CEL graduates 11 emerging minority and women entrepreneurs

The CEL MWEE Class of 2022 (left to right): Front row: Kamilah Whitfield, Katie Mullaney, Munirah Ali, Michelle Spencer, Crystalyn Williams, Erin Hanaburgh. Back Row: Edward Tierney (instructor), LaSonya Spearman, Craig Garner, Gabriela Sun, Taunya Abaya, Anna Haag. Photo: Heather Bellini

Release Date: June 16, 2022


BUFFALO, N.Y. — After entering as protégés last year, 11 entrepreneurs are now prepared to take their businesses to the next level after completing the intense nine-month M&T Bank Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs (MWEE) program, a joint venture by the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) and the UB Center for Urban Studies. 

The awards were presented at a graduation ceremony for two CEL programs on June 9 at the Grapevine Banquet Hall in Depew.

Sponsored by M&T Bank, the MWEE program helps minority and women entrepreneurs take their companies to the next stage of development with business development seminars twice a month, networking events and one-on-one mentoring. 

With the generous sponsorship of Open4, this year’s class benefitted from additional resources such as leadership coaching, private consultations with industry experts, and panel discussions on marketing, strategic planning, and business development resources. In addition, the Buffalo Urban League collaborated with CEL to provide a pre-launch workshop and additional networking opportunities for the class.

With this year’s class, a total of 375 local entrepreneurs have completed the MWEE program since it launched in 2004. 

The graduates and their companies are:

  • Taunya Abaya, Abaya Wealth Management
  • Munirah Ali, Engineering & Technology Academy of Distinction Charter School
  • Craig Garner, ENG23 Home Services Corp
  • Erin Hanaburgh, Buffalo Bound
  • Katie Mullaney, Create Space Buffalo
  • LaSonya Spearman, Seed of a Woman Foundation
  • Michelle Spencer, Aging Well Care Management
  • Gabriela Sun, Badass Dog Training
  • Anna Venticinque, Anna Elizabeth Esthetics
  • Kamilah Whitfield
  • Crystalyn Williams, Bedazzled Nails by Crystalyn

Each participant was assigned a mentor from the local business community to help devise realistic business goals and develop timetables and strategies for achieving them. Mentors met regularly with participants, providing advice in strategic and tactical thinking, marketing, long-range financial planning and more. The class also met in-person two times per month for workshops and to develop their business model canvases.

The CEL is accepting applications for the 2023 MWEE program. To be eligible, an entrepreneur must be a woman or member of a recognized minority group and own a business in the Buffalo Niagara region. To learn more about the curriculum or apply, contact the CEL office at 716-885-5715 or mgt-cel@buffalo.edu.  

To hear from past graduates about their experience, join us for an upcoming open house: 

  • 6-8 p.m. on June 29 at Osteria 166, 166 Franklin Street, Buffalo
  • 5:30-7:30 p.m. on July 14 at Resurgence Brewing Company, 55 Chicago Street, Buffalo

Established in 1987, the CEL provides participants with individualized and interactive education in entrepreneurship. More than 1,500 CEL alumni employ more than 23,000 Western New Yorkers, and their businesses are worth more than $2.3 billion to the local economy. For more information, visit management.buffalo.edu/cel.

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit management.buffalo.edu.

Media Contact Information

Kevin Manne
Associate Director of Communications
School of Management