For the second consecutive year, Wells Fargo and the National Black MBA Association have honored African American entrepreneurs with the NBMBAA/Wells Fargo Entrepreneur Excellence Award. This year's winners are Michael and Ramona Woods, owners of Greensboro, N.C.-based Ashtae Products, Inc.; and Laurna Godwin and Jessica Perkins, owners of Vector Communications Corporation in St. Louis.
The winners were honored and received $5,000 during the Entrepreneurs Institute Luncheon at the annual National Black MBA Association Conference in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 17. The winners were selected from a nationwide pool and were evaluated based on their companies' business performance, innovation, growth and personal service to the community. National Black MBA members who nominated the winners received $1,500.
Ashtae Products, Inc. is a multicultural hair care manufacturer with distribution throughout the U.S., Canada and Caribbean. Owners Michael and Ramona Woods started the International Hair & Business Symposium, bringing together about 500 professional cosmetologists from across the nation, and have also written a book, "Against the Grain," about their perseverance. The Woods are dedicated to serving their community, sponsoring projects including financial literacy and business planning seminars, and the Jessa-Maria Foundation, a non-profit organization helping underprivileged children. They recently started a minority business incubator at their Greensboro, North Carolina headquarters. Ashtae was nominated by JeVon Wilson, the vice president of operations for the Piedmont Triad chapter of the National Black MBA.