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December 2006

CWE's 2006 Annual Report
Jameel Webb-Davis

Center for Women & Enterprise article on Jameel

The idea might have been simmering in her head for years, but it only took one sleepless night to launch Jameel Webb-Davis into starting the business of her dreams.

Tossing and turning one night last April, Jameel got out of bed, turned on her computer - and found CWE. A phone call the next morning enrolled her in an information session, two days later she attended her first seminar, and within a week, Jameel was signed up for every class she could find.

"After that one seminar, I knew I had to quit my job," the former insurance company employee said. "I realized I wasn't making a difference; I wasn't impacting anybody in a significant way."

Jameel knew how to make an impact-by helping people organize their finances. She'd been doing it for years, as a volunteer and for friends and relatives, and knew not only that it was something she's great at, but that there was a real need for it, especially among small business owners. The only question was, could she pursue her dreams and still pay her mortgage?

CWE helped Jameel realize the answer was yes. Six weeks after that first seminar, she quit her job and went full-time as her own boss, founding MJOrganizers. Her momentum hasn't slowed. At 8AM on her first day of self-employment, Jameel had her first appointment - with an accountant who never showed up. She's not the sort to give up - "It never occurred to me to go back to work" - and she kept her eye on what was important: That she have the chance to teach people about their finances.

Now, Jameel has a solid client list that grows as her reputation builds. Her ideas for expansion are growing just as quickly. She finds great reward in taking a plastic sack full of bills and receipts from an elderly client, a small business owner or someone like herself years ago (a fresh college graduate with 23 credit cards), and returning to them an organized binder that lets her client realize their financial obligations. But her few months in business have also helped her notice a root problem: teenagers aren't being raised with an understanding of how to manage their finances. "People are too embarrassed to call me and ask for help," Jameel says. "We're trained that [managing] money is common sense, and it's not."

Not one to rest, Jameel is now working to create materials and workbooks for schools to incorporate into their curriculums. Students should graduate, she says, with an understanding of what interest, a bounced check, and taxes are - and they're not.

"Once I started thinking about what I really wanted to do, I couldn't focus on anything else," she says. "I just had this really powerful feeling that this is what I've been looking for [for] a very long time."

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