Open for Business for Women Entrepreneurs

Open for Business is led by HCC’s Office of Entrepreneurial Initiatives and funded by Wells Fargo.


To empower and accelerate the growth of women-owned businesses with a focus on Black, Hispanic, Indo-American, Native American, and Asian women. Empowering Women as Leaders through education, networking and mentoring.



  • Business Programs to launch and grow businesses
  • Business Plan Preparation
  • Financial Programs
  • Marketing Programs
  • Programs in Spanish
  • Credit Counseling
  • One-on-one business advising and coaching
  • Connections to Houston’s business eco-system
  • Special Events
  • Networking


Funded by Wells Fargo and operated by the HCC Office of Entrepreneurial Initiative, this program is dedicated to accelerating the growth of women entrepreneurs in Houston.

We believe that women entrepreneurs are passionate visionaries with the ability to take risks; innovators who can identify opportunities and through creativity, leadership and persistence are able to turn ideas, product, and services into profit.


The Open for Business program provides confidential, one-to-one business advising services. Certain areas of your business or plans need attention. We focus in on the areas, make decisions and create action plans. We also set goals and milestones to achieve your goals. We are here to help you!

The business advising services are paid for by the Wells Fargo grant. Therefore, there is no cost to you.

Open for Business provides advising in the following areas

  1. Start up
  2. Strategic planning
  3. Access to capital
  4. Credit issues
  5. Marketing
  6. Operations
  7. Insurance
  8. Accounting / budget
  9. Cash flow concerns
  10. Forecasting
  11. Employees/HR
  12. WBE, MBE, HUB certifications and usage
  13. Revenue models
  14. International trade
  15. Government contracting
  16. Referrals to service providers
  17. And more!


English and Spanish speaking advisers are available.



Open for Business’s target clients are Hispanic, Black, Indo-American, and Asian women interested in business advancement. Championing the women entrepreneurs of Houston, especially women of color, is our focus.

Whether you are a current business owner or considering starting a business, we invite you to explore the many ways HCC can assist you in achieving success. Working together, we can accomplish great things.


Business Advising

To receive business advising services, please do the following:

If you are currently in business,

  1. Complete the registration form (insert link for existing)
  2. Set up an appointment (link is in the registration form)
  3. Meet!

If you are starting a business (have not yet sold a product or service),

  1. Complete the registration form (insert link for start up)
  2. Set up an appointment (link is in the registration form)
  3. Meet!

Open for Business looks forward to working with you to help you achieve your goals!



Advisory Board Members

  • Francis Villavanglover, President of HCC-SE College
  • Michi Clay, Vice President, East Texas Region for LiftFund
  • Nichelle Poindexter, Vice President, Membership Development & Engagement, GHP
  • Shurronda Murray, Manager, Small Business Outreach, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County
  • Courtney Johnson Rose, Chief Executive Officer at George E. Johnson Real Estate & Development, Inc.
  • Valerie Maher, Lead Economic Development Specialist at USSBA
  • Amanda Edwards, Attorney & Former Candidate for the US Senate & Houston City Council Member At Large
  • Marsha Murray, Director at City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity


Open For Business Staff

Tamala Austin, Director

Tamala Austin is the imaginative founder of JIVE Juice Company, the First African American Female Juice Company of its kind to join Whole Foods Market. Austin is a businesswoman on a mission. She launched herself into the professional after graduating from Texas Southern University with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Texas Women’s University. She is the author of “Love My Body Again: 21 Days of Meditation to Live Your Best Healthy Life Now.

In 2019 at his biennial State of the State address, Texas Governor Greg Abbott highlighted the success story of J.I.V.E. Juice founder Tamala Austin. “Inspiration, hard work and drive pay off in Texas; they paid off for Tamala,” Gov. Abbott stated, citing the growth of J.I.V.E. Juice from a home-based business into a retail success. “Let us thank you for your inspiration of what a business leader can be.”

Tamala is recognized for her collaborative leadership style, proactive approach and keen ability to translate complex concepts into straightforward ideas effectively. It is her passion to share her journey of entrepreneurship, encourage a culture of learning, while inspiring others to achieve anything while fostering a culture of innovation. To bridge the gap between theory and practice and to stay current in industry, she coaches teams and individuals, especially women who have a desire to start a business or have an existing business. Her message is simple, with the right tool’s success is achievable.

Tamala can be reached at


Karen Sharp, Business Advisor

Karen Sharp spent 12 years as a Small Business Development Center Senior Consultant. She served as Adjunct Faculty - Marketing for 5 years at Lone Star College and currently teaches at University of Houston Downtown.

Karen owns two businesses, one for 24 years, in which she assists clients with branding solutions, marketing and cash flow consulting. Her love of assisting entrepreneurs brings her to HCC Open for Business.

Prior to owning her business, Karen spent 14 years in information technology as a systems analyst project manager, and IT consulting and sales. She worked for Shell Oil, Tenneco Oil, Informatics, Ansa Software and BMC Software.

Karen is a Certified Global Business Professional through the NASBITE organization. Karen earned her BS in Applied Science, Systems Analysis from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio and MBA from University of Houston.


Carola Medina, Admin Support

Carola Medina is the administrative support for the Open for Business team. She is a recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in psychology. Her personal mission has always been to work with diverse and underrepresented communities. One of her first jobs after graduating was working as a mental health support and care for adolescents in a hospital setting. Carola's professional goals are centered around helping others achieve personal growth and giving back to her community. She is excited to be part of initiative to empower women of color to achieve their business aspirations. She hopes to bring an organized and dedicated presence to the team.


Open For Business

Tamala Austin, Director

Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri from 8am to 5pm
¡Hablamos Español!