Twende is a year-long pre-accelerator program powered by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC), designed to dramatically accelerate the success of Tennessee’s Black and LatinX-owned businesses.

Black and LatinX Americans are pursuing business ownership at historic rates. They account for the majority of the U.S.’s new business growth, particularly in the South.

114K+ minority-owned businesses in TN

1 in 4 new businesses in the U.S. is Latino-owned

31% increase in U.S. Black-owned employer firms

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

  • Monthly check-ins with a dedicated coach on your business goals and outcomes
  • Bi-monthly virtual classroom sessions featuring world-class curriculum with particular relevance towards the needs of entrepreneurs of color
  • Subsidized professional services, such as accounting, web design, and marketing
  • Connections to Tennessee business leaders, EC alumni, and 300+ subject matter experts and mentors
  • Drop-in co-working space at the EC
  • Program participants who are in good standing in the program are also eligible to apply for funding from the Twende Regenerate capital fund
  • Individualized advice and mentorship from Entrepreneurs-In-Residence Shani Dowell and Bill McCleskey

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

Twende Coaches

Dr. Kemi Elufiede

Founder & President

Carnegie Writers, Inc.

Aireka Harvell


Nodat Inc.

Ashley Brooke James



Jarlecia Jones

VP Lending - Memphis

Pathway Lending

Daniel Oppong


The Courage Collective & OhanaHealth

Courtenay Rogers


CDR Consulting

Criteria for membership:

  • 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

Program cost:


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

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

Learn More

Program Partners

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