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Wells Fargo, National Black MBA Association Honor Distinguished African American Entrepreneurs


For the second consecutive year, Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) and the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) 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, North Carolina-based Ashtae Products, Inc.; and Laurna Godwin and Jessica Perkins, owners of Vector Communications Corporation in St. Louis.

The winners were honored and received a $5,000 check during the Entrepreneurs Institute Luncheon at the annual National Black MBA Association Conference in Washington, D.C. on September 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 a $1,500 award.

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 approximately 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 Products, Inc. was nominated by JeVon Wilson, the vice president of operations for the Piedmont Triad chapter of the National Black MBA Association.

Vector Communications Corporation is an award-winning public engagement and communications consulting firm specializing in meeting planning and facilitation, strategic planning and collaborative development, media relations, event planning and video production. Vector celebrated its 10-year anniversary in June and plans to use their award proceeds as seed money for a new community initiative. Vector Communications Corporation was nominated by Paula Hughes, a company employee and the correspondence secretary of the St. Louis chapter of the National Black MBA Association.

“The award recipients reflect the strength and success of African American-owned businesses in America,” said Brenda Ross-Dulan, regional president of the Wells Fargo Los Angeles Crossroads Division and national spokesperson for Wells Fargo’s African American Business Services program. “Vector Communications Corporation and Ashtae Products, Inc. illustrate the importance of dedication, commitment and perseverance in achieving business success"

“We are delighted to honor two recipients this year,” said NBMBAA President & CEO Barbara L. Thomas. “Our award winners are solid examples of how entrepreneurs can turn interests and proficiencies into enterprise. It is even more laudable that both of these small businesses have found time and resources to introduce and nurture endeavors that serve and strengthen their communities, making them true role models"

Wells Fargo’s African American Business Services program provides outreach and education to African American business owners through resources including workshops, seminars, tradeshows, and regional and national alliances. Wells Fargo works closely with several national organizations including the National Black Chamber of Commerce, 100 Black Men of America and the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA). In 2008, Wells Fargo joined with the National Black MBA to launch the Entrepreneurial Institute, a forum that supports both aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs in accessing the resources they need to grow and succeed financially.


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