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UW-Madison alumna graduates as first U.S. participant in international business accelerator VV GROW: Amber Swenor

Feb. 27, 2019
Category: Leadership

Founder of Strategic Partners Marketing, Amber Swenor, has completed a year-long global business accelerator for women entrepreneurs.

2007 University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, Amber Swenor, was selected as the first to participate from the United States in the international cohort of 39 women business owners as a part of the Vital Voices signature business accelerator program, VV GROW. VV GROW partners with women leaders across the globe who use business growth to improve their community and world.

The global network strives to expand women’s access to markets and knowledge. VV GROW works with women leaders driven to build their influence beyond the business community, helping to making societal change possible.

Participants are selected based on their demonstrated business growth, commitment to serving their local regional and global communities, and potential for continued growth and prosperity.

Swenor was chosen as one of 39 fellows from a pool of almost 700 applicants. She is also the first from the United States to be selected to participate in the program.

About Amber Swenor
For several years, Swenor has been dedicated to ensuring that businesses of any size have access to marketing knowledge and resources. A Shawano-area native, Swenor grew up seeing the value that local business owners and local businesses brought to both the economy, and the spirit of community, and wanted to help them succeed.

Her business, Strategic Partners Marketing (SPM), partners with companies of all sizes to provide both high-level brand strategy and tactical-level execution of those strategies. In less than 3 years, Swenor has increased SPM’s revenue from $0 to over $1,000,000 and has grown the team to 7 employees.

Swenor also has expressed her commitment to supporting other entrepreneurs who are pursuing their dreams as new business owners but who may feel overwhelmed about where to turn for guidance and actionable education. As the first in her family to attend college and having worked three jobs at a time while advancing her career, Swenor knows and understands the struggles involved to overcome the daily grind as a part of the poor working class.

One way she accomplishes this is through Amberdella Coaching & Consulting. Through Amberdella, Swenor focuses on coaching entrepreneurs to fully realize the vision they have for themselves and their businesses.

“Growing up, I felt like I was climbing a steep hill, carrying a heavy backpack. Life felt hard, like I was grinding just to get by. Now that I’m achieving my goal of building a thriving company that serves others, while engaging not only strategic thinking, but ALSO, my heart-centered focus, I’ve taken off that heavy backpack. I’ve transformed how I show up as a leader in my business to lead from a place of greater joy and ease, and I teach others how to do the same. I guide other business leaders in transitioning from struggle, to transition into being leaders of profitable and thriving businesses, that are also deeply purposeful and impactful. It’s my personal mission to ensure that every passionate business owner has access to the strategic guidance and marketing resources that are needed to thrive in today’s business world.”

Swenor also has a 4-month group coaching program that guides entrepreneurs in getting clear on the vision they have for themselves, and building a notable and profitable high-impact business that supports their life vision.

In addition to contributing to the community, Swenor serves in leadership roles on several boards and committees, including her involvement in the Monona Eastside Business Alliance (MESBA), Doyenne Group, Dane Buy Local, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, and has volunteered with the Between the Waves Madison Songwriter Conference, and the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Man and Woman of the Year Campaign. She was previously recognized for her leadership and community involvement by BRAVA Magazine and InBusiness Madison, who named her a 2017 Woman to Watch and a 2017 40 Under 40, respectively.

VV GROW and What It Accomplishes
Research from the World Bank, Ernst & Young, and other institutions indicate that the real drivers of the global economy are women. As business leaders, employees, consumers, and entrepreneurs, women are accelerating economic growth and improving conditions in their communities. Despite the benefits of women’s economic engagement, women business owners face disproportionate barriers in growing their businesses: they have difficulty accessing business networks, technology, training, financing, markets, and equal protection under the law.

Vital Voices addresses these barriers through the VV GROW Fellowship, and Swenor participated in VVGrow in-person training in Dublin, Ireland in May 2018.

Vital Voices was founded as a government initiative in 1997 and today, is run as a non-profit. The VV GROW Fellowship was launched in 2013, is a global accelerator for women entrepreneurs, and is a competitive one-year global accelerator program for women owners of small and medium businesses. Through in-person training, fellows focus on strategy and long-term business value paired with action-oriented plans. They amplify their role as leaders in their businesses and their communities to create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth, and produce wider social benefits.

Fellows spend a full year engaging in training that examines all sides of their business to help fellows grow in leadership, build strategic networks, examine the current state of their business, and assess growth opportunities. Training involves weekly webinars, homework, 1-on-1 calls, and a week-long in-person workshop that brings together women business owners and trainers from around the world.

Madison is also home to Eugenia Podesta, UW-Madison alumna 2006 (JD and MA); 1998 BA. Eugenia is senior director of VV GROW and a founder of Synergy Coworking, a social enterprise on the west side of the city. Podesta has been part of Vital Voices for 12 years and has striven to support, expand, and diversify the entrepreneurial community with all that she does professionally in Madison and globally.

“We are at a critical time in in which entrepreneurship can be key to solving many of the social challenges we face. All of this change begins with leaders with a vision and the tools to making their dreams and impactful change a reality. For me, that is what brings it all together. My work with Vital Voices and Synergy are spurred by the great opportunity and responsibility we have to find different solutions to age-old challenges by supporting entrepreneurs, fostering ecosystem of support, and providing opportunities for continuous learning, collaboration and support. When I met Amber last year, I knew that she would be a great fit for VV GROW and for Vital Voices. She has an infectious energy and passion that does not go unnoticed. Most importantly, she sees her continuing success as an opportunity to give back and bring others up with her. That in essence is Vital Voices and Synergy, and I feel privileged to work with her.”

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