employers to grant up to 12 weeks of leave during a 12 month period to eligible employees who need time off from work because of a “serious health condition” that they or someone in their family is experiencing. This sometimes overlaps with Title VII requirements concerning leave for pregnancy.

FIRST IN MUSIC: Aretha Franklin is first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With a background in gospel music, The Queen of Soul was signed to recording companies like Columbia, Arista and Atlantic Records. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Franklin’s greatest triumph –and an enduring milestone in popular music – was her hit song “Respect.”

Executive Order 13157 was signed by President Clinton in 2000 to increase opportunities for women-owned small businesses. It charged the Small Business Administration to work with each federal agency to identify contracting opportunities for businesses owned by female entrepreneurs.

FIRST BILLIONAIRE: In 2000, Martha Stewart became America’s first self-made female billionaire. She first hit billionaire status in 2000 after taking her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, public a year earlier. She made her way back to the Forbes Rich List in 2005, during her infamous five-month jail term.

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was an update to The Equal Pay Act. The amendment states that “Wages can include more than just hourly or annual pay. Wages includes bonuses, company cars, expense accounts, insurance etc.”According to the EEOC: “This law overturned the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc.,(2007), which severely restricted the time period for filing complaints of employment discrimination concerning compensation.”

A HOLLYWOOD-FIRST: Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first female to win the Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker. The Iraq war film also won six academy awards that night, including best picture and best original screenplay. The independent movie beat Avatar and other major-motion productions for best film. Bigelow also became the first woman to win the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing.

GOING GLOBAL: In 2007 Christine LaGarde of France became the first woman to hold the post of Finance and Economy Minister of a G-7 country. On July 5, 2011, Lagarde would shatter another glass-ceiling when she became the eleventh Managing Director of the IMF, the first woman to take that title.

THE BIG 3 And THE BIG 4: In 2013, Mary Barra is appointed to CEO of General Motors, making her the first female to lead a Big 3 Automaker.

In February 2015, Cathy Engelbert becomes CEO of Deloitte.

The following April, KPMG names Lynne Doughtie as CEO, meaning women now lead half of the Big Four accounting firms.

CENTRAL BANK: The Senate confirms President Obama’s nomination for Janet Yellen as chairperson of the Federal Reserve — the first woman to take over the top spot in the 100-year history of the U.S. central bank, or any major central bank. Yellen is also the first Democratic nominee to run the Fed since Paul Volcker became chairman in 1979 (under Jimmy Carter).

ERA OF ENTREPRENEURS: Oprah becomes the first African-American female billionaire. The former television host turned media mogul founded OWN cable network and has a 10% stake in Weight Watchers.She is currently America’s highest-paid female celebrity, worth roughly $3 billion.

TODAY IN ASIA: Four decades ago, Yoshiko Shinohara – armed with a high school degree and secretarial experience – started a temp-staffing company in her one-bedroom Tokyo apartment. Now, at age 82, she’s become Japan’s first self-made woman billionaire. She recently retired as chairman of staffing company Temp Holdings, which had revenues of $4.5 billion last year.

TODAY IN AFRICA: Forbes counts only two female billionaires in Africa, including Folorunsho Alakija, the continent’s first self-made woman to make the list. She is the vice chair of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company that partners with Chevron and Petrobras. Her first company was a fashion label that catered to Nigeria’s elite women.


Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017
Reitz Union Grand Ballroom
Non-UF Attendee: $75 (Early-Bird $55)


 The UF Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center proudly invites students, staff, faculty, and members of the community to attend the 2017 Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium. Come learn, network & celebrate the empowering potential of women’s entrepreneurship. This event will feature speakers and panels, with a keynote presentation by Barbara Baekgaard, co-founder of Vera Bradley.

“Women changing the world one venture at a time”


For Additional Information, please contact Susana Santos or call 352.273.0328.

Be sure to Register Today!