School of Business board member mentors aspiring female entrepreneurs

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Through several ventures, including the SheEO Academy and the Women in Business Initiative (WIBI) at the School of Business, DeShawn Robinson-Chew puts her passion into practice by educating and empowering young women interested in entrepreneurship.

As the founder and owner of SheEO Academy, DeShawn Robinson-Chew has dedicated her career to mentoring and inspiring girls to pursue entrepreneurship. Throughout her childhood, she recognized that many of her family members owned businesses. It wasn’t until she enrolled in college that she learned it was called entrepreneurship, and that she had similar interests and personality traits. In addition to founding and owning SheEO Academy, Robinson-Chew is a public speaker, adjunct professor, workshop facilitator, published author, and member at large of membership for George Mason University School of Business’s Women in Business Initiative (WIBI).

DeShawn Robinson-Chew puts her passion into practice by educating and empowering young women interested in entrepreneurship.
DeShawn Robinson-Chew

Prior to founding SheEO Academy, Robinson-Chew served as the director at the Women’s Business Center at the Community Business Partnership, where she would hear from countless women about their struggles regarding entrepreneurship, how they weren’t always able to pursue their passions because of seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their lives. Inspired and determined, she founded SheEO Academy in 2003. “I realized that we need to introduce entrepreneurship to girls instead of just women, to plant that seed early and have it normalized,” she says. Since the birth of the Academy, she has witnessed many of those mentees blossom. Young “girl” entrepreneurs have experienced business success and have been recognized in the media and national publications.

It was through her networks that Robinson-Chew learned about WIBI. “I saw WIBI as an extension of my mission at SheEO Academy,” she says. “I learned how they are trying to empower business students, who would be the same kind of students who would go through the Academy.” Given her experience and talents, she has taken on leadership of the WIBI mentorship committee, providing her a more direct connection to the students. It has also helped her connect with faculty, as they discuss plans of bringing her and other businesswomen into the classroom to impart real world experience and advice to entrepreneurial-minded students.

Much of the advice that Robinson-Chew shares is centered around personal choices and when to make them, especially since many women delay career pursuits due to getting married and raising families. She advises them to travel, internationally if possible, because business is an international initiative. And because a business is an asset, they should own something first, whether it be a home or car, so that they understand how to manage assets of high value and importance. “Don’t start a business until you have some funding,” she emphasizes. “It is not impossible, but it makes life much more difficult if you try to start a business without your finances in order.”

Encouraged by recent trends, DeShawn Robinson-Chew is as energized as ever in helping girls and young women reach their entrepreneurship dreams, and she has involved herself in the proper organizations to drive further progress. “Mason having WIBI is an important recognition and acknowledgment that young women often have different hurdles than their male counterparts in business,” she says. “Along with Mason’s culturally diverse student population, Mason has to recognize its gender diversity too.” Robinson-Chew is excited to continue her work with WIBI and Mason in exploring more opportunities for mentorship and overall support for the female entrepreneur.