Twende

Leveling the playing field for founders of color.

Twende is Kiswahili for “let’s go,” and this is the spirit of the EC’s program passionately and strategically driving the growth of Tennessee’s entrepreneurs of color. Twende is a year-long program for entrepreneurs of color in all industries looking to significantly grow their businesses and gain access to world-class curriculum, a supportive community, and individualized mentorship.

Learn more about Twende’s statewide expansion here.

20 Entrepreneurs in 2020-2021 Cohort

32 Entrepreneurs Served to Date

Founded in 2019

Applications Now Open

Join the 2021-2022 cohort of Twende, and get access to critical resources to grow your business. Applications will close on October 22, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

Apply Now

A year of support and resources specifically created for founders of color.


*** Twende is a fully virtual program with select hybrid in-person experiences. Class sessions are hosted virtually from 2:00-3:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoons. ***

Program benefits:

  • Mentors-in-Residence provide hands-on support
  • Drop-in co-working space at the EC
  • Bi-monthly interactive classroom sessions featuring world-class curriculum with particular relevance towards the needs of entrepreneurs of color
  • Connections to Nashville business leaders, EC alumni, and 300+ mentors
  • Individualized advice and mentorship from Entrepreneurs-In-Residence Shani Dowell and Bill McCleskey

Optimized for founders of color leading growing companies.

Criteria for participants:

  • Identify as a racial or ethnic minority in the US context
  • Full-time CEO or Co-Founder of an existing tech or tech-enabled business in late Phase 1 and Early Phase 2 of the Entrepreneurial Lifecycle
  • $15,000+ in annual revenue, or seed stage for tech startups
  • Seek to join a supportive, collaborative community committed to transforming Nashville’s minority-owned business landscape

Hear from our Community

“Twende makes me feel/look bigger than I am. I’m just one person, but the marketing, legal, digital advising and services they’ve carried out for me make me feel so much more robust as a business. I feel like I have the backing, support, know-how I need to take things on, even if my own capabilities or output are limited by being just one human.”
– Twende 2021 Participant

$50/month

**Payments for the program will be made in monthly installments.

You will not receive capital nor will you be required to give equity.

Check out our applications page for more information about how to join.

Learn More

Twende Entrepreneurs-In-Residence

Our entrepreneurs-in-residence support cohorts throughout their time in the program with dedicated mentoring, introductions, and support from the perspective of someone who has “been there, done that.”

Shani Dowell CEO, Possip | Shani came to the EC as a PreFlight scholar with the idea to build a tool that would enable schools to more effectively gather parent feedback. In the last year, her company, Possip, has made over 7,000 recommendations for action while conducting and analyzing surveys in 100+ languages for 600 schools across more than 20 states. Shani also enrolled in the first class of InFlight in November 2018 and since then has closed over $2 million in investment.

Bill McCleskey CEO, MiTech Partners | Also a graduate of the EC’s PreFlight program, Bill McCleskey is the founder of Mitech, a national provider of commercial and residential telecommunications services. Within 12 months, Bill grew Mitech to over 300 clients in multiple states. Today, Mitech has surpassed one million dollars in revenue, and Bill is a member of the Nashville Chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a membership of entrepreneurs whose businesses have reached a million dollars in revenue. Mitech Partners is the 17th minority-owned firm in Nashville to reach one million dollars in annual recurring revenue.

Program Partners

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