Tri-State woman helping women-owned businesses grow

Lynnise Smith says helping small businesses find their way has become a passion of hers because that same type of support helped develop her career.
Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 4:03 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A Tri-State woman is helping women-owned businesses in Ohio and Kentucky overcome hurdles to expand across the region.

You’ve probably seen some of the ads and designs while shopping in stores or online.

The creations are all made by a local branding agency, Deskey, which can be found here in Cincinnati.

Desky, the successful women-owned company, helped extend its reach through the Women’s Business Enterprise Council Ohio River Valley, where you will find Executive Director Lynnise Smith.

“We actually certify women-owned businesses,” explains Smith. “So, we help women-owned businesses in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia scale and grow their businesses.”

A certification that Smith says helps give growing businesses validation and credibility while also creating a network for support and access to other corporations with shared business interests.

“There’s nothing more powerful than watching a company get started as a solopreneur and then scale up to the point where they’re now a major employer in their area,” says Smith.

She says helping small businesses find their way has become a passion of hers because that same type of support helped develop her career.

Smith says she was working at a bank in Cleveland when a repeat customer became a mentor, guiding her toward a career in supply chain.

“I didn’t know supply chain was a job or a career option,” Smith said. “One day, she came in, she said, ‘You know, I have a job available. Are you interested?’ I’m like, ‘I can’t do that.’ She said, ‘Yes, you can. You have all the skills, transferable skills.’ She coached me through it and encouraged me to apply. I ended up getting the role and then found out I was good at it.”

From there, Smith continued to climb the ladder in the industry focusing on supplier diversity.

She also went back to school at Cleveland State University to get her master’s in psychology specializing in diversity management.

After working in the federal space for several years, she was later recruited to work for OhioHealth.

There, she started their supplier diversity program, helping companies across the state with payroll, invoicing, contracts and other challenges.

”Some of the systems are not designed for women-owned businesses to be successful,” Smith explains. “Some of the systems are not designed for minority-owned businesses to be successful. And that’s the reason why we have supply diversity practitioners throughout the country, and all of these various organizations that are trying to remove barriers for these organizations to be successful.”

Just as her career has thrived, she has the same joy watching small business break through those barriers leading the way in their industry.

“It’s almost like a parent,” says Smith. “It’s very rewarding to see the businesses grow and to see them doing their best.”

This year, the Women Business Enterprise Council is celebrating 14 years with a regional conference in Columbus from Aug. 28-30.

It will be filled with workshops and networking. For more information, visit the website.

Breaking Through Series

This story is part of a weekly segment called Breaking Through.

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